Following the omission of health food stores in the recent Health on the High Street report, NAHS Administrator Avril McCracken and Cheryl Thallon of Viridian have met with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) which published the report.
The report, which aimed to identify businesses and services that contribute most to the health and wellbeing of local communities, cited gyms and health clubs, pharmacies, museums, pubs and opticians as contributing positively, but shockingly made no mention of health stores.
Explaining the reason for this, an RSPH spokesperson told NPN: “We did consider health food stores but were unable to include everything.” She added that the selection criteria had been “informed by public opinion, overseen by an expert steering group”.
“We had a very productive meeting with the Royal Society for Public Health to voice our concern that independent health stores were left out of their consultation on health on the high street whilst pubs and betting shops were included,” says McCracken. “How can you have a proper consultation when you leave out independent health stores? That is what we asked them, and they replied that the steering group responsible didn’t think there were that many health stores in the UK to make a difference! Obviously we corrected them on that one and pointed out how we also link with other organizations to improve the overall health of the nation.”
The upshot of the meeting? “The good news is that the Royal Society for Public Health have agreed to include independent health stores in their follow-up consultation and to consult with the NAHS on any relevant matters in the future. A good result all round!” says McCracken.
There were a number of points that both parties agreed upon, such as that VAT should be adjusted on healthy and unhealthy foods and that a percentage of stores for rent on the high street should only be available to ‘healthy’ stores.
McCracken also stresses that for the NAHS to gain a bigger voice and be taken more seriously in future, it is vital that the organization and independent health stores work together.