June 2012; Ria Bowler, Project Manager, British Heart Foundation (BHF)

Ria Bowler, Project Manager, British Heart Foundation (BHF)

Ria Bowler, Project Manager, British Heart Foundation (BHF)

I work in the Heart Health Resources and Community Support team at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which is part of the Prevention and Care department within the Medical division. The team’s overall aims are to empower people to protect their heart and to support heart patients to improve their quality of life. We develop practical information, training and support programmes for communities across the UK and work in partnership with health care professionals, workplaces, community groups and patients and carers to raise awareness of heart disease. We communicate our messages through a variety of methods, including leaflets, booklets, DVDs, toolkits and online resources.

I have been at the BHF since September 2011 and my primary role is to manage and develop a portfolio of heart health information resources for adults – alongside my four colleagues. A key aspect of our work is ensuring that all information is medically accurate, accessible, engaging, high quality and also conforms to BHF brand guidelines. I look after around twenty printed products which are in a continuous development cycle from scoping, production and dissemination through to evaluation and review. These cover topics from healthy lifestyle advice to prevent heart disease to a patient guide to living with the condition, heart failure. I am also a content rep for our website, so am responsible for updating and improving a number of web pages relating to heart health.

In my role I work in partnership with a variety of people both internally and externally, so my job also involves a lot of coordination! This can range from liaising with BHF nurses, dieticians and other experts to check the accuracy of information to working with patients and the general public to test resources or source case studies, as well as managing suppliers like researchers, designers, printers and production companies. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge within the BHF so it’s important to draw on that whenever possible and also keep the right people in the loop – project planning is key and it’s great to get the opportunity to work with different people around the charity.

Recently I’ve been leading on a data capture project to help us better understand who orders our information resources and I am also an evaluation champion, which involves working with BHF’s Evaluation Lead to embed an evaluation culture and to be the first point of contact for the team for all evaluation queries. Another focus of my work is around health inequalities and health literacy – BHF has an objective to reduce inequalities in the levels of heart disease across the UK and it’s an ongoing challenge to ensure that our information is accessible to and reaches those most at risk. The BHF’s Hearty Lives programme supports this by developing local partnerships and tailored projects in specific areas of the country, and we work closely with the regional field based teams to make sure they have the right resources for these targeted projects.

I have a marketing and communications background so enjoy developing information that reaches and engages with different target audiences. My previous role at communications agency Forster specifically developed my interest in social marketing and behaviour change. Working on projects across a variety of public health and social issues for PCTs, government and charities showed me firsthand the value of insight led approaches to information development and I believe putting the audience’s needs first has the most impact. Coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of death in the UK, so it’s vital people are informed about what they can do to reduce their risk of developing heart disease or best manage their condition. It’s rewarding to know that the resources we develop help people change their lifestyle or provide support so they can improve their quality of life. The BHF is committed to a vision of a world where people don’t die prematurely from heart disease so it’s exciting to be a part of achieving that by developing effective health information.

I became a member of PiF when I joined the BHF. I was keen to learn more about the health information field and to build relationships with professionals in similar roles in other organisations. PiF provides a platform through which to network and share best practice, which can only improve the effectiveness of our work. The BHF recently hosted a PiF Voluntary Sector event on ‘Meeting the Information Needs of Diverse Groups’ and the learning shared between those that attended was invaluable and will definitely be influencing our work in the future.