Essex receives over £10m to get residents healthier

The county of Essex has received a £10.68 million grant from the National Lottery Fund to get residents more active. 

The grant is awarded by Sport England, a non-departmental public body for the promotion of sport activities in England. 

There are currently 391,600 inactive residents (one in four or 27%) in Essex, partly due to high levels of deprivation that prevent many from reaping the benefits of an active lifestyle. 

These figures come from a 2016/17 Active Lives survey, which defines inactivity as less than 30 minutes of physical exercise each week. 

In the areas of Basildon, Colchester and Tendring, where the project will initially focus, there are 233,585 people living in deprivation. This has been acknowledged as one of the reasons behind previous failings to tackle stubborn inactivity in the county. 

The new plan focuses instead on challenging the root causes of inactivity, using research conducted last year to understand the factors that need to change to help residents live more active lives. 

Seven strategic priorities were mapped out from the findings and led to Essex being awarded the grant. These are:

● Getting local passionate people involved, who want to create activities in their areas

● Creating active parks, coastal paths and new walking and cycling routes

● Easy access small grants and support for community projects

● Investing in successful voluntary groups and charities to scale up their activities

● Training people in voluntary as well as paid roles, creating thousands of new volunteers, leaders and coaches

● Brightening up buildings, streets and parks to make them attractive places to be active

● World class measurement and evaluation which will be shared UK-wide

Essex is one of 12 pilot areas identified by Sport England to receive around £100 million over the next three years. The plan for Essex is to get 1 million residents more active by 2021. Public sector organisations are said to be on board with the project to bring about “whole system change”. 

Councillor John Spence CBE, chair of the Essex health and wellbeing board and chair of the Essex local delivery pilot, said: “The National Lottery award of almost £10.68 million from Sport England is a game changer in helping us create the sustainable change which will benefit individuals, local communities and across wider Essex.”

“This is about public, community and voluntary organisations coming together to tackle the inequalities in our most deprived local communities where we most need to promote the opportunities and benefits of an active lifestyle.”