Walking, wheeling and cycling to improve mental and physical health and reduce disparities across the country is to be offered by GPs as part of a new trial across 11 authority areas.
Active Partnerships across the country are supporting the eleven local authority areas in England to benefit from £12.7 million in multi-year funding.
The pilots, part of the government's Gear Change plan published in 2020, aim to evaluate the impact of physical activity through cycling and walking on a person's health, such as reduced GP appointments and reliance on medication.
The funding will go towards several pilot projects including adult cycle training, free bike loans and walking groups. Other schemes include all-ability cycling taster days where people who may not have cycled before can try to in a friendly environment or walking and cycling mental health groups where people can connect with their communities as they get active.
The pilots will be delivered alongside improved infrastructure so people feel safe to cycle and walk.
Active Suffolk are one of the stakeholders in the Suffolk scheme which will see £1.5 million focused on Ipswich and Lowestoft. Led by the Public Health and Transport Strategy teams at Suffolk County Council other stakeholders include the primary care networks, Healthwatch Suffolk, Community Action Suffolk, Active Suffolk, and the University of Suffolk Integrated Care Academy. The county's former NHS clinical commissioning groups - now Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System and Norfolk and Waveney Integrated Care System – are also stakeholders. Read more about the Active Suffolk pilot.
Active Cumbria co-led on the submission to on behalf of Cumbria County Council and are working with local stakeholders on the pilot delivery in Cumbria which will focus on Barrow and Carlisle. Active Cornwall, Active Devon, Yorkshire Foundation, Rise and Wesport are also some of the other Active Partnerships that will be supporting pilots in their areas.
National Active Travel Commissioner, Chris Boardman, said:
"As a nation we need healthier, cheaper, and more pleasant ways to get around for everyday trips.
"Active Travel England's mission is to ensure millions of people nationwide can do just that – so it is easier to leave the car at home and to enjoy the benefits that come with it.
"Moving more will lead to a healthier nation, a reduced burden on the NHS, less cancer, heart disease and diabetes, as well as huge cost savings.
"This trial aims to build on existing evidence to show how bringing transport, active travel and health together can make a positive impact on communities across England."
The pilots will be delivered between 2022 and 2025 with on-going monitoring and evaluation to support continued learning.
The project brings together a range of government departments and agencies including:
- NHS England
- Office for Health Improvement and Disparities
- Sport England
- National Academy for Social Prescribing
- Department for Health and Social Care
For more information on the pilots click here