CAA Health Studies

This year’s first CAA reports that Birmingham’s partners ‘know how serious health inequalities are and are working hard to improve them’.

Currently, Birmingham’s citizens have worse health than the average for England. Even within the city, there are large differences. For example, men and women from well off areas can expect to live 8-9.5 years longer than those in deprived areas.

Therefore partners have launched a number of programmes to help improve people’s quality of life. Be active is one such campaign that has already impacted the lives of 45,000 residents whilst winning national recognition and awards.

Part funded by Be Birmingham’s Working Neighbourhoods Fund, Be active aims to get people to change their lifestyle, whilst improving their health by offering free leisure centre use. This is the largest such initiative in Europe.

Mum of two Laurie Kettle, 29, from Shard End, is a Be active participant at Stechford Cascades Leisure Centre. After putting on four stone, she joined her local leisure centre earlier this year.

When the Be active scheme was introduced in September, she was delighted that she could attend for free. She said: As a single mum, it has really helped me financially. It means I can now spend as long as I want here on my day off, and bring the kids swimming at the weekend for nothing!”

Laurie has now lost two stone and spends every Tuesday morning at her local leisure centre, where she enjoys the gym followed by a spinning class. And she gets some quality family time with her daughters Leah, 12, and Charlotte, 9, when they go swimming on Sundays.

“It’s great fun at Stechford Cascades – I get to spend time with my family and friends” said Charlotte. “I really love the pool,” adds Leah.

Rosalyn Mighty, 46 of Aston, is a single mother of five children and six grandchildren. Roselyn joined the health scheme in a bid to loose some of her 23.5 stone-weight and to tackle underlying health problems.

Since joining the scheme, Rosalyn has lost almost nine stone, sleeps better and now is able to play with her grandchildren. Rosalyn says without this scheme, her achievements would not have been possible as she could never have afforded to pay for her gym visits, four times a week.

Since September 2009 more than 45,000 Birmingham citizens have been enjoying free activities across 26 of the city’s leisure centres. The present scheme is based on a 2008 Ladywood pilot ‘Gym 4 Free’ which recently won The Guardian Best Public Services award and the success of the present scheme is expected to have around 90,000 to 100,000 additional citizens’ being active at least three times a week up to April 2011.

For more information please contact Michelle Carr onmichelle.carr@birmingham.gov.uk or call 0121 675 7819

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