Schools from across Plymouth will be attending an event to officially launch the second year of a citywide drive to reduce health inequalities – Thrive Plymouth.
Thrive Plymouth is a ten year framework that follows the simple 4-4-54 formula. This recognises the need to tackle the four lifestyle behaviours – smoking, excessive drinking, inactivity and poor diet – that lead to four chronic illnesses – cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease – that together cause 54% of deaths in the city. Although launched by Plymouth City Council’s Public Health department, Thrive Plymouth is being developed in partnership with local residents and organisations across the city. It recognises that there is something for everyone to do to improve health and reduce health inequalities in the city, whether you are a resident, business or institution.
As well as focussing on the four behaviours, the first year of Thrive Plymouth has emphasised the need to encourage workplaces to make the healthy choice the easy choice for their employees. Year 2 of Thrive Plymouth will work directly with local schools.
Year one of Thrive Plymouth saw 22,000 employees represented by 35 of the city’s largest employers. The city’s leaders and businesses pledged to take action to make the healthy choice the easy choice and work to enable positive choices in their organisation.
11 businesses signed up to the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, 372 health checks were carried out in the workplace, and eight businesses signed up to the Workplace Challenge.
A recent survey in Plymouth carried out jointly by local schools in partnership with Public Health shows that:
- 8% of pupils surveyed had got drunk within the past 7 days
- 45% of pupils surveyed eat fruit or vegetables on most days
- 67% of pupils surveyed said they enjoyed physical activities quite a lot or a lot.
- 95% of pupils did not smoke regularly
Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We’re very pleased to be launching the second year of our ambitious approach to reducing health inequalities in the city. We’re grateful to all the employers that have engaged so far and we look forward to working with our schools to improve health and wellbeing.”
Councillor Sue McDonald, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “Schools are such an important part of the local community, and getting in early to make sure people lead healthier lives earlier on is so fundamental to improving public health, that they were an obvious priority for us to work with.
“By encouraging local schools to think more about health and wellbeing we aim to improve the outcomes for our children and young people, both in the immediate future and in years to come.”
Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are delighted with the success of Thrive Plymouth during year one, with a wide range of employers pledging to mtake action, working with Plymotion, our Sports Development Unit and Livewell@Work. We hope to build on and strengthen this during year two.
One school in the city has signed up to Thrive Plymouth as an employer, is Mount Tamar School. This is a specialist residential school for young people aged 5 to 16 who have behaviour, emotional and social difficulties. The school also has students with complex learning difficulties and autism.
As part of their work towards the Workplace Wellbeing Charter, the school has enabled staff to access free health checks and flu jabs, started a breakfast club for staff and pupils, and fostered a more open environment where staff can talk more openly about any pressures or worries they may have.
Wendy Pannell, HR Manager at Mount Tamar School, who will be presenting at the Thrive Year 2 launch event, said: “Signing up to the Workplace Wellbeing Charter has made a huge difference to the school, it has changed our whole ethos and ways of working.
“It really has made a big difference, we all look out for each other now and people feel more able to talk if they feel under pressure.
“I would definitely recommend other schools engage with Thrive Plymouth – a lot of the time schools may feel they are too busy to take on something like this but I would say to them by doing this you will reap the benefits, both for individuals and for the school collectively.”
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust also signed up to Thrive Plymouth to improve employee health and wellbeing at the Trust, which employs 6,500 staff on six different sites.
Nick Thomas, Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Site Services and Planning said: “We are an important part of the local health system providing essential support to the local population and further afield. We are one of the city’s largest employers and employee health and wellbeing is very important to us”.
“We have a number of initiatives in place to support our staff to make healthy lifestyle choices, such as our occupational health and wellbeing and smoking cessation services. As part of this approach we are developing a new facility with an affordable membership plan to encourage a wider participation, we are also developing a health and wellbeing champion programme which will hopefully kick start a social movement encouraging more of our staff to participate in activities to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
“We are committed to taking these building blocks and engaging further with our staff as part of Thrive Plymouth, to continue to support them and their families to make healthier choices.”
For more information on Thrive Plymouth visit www.plymouth.gov.uk/thrive