This week, NICE (the people who provide national direction and advice to improve health and social care) published new guidance.
Our Head of Policy & Communications, Tanya Braun, discusses why we support the publication.
There are five key statements in the new NICE Quality Standard encouraging physical activity in everyday life. They all support our vision and mission.
Healthier, happier communities
1. Local authorities and healthcare commissioning groups have senior level physical activity champions who are responsible for developing and implementing local strategies, policies and plans.
We've seen the positive impact that the Walking & Cycling Commissioners have had in Greater Manchester and London. Champions such as these help raise the profile of walking & cycling and bring expert organisations in this field together, to encourage change to infrastructure and inspire communities to be more physically active. They can inspire investment and real change on the ground.
In Redbridge we worked with the local authority on improving local infrastructure to improve walking routes for older adults. This, along with encouragement via led walks has seen great results for activity levels in the over 60’s.
2. Local authorities prioritise pedestrians, cyclists and people who use public transport when developing and maintaining connected travel routes.
It’s our mission to achieve a better walking environment. We believe the benefits improved travel route design and maintenance provides, helps encourage people to move more in their day-to-day lives. It’s important that our public realm supports every person to walk more - especially those who are older or more vulnerable. We need to feel safe where we walk, and routes need to be attractive.
Recently, in Scotland, we looked at how routes to bus stops impacts on local communities and have created a new report on our findings.
3. Local authorities involve community members in designing and managing public open spaces [including urban parks, squares and pedestrian areas, woods and coastline].
Open spaces are places for everyone to use to move more in their everyday lives and make journeys on foot. Our local groups consist of community champions who actively work in their communities to influence and achieve change.
Hackney Living Streets Group member, Brenda Puech set up the first Parklet in London - inspiring other local groups and authorities to bring their own streets alive. We also work with parents and teachers to identify areas where better walking routes to school can be located.
4. Workplaces have a physical activity programme to encourage employees to move more and be more physically active.
Being more active in everyday life is important for the physical and mental health of people of all ages and abilities.
Our Walking Works programme encourages workplaces and their employees to be more physically active, leading to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.
5. Schools and early years settings have active travel plans that are monitored and updated annually.
Walking or cycling to and from schools and early years settings is the easiest and most accessible form of physical activity that can be incorporated into everyday life, and ensures children start the day motivated and ready for school.
Encouraging healthy behaviour at this young age makes it more likely that the individuals will carry it on into later life. Our WOW year-round walk to school challenge sees walking rates increase by 23%, on average.
While it’s amazing to see this gold quality guidance published, we now need local authorities, workplaces, schools and parents to join us in implementing elements of the advice NICE has given.
If you believe in the five standards and want to join us on our mission; to improve the walking environment and inspire people to walk more, then sign up!
Whether it's through campaigning for streets fitter for pedestrians, or getting schools and workplaces more active, Living Streets' aim is to get more people walking more of the time.
More walking = healthier and happier communities.
You can support our work and strengthen the organisation by becoming a member.