Cranbrook ‘healthy town’ initiatives get underway

20 September 2017

Initiatives to get Cranbrook residents fit and healthy are getting underway, after it was chosen as one of ten demonstrator sites for NHS England’s ‘Healthy New Towns’ programme.

The programme aims to put ‘health at the heart of new communities’, and radically rethink how we approach housing development.

Cranbrook has three times the national average of 0-4 year olds, and the programme will focus on developing a supportive environment to encourage healthy lifestyles from birth – whether that be the provision of cycle paths, bike storage and places to meet and socialise or encouragement and promotion through schools, clubs and community initiatives like Cranbake cooking clubs, balanceability and community choirs.

The population of Cranbrook is expected to rise to 20,000 over the next 15 years, and the healthy new towns scheme will be a defining part of its growth.

Among other initiatives, Devon County Council is promoting cycling through Cycle September. Cranbrook residents will be encouraged to join in a guided cycle to work week, take advantage of one week of free bike hire, or take advantage of a free Dr Bike maintenance and repair sessions.

Lucy o’Loughlin, Public Health consultant at Devon County Council said: “There’s lots of work going on behind the scenes to plan safe streets, great places to socialise, easily accessible services, local work opportunities and communities where it’s easy to get to know your neighbours.

“At the same time, there are a growing number of events and activities to encourage residents to get involved and try out new activities for themselves, such as the cycling promotions, a monthly mocktail bar, nature trail, toddler groups and specific drop-in advice sessions around sun safety and dental health at the pharmacy.”

Tooth decay was the most common reason for hospital admission in children aged 5 to 9 years old in 2013 to 14 and parents have the opportunity to attend free dental advice sessions from local dentist Anthony Ihimekpen on 6 and 20 September in the Cranbrook pharmacy.

And Cranbrook Education Campus and other local organisations will be joining a Sugar Smart initiative, to promote healthy eating messages amongst school children and improve oral health.  Sugar Smart aims to support organisations to create a healthier food environment and make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Broadclyst Councillor Ray Bloxham said: “It is really encouraging to see so many families from both Cranbrook and surrounding villages taking advantage of the open spaces in Cranbrook and using the country park for everything from an afternoon walk to more vigorous exercise like running and exercise groups. The play parks are very busy with children of all ages enjoying outdoor activity and with more open space and play parks in the pipeline there will be growing opportunities for the town to develop a healthy lifestyle.”

As well as creating a healthy place to live, as part of the NHS England programme there is also a focus on new models of care when this is needed.  Dr Simon Kerr, Ottery St Mary GP and clinical chair of the Eastern locality of NHS Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In Cranbrook we will be looking at new ways of measuring risks to health and wellbeing and how we can provide earlier information, advice and support for people.

“This will give us a focus for being more proactive in preventing poor health for the population Cranbrook, as well as providing us with learning that can contribute to improving services across the wider Devon area.

“We are pleased to be involved and working with our partners in the Healthy New Town in the planning for this innovative programme.”

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