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Making a lasting impact on people’s well-being

3 September 2013

Today the Big Lottery Fund can announce findings from research into our £160m Well-being programme which aimed to improve the well-being of groups who experience high levels of need.

Projects we have funded have achieved a one third reduction in significant depressive symptoms, physical activity has increased by one third and healthy eating has increased by 17%. In this guest blog, Gillian Halliwell explains how funding has helped her project provide a range of interventions reaching out to vulnerable people.

Gillian Halliwell

Gillian Halliwell

In 2007 we received £7 million from the Big Lottery Fund for our well-being portfolio in North West England. As a group of healthy living centre managers working independently across the region, it’s an understatement to say that we were delighted.

What started out as the chance to share learning became a fantastic opportunity to work together and improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable communities. Six years on and having just received another two years’ funding, we’re excited to build on our success.

To date, 80,000 people have benefited from a wide range of interventions such as cookery clubs, bereavement support and exercise programmes. Allotment and growing activities have also been effective in reaching out to those most in need.

Stephen O’Brien, 31, was referred to us by Sefton Alcohol Services. He has been attending our ‘Healthy Beginnings’ project at the May Logan Centre, Liverpool, for the past three years. Since deciding to join the ‘Roots’ gardening initiative he’s never looked back.

“I’d had trouble for years with my health, mainly related to drinking,” says Stephen. “I was referred to the project and now attend the Roots garden group once a week where I pick and grow vegetables. We’ve spent lots of time creating more space to grow things and the work can be very physical so my fitness has really improved.

I eat much better now thanks to cookery sessions I attended. I’ve gone from eating ready meals every night to making my own dishes from scratch a couple of times a week. I’ve also cut down on salt which has reduced my blood pressure and pleased my doctor.

Stephen O'Brien, Debbie Kelly and Kenny Herd outside May Logan Healthy Living Centre

Stephen O’Brien, Debbie Kelly and Kenny Herd outside May Logan Healthy Living Centre

The biggest achievement since attending the project is that I’ve not touched alcohol in a year. I never thought I’d be able to do it but this is the healthiest I’ve been for a while. I’ve made friends and don’t feel isolated anymore. I’m looking forward to my future.”

There are many stories like this from our portfolio as we know the value of hearing first-hand the impact we’ve been having on the lives of the people we engage.

We continue to use this funding to help ensure that we all learn from each other and to understand how best to manage and deliver projects that can make a lasting impact. Following our initial funding we produced an ‘Impact and Insights’ report which can be found on our website www.healthylivingnorthwest.org.

Gillian Halliwell is Wellbeing Portfolio Manager, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

What do you think of Gillian’s guest blog? Leave you comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter using #biglf.

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