Wirral Council’s weight management project wins national award

A project to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Wirral has scooped a prestigious national award.

Wirral Council was among six councils vying for the top slot in the ‘Best Health and Wellbeing Initiative (including Social Care)’ category at the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) Service Awards 2023, for its Active Wirral Wellbeing Weight Management Project.

The project was set up to address high levels of obesity being observed in Wirral and set out to deliver a high-impact programme that supports residents to lose weight, become more active and improve their overall wellbeing.

Cllr Janette Williamson, Chair of the Adult Social Care and Public Health Committee, said, “It is fantastic to see the hard work of this team rewarded with national acknowledgement of the incredible impact they have had.

“They have been tackling the shocking variation in health outcomes – and ultimately life expectancy – between affluent and deprived areas in Wirral.

“While there remains much to be done addressing these health inequalities, it is pleasing to see this project being recognised in this way. This is an issue we are absolutely committed to addressing as part of our Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the wider Wirral Plan and we are very proud that it is being seen as an exemplar nationally.

“This vital work is focused on providing the right support to people, in a way that is convenient and tailored to their needs and making great progress in supporting Wirral residents who need it.”

The Wirral project worked with local Community Interest Company, One Wirral, to deliver six weeks of classroom-based nutrition advice along with the chance to take part in guided physical activity sessions, seven days a week and help with motivation, behaviour change, confidence, anxiety, peer support and 1:1 guidance.

The APSE Awards are specific to frontline services provided by UK local authorities. This year, the Awards included 21 categories, covering the vast majority of local services.

The winners were announced at the APSE Annual Charity Awards Dinner, in aid of Parkinson’s UK, on Thursday 14 September 2023 at the Titanic Belfast.

Speaking about the Awards, Mo Baines, APSE Chief Executive, said, “We received over 300 submissions for the awards this year, with each one demonstrating a clear commitment to the goals of continuous improvement and the delivery of excellence in public services.

“On behalf of everyone at APSE, I would like to congratulate each one of our incredible finalists – you are a credit to the communities you serve.”

Though obesity is a national issue, where Wirral does differ from many places in that it is a borough of stark health inequalities from one area to another. The health and wellbeing of local residents is a priority for Active Wirral and this is reflected in the project where most participants were from some of Wirral’s most deprived areas, with more than a quarter of those taking part living in the most economically deprived wards.

The Wellbeing Weight Management Programme delivered outcomes which in some cases were four times higher than the national average – and the results are showing that the project is having an impact where it is needed most.

In addition to weight management outcomes, the project has also produced long-lasting wellbeing benefits, with 84% reporting improvements on the SWEMWBS wellbeing scale, often by 20 out of a possible 35 points. SWEMWBS is the Short Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale and measures mental and emotional wellbeing – or how “good” somebody feels – as well as how well somebody thinks they are functioning.

Image: Bruno Nascimento

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