Active Black Country launch heath initiative

Cycling and walking to be prescribed by healthcare professionals.

There has never been a better time to get active for your health and wellbeing. Active Black Country are working with the West Midlands Combined Authority as part of their Big Summer of Cycling & Walking to support the development of the social prescribing of Rolling (cycling) and Strolling (walking).

This project is one of the West Midlands Supporting Measures programmes funded by the WMCA through its Department of Transport Emergency Active Travel Fund grant award.

Whilst social distancing prevents us from developing certain structured group activities, Active Black Country is working with four Primary Care Networks to encourage patients to walk and cycle in or to in local green spaces.

Advice and guidance will be given to patients regarding the health-related benefits of being active and follow-up consultations will be conducted to gauge the impact of the light-touch approach. A resource has been produced which will be given to these patients offering guidance on cycling, walking and the locations of the parks and open spaces available to them.

To test the effectiveness of different approaches, two of the Primary Care Networks will be able to provide a £60 activation budget to each patient that they signpost. What is learnt from this work will influence the future roll out across the Black Country and potentially the West Midlands.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, more people have taken to cycling and walking, which is of course brilliant news. At the WMCA we want to capitalise on that, which is why last week we launched the Starley Network – our re-imagined, re-branded, cycling vision for the West Midlands – and are also running the Roll & Stroll campaign.

“Not only does active travel improve people’s health and help the NHS, but it is also critical in tackling air pollution as part of the fight against climate change. I am therefore delighted that Active Black Country are launching this pilot for healthcare professionals to start prescribing cycling and walking.”

Michael Salmon, Head of Insight, Health and Wellbeing for Active Black Country said: “Active Black Country is working hard to ensure that all health care professionals, along with dedicated social prescribers, have the knowledge and resources required to signpost patients and clients to community solutions where appropriate. The resource that we have developed is a great way to encourage patients in primary care to access the wonderful parks and open spaces already available within their local community for the benefit of their health and wellbeing.”

The resource can be found here or can be downloaded directly.