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A new approach for community health and wellbeing

“We want our residents to be active, healthy and happy.”

Those were the words of Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Healthy Communities at Vale of White Horse District Council about a new Active Communities strategy her council has launched in partnership with South Oxfordshire District Council.

“Our aim is to give our local residents the ability and tools to make a real and sustainable difference to their own activity levels, their physical health and in turn their mental wellbeing,” added Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers, South Oxfordshire’s Cabinet Member for Community Wellbeing.

The strategy is a brand new approach to health and wellbeing developed by the two neighbouring councils to help their residents come together to take part in sport, health and recreational activities that improve their physical and mental wellbeing, while forging stronger social links within their local communities.

Cllr Pighills continued: “By putting the power to make a difference in the hands of our residents, we’ll also help them build even stronger communities and address local inequalities; providing firm foundations for better wellbeing long into the future.”

The councils intend to encourage sustainable active transport methods like walking and cycling, and to make maximum use of green spaces and the districts’ waterways as it’s widely recognised that spending time in the natural environment is beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.

Through coaching, communication, and engagement, and providing advice and access to external sources of funding, the councils will work in partnership with community groups, local schools, sports clubs, children’s centres, and leisure providers to significantly expand what activities are available to all parts of the community.

The strategy contributes to the priorities of building healthy communities and improving community wellbeing that the council have set out in their Corporate Plans. 

The next steps are for the councils to investigate where there are currently gaps in what activities are already provided, and to develop partnerships across the two districts with key stakeholders that ultimately support residents to Be Active, Be Healthy and Be Happy.