Suffolk: Sport England pledge £424,000 to help smokers and overweight people get more active

Suffolk is set to benefit from more than £400,000 in funding to improve sport participation and heal

Suffolk is set to benefit from more than £400,000 in funding to improve sport participation and health in the county, following on from the London 2012 legacy promise.

SMOKERS and overweight people in Suffolk at risk of developing poor health will benefit from more than £400,000 of Government funding for sport, officials have claimed.

Sport England has announced that Suffolk County Council, in partnership with Suffolk Sport, Live Well Suffolk and Abbeycroft Leisure, has been awarded £424,000.

The windfall is expected to be invested in the council’s “Get Healthy, Get Into Sport” project, which helps inactive people – identified by the NHS as being high-risk but engaged in improving their health – develop a long-term involvement in sport.

The initiative, one of 14 projects across England receiving £5.8million from Sport England, comes as new figures show that the cost of inactivity to the NHS in the east of England is almost £104m.

Jennie Price, chief executive of Sport England – which revealed the findings, based on 2009/10 figures – said: “We are paying a heavy price for inactivity both in terms of people’s health and the burden on the NHS.

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“These lottery-funded projects will help tens of thousands of people to get healthier and demonstrate the value of investing in sport and physical activity.”

People on weight-loss or quit-smoking classes in the county will be encouraged to become more active through involvement in community sport activities. The project will also engage with the wider non-active population through a range of healthcare settings, such as GP surgeries and mental health services.

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Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “If physical activity was a drug it would be regarded as a miracle, so everyone must take this seriously.

“Even relatively small amounts of exercise can have huge benefits to your health and help prevent serious health conditions like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.”

The Suffolk “Get Healthy, Get into Sport” project expects to see an extra 3,500 people engaged in community sport following the funding – while encouraging long-term participation in sport.

Adam Baker, pictured, Suffolk County Council’s “Most Active County” project manager, said: “We have set ourselves an ambitious long-term target of becoming the most active county in England and this National Lottery funding from Sport England will make a real difference.

“As our legacy from London 2012, we are determined to reduce levels of inactivity across Suffolk. Through this project, we will be able to help people move from health care directly into playing sport and more active lifestyles.

“We are thrilled with this news and are looking forward to launching the project in the summer.”

Tessa Lindfield, director of public health for the county council, said she hoped the funding boost would strengthen links between sport and healthcare providers.

She added: “Sport is a great way to exercise and meet people as well as being important for health and wellbeing.”

Steven Lee-Foster, director of Live Well Suffolk, said: “Many of our clients want the opportunity to try a sport following the completion of one our courses and they will now have the chance to take the next step to a healthier and more active life.”

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