Stuart King, CEO and Head of Distraction at BeeZee Bodies talks about his experience of winning an RSPH award what it means to him and his team.
Last year BeeZee Bodies won the RSPH Health and Wellbeing Award for our work with children and young people on our BeeZee Families programmes. There were many deserving organisations in attendance and it was great to hear about all the amazing work that is going on around the country. We were surprised and thoroughly delighted to have won the award! It’s fantastic to have such esteemed recognition from a national award from a Royal Society, and to have it be the second prestigious award for this programme. The whirlwind of attention alongside our heavy workload has limited the time I had to reflect on the event as it happened. But now, a few months later, I have had time to think back on how we got here.
How BeeZee Bodies Started out
In 2006, BeeZee Bodies was created using funding from various sources, basing the programme on my experiences working with children, young people and families in schools and whilst completing an MSc part time. There was a distinct disconnect in the reality of the academic papers and theories I was researching and my lived experience of the everyday reality of delivery. The reality of delivering services to the public versus participants in a trial were stark.
So, BeeZee Bodies was, and is, driven by a desire to ‘bridge the gap’ between academia and ‘real-world’ delivery. I applied and tested many theories from psychology and sociology and have spent 14 years building our programmes in the right way. We have done the hard work of focussing on the people we are serving, and supporting them to make sustainable change. We have used the growing academic evidence-base, combined with our own experiences and data from our programmes to build a service that truly meets the needs of children, young people, families and adults.
Where we are now
We have changed a lot as an organisation since 2006. But one thing that has remained constant is our focus on the populations we serve and giving them an experience that actually changes their behaviour for good. We have worked with some amazing people in the past, and our current team are some of the most dedicated, passionate and talented people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
Together, we have simply worked on real problems that required solving; and solutions that do not compromise our mission to sustainably change lives, using evidence to guide the ongoing development of our services. Through our experience and knowledge, we have become masters of innovation, reinvention and recombination of ideas from diverse sources.
We have never really thought about awards. Public health is not an industry known for glitz and glamour! But one of our team members, Ben, saw the award on social media and decided that we should share our mission with the world through a royal society dedicated to the same principles we live out every day. Ben drove the application and in truth, I didn't even know it had been submitted! This is just one of the many benefits of employing people who are incredibly passionate about their work. They exceed expectations in many different ways, and they want to spread our mission.
Winning the award
When we were selected as one of three finalists, we were stunned. There are so many great public health services across the country, we were honoured that our programme had been recognised. The evening was fantastic, filled with stories of worthwhile causes and services, and uplifting entertainment. We took the whole BeeZee Families team, believing this to be somewhat of a ‘one-off’, and were thrilled when our name was called out.
If you are a commissioner who has significant challenges in your local population with obesity, don’t take a reductionist approach to the problem. Engage with the messiness and complexity and do it with a partner who can innovate programmes with evidence and real-world experience, and so can and will flex in the right places.
Do it - it is such a rewarding experience. You are working in public health to help people and you aren’t in it for the awards. But that's why you should apply. It isn’t arrogant or self-congratulatory to tell people about what you are doing. It's a great way to spread the word.
Since winning, we have had lots more enquiries and are making links with people nationally about starting some interesting projects. If you are passionate about what you do, apply now. As well as the award ceremony and potentially winning an award, it will offer you opportunities to meet more people who are keen to collaborate with you.