An innovative three-year Living Well programme, looking at the role of faith organisations in tackling childhood obesity across the Bradford district, has been selected as one of the Government’s five trailblazer programmes.
The Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme offers bespoke support to local authorities so they can take action to encourage behaviour changes and share their learning with other areas.
The Trailblazer Programme is part of a wider Bradford district programme to tackle health inequalities in the district called Living Well – aimed at helping everyone in Bradford become more active and make changes to improve their health and wellbeing.
Bradford Council’s bid focuses on working in partnership with Islamic religious settings to tackle childhood obesity in children of South Asian heritage – physiological issues, cultural issues and structural factors (living in more deprived areas).
The Trailblazer Programme will see Bradford Council working with partners including Born in Bradford and the Bradford Council for Mosques across settings such as madrassas to reach the 85 per cent of Muslim South Asian children that visit for four or five days a week.
The trailblazing work will include building a curriculum of work to be undertaken in the religious settings, working with local schools and other structural issues like providing healthy snacks, cook-and-eat sessions and ensuring access to play areas and physical activity.
Statistics show that 40 per cent of children from South Asian communities throughout the Bradford district are overweight or obese by the age of 10-11; with more deprived areas also showing the highest levels of obesity in this age group.
As well as reaching out to the children, it’s hoped this work will also help the children’s families and wider communities.
Rosie McEachan, Director at Born In Bradford, said: “This programme is a really exciting opportunity to work with faith settings to make a real difference to the health of our children. Mosques and madrassas are a perfect setting to help support families to make healthier choices.
Reclaiming safe outdoor places
“We will work with mosques and madrassas to help create health ‘superzones’ in their local environment by reclaiming safe outdoor places for children to play and walk, introducing healthier foods into local takeaways, and working with other local community groups and schools to promote healthier diets and physical activity.
“We are pleased to be working closely with the Living Well Programme at Bradford Council, and the Bradford Council for Mosques to deliver a step change in the way we work together to protect children from obesity-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer in later life.
“We hope that other regions around the country can learn from our approach and help develop similar programmes of their own.”
Councillor Sarah Ferriby, portfolio holder for healthy people and healthy places at Bradford Council, said:
“The national support we receive as a Trailblazer programme will support us in delivering the wider Bradford Living Well campaign, making a significant difference to the lives of the children and families. We can only be successful by working in partnership with the council, local organisations and the community.
“This award presents a great opportunity for us to work together within the Living Well Programme to work with the local Muslim faith community to design new approaches to improving the health and wellbeing of our children.
“Every child in Bradford deserves the best start in life and this includes having an active childhood and a well balanced diet.”
Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said: “Every child deserves the best start in life – communities need to come together to play their part in helping the next generation to be healthy and active. Prevention is at the heart of our NHS Long Term Plan, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not work in public health.
“These pilots are rightly rooted in the needs of the communities they serve and I look forward to seeing what benefits this grassroots approach has on our nation’s obesity problem.”
Note to Editors:
Living Well is about making it easier for everyone to live a healthy, more active life. It will help people find the right approach and support to make small changes that make a positive difference to the way they feel.
It will also be reaching out to local businesses, to encourage them to sign up to the Living Well Pledge. The Pledge helps employers to establish healthier workplaces, by introducing them to ideas they can easily apply to their business. The Living Well team will help employers form an action plan covering key health areas such as; diet and nutrition, physical activity, smoking, drugs and alcohol and mental wellbeing.
Caring about the health and wellbeing of staff helps to create a happy, healthy and more productive workforce. Signing the Living Well Pledge and becoming a Living Well Business means employers are committing to making the healthy choice, the easiest choice for their staff.