Welsh Government has today (18 March 2021) published its refreshed 2021-22 Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales (HW:HW) Delivery Plan.
It was announced last week (10 March) that £6.5 million is being invested in combatting obesity and diabetes in Wales, in a bid to support those most likely to be severely affected by the pandemic. Today’s plan sets out how the funding is set to benefit older people and families.
Living Streets Cymru, part of the UK charity for everyday walking has welcomed the publication of the plan and says walking should be prioritised.
Rhiannon Hardiman, Wales Manager, Living Streets Cymru says:
“It’s fantastic to see plans being put in place so we can emerge from the pandemic healthier and happier.
“Walking has been a lifeline during the pandemic, helping people stay active and connected. It is the most accessible exercise available and has the power to reduce the risk of heart disease, respiratory disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes. It’s also good for mental health and wellbeing, can reduce social isolation in older adults and improves children’s performance at school.
“Investment in walking must be prioritised so people are encouraged to walk more on streets that are safer, cleaner and less congested.”
The funding, outlined following the Welsh Government's Budget, will support those most likely to be severely affected by the pandemic and target children and older people to support them to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
The Healthy Weight: Healthy Wales (HW:HW) Delivery Plan will invest over £600,000 towards improving physical inactivity amongst older people, which will help support recovery from the pandemic to encourage healthy behaviours, as well as improving the health of those most likely to be severely affected by coronavirus.
Living Streets Cymru runs the Walking Friends Wales project which helps people over the age of 50 build-up confidence and strength to start walking and gradually get more active. It is endorsed by Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Heléna Herklots CBE and funded by the Healthy & Active Fund, a partnership between Welsh Government, Sport Wales and Public Health Wales.
More than £600,000 will also be targeted at improving the health of children and young people where there are higher levels of health inequalities and a high proportion of the child population who are obese.
Living Streets Cymru runs a number of initiatives to help children and their families walk to and from school, including WOW – the year-round walk to school challenge – where pupils record their journeys to school daily and are rewarded for walking more frequently.
Living Streets Cymru is working in partnership with Cardiff Council and Vale of Glamorgan Council to introduce the initiative to schools in 2021–22.