Intelligent Health creates campaigns that build active communities and encourage people of all ages and abilities to make physical activity a long-term habit.
Intelligent Health was founded by Dr William Bird MBE, a practising GP who realised that more needed to be done to encourage people to move more as activity is fundamental to health. As Dr William Bird explains: “Not moving leads to damage from free radicals released by mitochondria in human cells. This causes premature aging and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and depression. There is no medication or diet that will prevent this damage. There is a simple cure though — being more active! If we want to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities we need to be ambitious, provide a clear narrative to get people active and support them on their journey.
Physical activity has more health benefits than any other single intervention. Globally, around 23% of adults aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (men 20% and women 27%). In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women were insufficiently physically active.”
William will be presenting at the Local Government Association Annual Public Health conference and exhibition this week at Victoria Park Plaza on the need for health professionals to be physical activity specialists and public health departments to work closely together to help make walking a social norm. William will also be presenting to the QUEST conference, Loughborough and the National Primary School PE Conference in Croydon later in the month.
Beat the Street is a 12 month programme that encourages whole communities to get moving. Physical activity has been called “one of the best buys in public health” and Beat the Street leads to long term behaviour change by creating a social norm around walking and cycling.
2015 was an extremely busy year for Intelligent Health as Beat the Street took place in 21 areas across the UK and beyond. In total, more than 175,000 people walked a collective total of 1.25 million miles! The Beat the Street programme kicked off on Valentine’s day in Terni, Italy before heading to Aldershot; Calne and Devizes in Wiltshire, Reading and Lowestoft. The September programmes saw Beat the Street enjoy huge success in the towns of Annan and Dalbeattie in Dumfries and Galloway where 39% and 36% of the populations took part respectively and Hounslow. Twenty-six and a half thousand residents also walked, cycled and ran round their communities in Athens, Greece and Gdansk in Poland.
In autumn, Beat the Street took place in East London within the four boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest. This was delivered on behalf of the National Charity Partnership, a collaboration between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco.
East London was the first of six areas where the National Charity Partnership is funding the programme as part of their commitment to helping support 40,000 families in areas most at need across the UK to get active and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. Supporting these areas is part of the Partnership’s ‘Let’s Do This’ campaign which aims to inspire millions of people to take small and achievable steps to a healthier life.
For 2016, we’re about to embark on our first Midlands projects. We are running Beat the Street Wolverhampton, Birmingham and one for the National Charity Partnership in Sandwell which will all take place from 24th February to 13th April. A further project will take place at the same time in Isleworth (Hounslow) plus one in Terni, Italy.
In order to ensure the smooth-running of these schemes, the Intelligent Health team has grown!
We’d like to introduce four new engagement managers in the Midlands; Tahir Ahmed and Marya Afsar who have been appointed as engagement managers in Sandwell, plus Clare Williams and Asad Agha as engagement managers in Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
Meanwhile, Stuart Tryhorn and Alex Grimshaw who provided engagement support in East London have now been taken on permanently and will be responsible for the mapping of Beat Boxes for new projects — an essential task!
Additionally, Natalie Ganpatsingh has joined Intelligent Health to share her wealth of knowledge and experience on nature. She will be helping key partners to engage with urban communities and exploring how they can spend more time in green spaces.
We have devised a standard evaluation protocol for Beat the Street which has been extensively tested and validated. Working with the independent The Evidence Centre, participation levels are measured by ward, activity levels of participants and provide basic demographic information about the people taking part.
The evaluation is conducted in two stages; at the end of the live Beat the Street game and six months afterwards at the end of the legacy phase. This will also explore people’s attitudes and perceptions of the Beat the Street and the impact they feel it has had on their health, their connection to their community and their local area.
In 2015, participation ranged from 14% to 39% of a local population and between 93% and 100% of participants who gave feedback across the projects said they would recommend Beat the Street to a friend.
In other news, we have been nominated for a number of awards:
We were shortlisted for The London Sport Awards in their Make it Easier and Resources categories for the Beat the Street East London scheme. Members of the Intelligent Health team attended with representatives from the National Charity Partnership at a presentation held at Lord’s Cricket Club last week. We went onto win the Resources category and it was an inspirational evening recognising the outstanding achievements made by those helping to make London the most physically active city in the world by 2020.
We have also been shortlisted for UK Active’s Flame Awards which celebrate innovation and excellence across the leisure sector. We’re through to the next round in April, so please keep your fingers firmly crossed!
In other news, you may have seen this piece in the Independent about methods that can help you stick to your health goals in the post-Christmas/early New Year period. They kindly included a tip from Dr William Bird MBE, founder and CEO of Intelligent Health. You can read it (and benefit from it!) here.