Pennine Lancashire has been chosen by Sport England as a pilot area to work with on a bold new approach to build healthier, more active communities across England.
Around £100million of National Lottery funding will be invested in 12 pilot schemes over four years, to create innovative partnerships that make it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.
Latest research shows that a quarter of the general population (11.5 million people) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week, with certain groups such as those in lower paid jobs, women and the disabled disproportionately affected.
The Pennine Lancashire pilot area covers a population of 534,600. The partnership includes seven local authorities; Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Hyndburn, Lancashire, Pendle, Ribble Valley, and Rossendale. Also Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lancashire Care Foundation NHS Trust. The area’s strong, diverse community and voluntary sector and the many sports clubs will play a key role.
Across Pennine Lancashire there are more than 100,000 people who are physically inactive increasing the chance that they will have heart disease, a stroke, problems breathing, cancers and poor mental wellbeing. Poor physical health links closely with mental ill health; having depression doubles the risk of developing coronary heart disease and people with depression have significantly worse survival rates from cancer and heart disease.
By focusing intensely in 12 areas, Sport England and the local partners want to identify better ways to address these stubborn inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active, such as poor transport, safety, cost and confidence.
It wants to encourage wider, collaborative partnerships which look at how all parts of a community can better work together to help the most inactive – from the transport links and street lighting to the quality of parks and open spaces, to how sport and activity is promoted by GPs.
Pennine Lancashire’s priority group will be almost 40,000 people with depression or anxiety and stress. We know that they are more likely to have other long term illnesses; experience hurdles in finding work and maintaining a job and have a poorer quality of life as a result. We’ll be looking to understand the things that lie behind physical inactivity and develop project and programmes to really support people to develop an active life in an active community with active family and friends. We’ll be focusing on people with poor mental health but also the communities they live in, the places they go, the way they get around and the people they meet.
Councillor Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, the accountable body for this project, said:
This is really good news for our area. It means that over the coming years we can work together to help inspire people to become more active in new ways that suit them.
Mental health issues can affect everybody and this project presents an exciting opportunity to make a big difference to people’s lives.
Minster for Sport Tracey Crouch welcomed the news at the Local Government Associations’ Sport and Physical Activity conference in London today, Tuesday 5 December.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said:
“Sport is a powerful tool that helps strengthen communities and improves physical and mental health. So it is right that we look to do all we can to encourage people to take part. Sport England will invest up to £100 million of funding, thanks to National Lottery players, to pilot innovative projects in 12 places to get more people from all backgrounds involved in sport and physical activity. We will look to replicate and scale up learning from the pilots across the country. I look forward to seeing these projects in action.”
Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive said:
“We are delighted that Pennine Lancashire will be working with us on this ground-breaking investment. We want to get to the heart of the issues that stop people being as active as they might like to be, and work alongside every part of the community and the groups and institutions in Pennine Lancashire that support them.
“This is not all about sport – we’re prepared to look at wider issues like transport, childcare, how easy it is to walk or cycle – whatever that community feels is most relevant to them. The process to be appointed as a pilot area for this work was incredibly competitive, and Pennine Lancashire has emerged from a very strong field. I am really delighted to be working with them.”