A selection of sports equipment

Twenty years ago the nation’s health challenge was to become smoke free; today it’s inactivity which is causing increased health risk and costing the NHS in Essex alone £58 million each year.

Active Essex, the county sports partnership (CSP) has today launched a new four year strategy to tackle the issues around inactivity and change 1 million lives by getting Essex active.

Currently, one in five Essex residents doesn’t take part in any form of physical activity or sport and the levels of inactivity are highest amongst people on low incomes, women, those with disabilities or life-limiting illnesses and the unemployed. Recent figures also reveal that only 20% of 15 year olds are active for an hour each day and 30% of children in Year 6 are overweight or obese.

The strategy is backed by Essex County Council, Sport England, 12 local councils and the two unitary authorities in Greater Essex. The 14 local Active Networks across Essex are all developing individual plans for their areas so collectively the 1 million target can be met by 2021.

Active Essex will focus on four main priorities as part of the 1 million strategy: to drive and sustain participation in physical activity; improve health and wellbeing amongst specific groups who are currently inactive; develop the people and organisations who work or volunteer in the sector and strengthen the local partnerships and networks between all those involved in delivering the plan.

Azeem Akhtar, Chair, Active Essex, launching the strategy, said:  “There are many conditions associated with inactivity such as the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease and we’ll be working with the residents of Greater Essex and our partners to change 1 million lives and get Essex Active.”

The new changing lives strategy has been backed by Dr Zoe Williams, a GP and clinical champion for physical activity for Public Health England. Dr Williams is an expert in changing behaviours to help improve health and wellbeing in a range of ages and abilities.

Dr Williams commented; “It is wonderful to see Active Essex taking such a positive approach to support communities become more active. I have seen first-hand how individuals’ lives have been transformed by becoming more active and by working together, the benefits can be shared for generations to come.”

Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for education, said: “Essex County Council is committed to improving the health of its residents and the forward looking strategy that Active Essex has announced will help us deliver that. By understanding the needs of communities across Greater Essex, we can work together to get 1 million people more active.”

Ed Sandham, Sport England’s local County Sports Partnership representative, commented: “We work to get more people active across England – regardless of age, background or ability. The strategy that Active Essex has launched is targeted to the needs of people in Essex and it is positive to see the passion and drive to really make a difference and get people active.”

For more information about Active Essex visit www.activeessex.org

Download the Active Essex Changing One Millions Lives Strategy here