The popular Leeds Let’s Get Active (LLGA) scheme is being funded to continue until at least November thanks to additional funding from South and East Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Central government cuts to funding for public health work in the city had raised questions about whether the scheme could continue. However, as part of a citywide agreement that LLGA’s benefits to the community need to be fully evaluated, local health professionals have agreed to support the work.
LLGA has been running since September 2013, providing free access to leisure centre and community sports and activities in a supportive and welcoming environment. With options as varied as dance and cycling, as well as health walks and mums and babies sessions, there has been an enthusiastic reception for the healthy lifestyles support being offered. Users have the chance to have at least an hour each day, seven days per week and more offered at four centres based in the more deprived parts of the city, almost one in ten people in the city have registered with LLGA.
Leeds Beckett’s University have been evaluating the impact of the scheme and initial results have been very positive. However, the full evaluation was not due to be completed until later this year. The government’s announcement of multi-million pound cuts to public health funding in 2015 meant that funding to support the initiative was no longer available and full evaluation looked at risk until health partners in the city came up with funds to support LLGA for a further eight months.
Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:
“We know that prevention pays long term dividends for health and physical activity is a key part of this. So I am really pleased we have funding which will mean we can get the evidence to demonstrate the value of Leeds Let’s Get Active to the people of the city.
“Leeds has a great record for encouraging people to get active and this scheme has helped many of those who can benefit most from extra activity. The reaction to LLGA has been really positive across the city, with people of all ages taking the opportunity to exercise and have fun in many of the classes that we have offered at our leisure centres as part of the scheme.
“At a time when money is so tight across the health and care system, it has been difficult for partners across the city to find ways to make up the shortfall caused by the government’s Public Health cuts, and I am grateful that they have done so. It is a great example of the cooperation we are seeing across Leeds to help improve health and wellbeing.”
Matt Ward, NHS Leeds South and East Clinical Commissioning Group Chief Operating Officer, said:
“With over 75,000 now registered to take part in LLGA and over 350,000 visits to the city’s leisure centres recorded from the scheme, it is clearly having an impact. Although we have many calls on our funds, we decided that it was right to invest in making sure LLGA continues and its benefits are properly evaluated.
“Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of global mortality and causes a significant burden on healthcare costs and the economy. The cost to Leeds alone is estimated to be £10.1 million per year. Ultimately if we can change the behaviour of inactive people and help them lead a more active lifestyle, then their health will improve and costs to the NHS will decrease.”