Exeter and Cranbrook jumping for joy after being selected for new activity pilot

Sport England today (Tuesday 5 December) announced that Exeter and the East Devon new town of Cranbrook, are one of 12 places selected to work on a ground-breaking new approach to tackle inactivity in communities.

Exeter and Cranbrook has been chosen by Sport England as a pilot area to work with on a bold new approach to build healthier, more active communities across England.

Exeter and Cranbrook is one of only 12 places in England to be awarded Pilot status and the only location in the south west. Around £100million of National Lottery funding will be invested in the 12 pilot areas over four years, to create innovative partnerships that make it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.

Cllr Phil Bialyk, Exeter City Council Lead Councillor for Sport, Health and Wellbeing, and Chair of the Exeter Health and Wellbeing Board said: “This is brilliant news and a fabulous early Christmas present for the city.”

Making Exeter and Cranbrook even more active

Latest research  shows that a quarter of the general population (11.5 million people) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week.   In Exeter, people are already more physically active than the national average but there are certain groups such as those in lower paid jobs, women and the disabled who struggle to be physically active in their everyday lives.

By focusing intensely in 12 areas, Sport England and the local partners want to identify better ways to address these stubborn inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active, such as poor transport, safety, cost and confidence.

“Two years ago, Exeter became the most active city in the South West and now we want to go one step further and become the most active city in England.” Cllr Phil Bialyk explains.  “We now need to ensure we improve health and wellbeing for everyone by encouraging 10,000 people who are currently inactive to introduce physical activity as part of their daily lives”.

The positive effect of physical activity on mental health

Dr Simon Kerr, GP from Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said:  “The success of this bid creates an exciting opportunity.  The support and the funding that Pilot status will bring will create better opportunities and easier access to many types of physical activities such as walking or cycling schemes, which in turn will have a positive effect on both physical and mental wellbeing for local people who take up the opportunities.  As a GP, I will be able to signpost my patients to these activities when I think it is suitable.”

The Local Delivery Pilot programme, working in collaboration with Sport England, will seek to bring a wide range of local partners and communities together across Exeter and Cranbrook to realise the enormous health, social and economic benefits of leading a regular active lifestyle.  Cranbrook is one of 10 NHS Healthy New Towns that aim to put health at the heart of new communities.

It’s not just about sport

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive said: “We are delighted that Exeter and Cranbrook will be working with us on this ground-breaking investment. We want to get to the heart of the issues that stop people being as active as they might like to be, and work alongside every part of the community and the groups and institutions in Exeter and Cranbrook that support them.

“This is not all about sport – we’re prepared to look at wider issues like transport, childcare, how easy it is to walk or cycle – whatever that community feels is most relevant to them. The process to be appointed as a pilot area for this work was incredibly competitive, and Exeter and Cranbrook has emerged from a very strong field. I am really delighted to be working with them.”