Woman walking in a field of flowers

Local authorities to get funding for active lifestyle trial

The government has announced that local authorities are to receive funding from the government to help reduce the mental and physical health disparities around the country.

Adult cycle training, free bike loans and the establishment of walking groups are just some of that pilot projects that will be funded by the £12.7 million of funding that has been awarded to 11 local authorities. The 11 local authorities trialling social prescriptions are:

  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Bradford
  • Cornwall
  • Cumbria
  • Doncaster
  • Gateshead
  • Leeds
  • Nottingham
  • Plymouth
  • Suffolk
  • Staffordshire

Walking and Cycling Minister, Trudy Harrison, said:

“Walking and cycling has so many benefits – from improving air quality in our communities to reducing congestion on our busiest streets.

“It also has an enormous positive impact on physical and mental health, which is why we have funded these projects which will get people across the country moving and ease the burden on our NHS.”

Maria Caulfield, Minister for Health, added:

“Getting active is hugely beneficial for both our mental and physical health – helping reduce stress and ward off other illness such as heart disease and obesity.

“The UK is leading the way in embedding social prescribing in our NHS and communities across the country. We’ve already exceeded our target to ensure over 900,000 people are referred to social prescribing schemes by 2023-24 and this pilot will help us identify further schemes to reduce disparities and boost mental and physical wellbeing across the country.”

The pilots being introduced are evidence of the government’s commitment to evaluating the impact of cycling and walking on an individual’s health. Reduced GP appointments and a decrease in reliance on medication are all benefits that physical activity can provide. This is the first time that transport, active travel, and health officials will be working together, with the departments and agencies involved including:

  • NHS England
  • Officer for Health Improvement and Disparities
  • Sport England
  • National Academy for Social Prescribing
  • Defra
  • Department for Health and Social Care

These pilots are to be delivered between 2022 and 2025 and will be monitored regularly, with evaluations to support continued development.

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