Members move to prioritise residents’ wellbeing
Babergh and Mid Suffolk councillors have given the go-ahead to a new Wellbeing Strategy – building upon the councils’ continued commitment to helping its residents live happy, healthy and independent lives.
The strategy was approved at Babergh’s Full Council meeting on Tuesday (21 September) and by Mid Suffolk councillors yesterday (23 September), following a presentation from the cabinet member and subsequent debate.
It aims to ensure that everyone in Babergh and Mid Suffolk has the best possible conditions for good wellbeing, and consideration has been given to the approach required by the councils and its partners to achieve this, as well as the strategic objectives required to get the right results.
There are also three long term outcomes included in the strategy, which maps out the councils’ wellbeing ambitions until 2027:
- Families lead active, healthy, safe and independent lives and manage their own health & wellbeing
- Sustainable and inclusive places, and spaces, which maximise health & wellbeing opportunities and benefits
- Health inequalities will be reduced
Whilst the comprehensive strategy links to other council priorities including tackling homelessness and addressing climate change, it will primarily focus on five key themes which have the most meaningful impact on health and wellbeing, consisting of personal wellbeing, health, relationships, what we do and where we live.
These will help inform the strategy’s high level actions and detailed delivery plan – subject to ongoing review to ensure relevance in the ever changing landscape.
The strategy has also been shaped by extensive research, with wellbeing factors – including mental and physical health, relationships, and surroundings – being measured across Babergh and Mid Suffolk to identify current strengths and weaknesses.
This highlighted the positive work of the councils’ communities team and its partners to date, including offering art therapy and mental health support for new parents, holiday activity and food projects for low income families, cookery courses for elderly and isolated residents, and sports activities such as free outdoor fitness classes in Great Cornard and Stowmarket.
Invaluable support was also given to communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, with council officers making over 25,000 calls to housing tenants and contact made with more than 6,000 Clinically Extremely Vulnerable residents to offer help and advice during lockdown. This was in addition to dealing with over 1,500 calls from the Home, But Not Alone service, which provided a lifeline for those needing assistance with financial difficulties, social isolation or obtaining essential food and medical supplies in the peak of the pandemic.
A dedicated Covid-19 Emerging Needs Grant was also set up, which saw over £171,000 paid to charities and organisations across Babergh and Mid Suffolk. A further £1.4 million was paid in other council community grants during 2020/21, with recipients including Citizens Advice, Community Action Suffolk, Rural Coffee Caravan and Lighthouse Women’s Aid.
The Wellbeing Strategy will support this existing work and complement the recently refreshed Leisure, Sport and Physical Activity Strategy and recruitment of a new Communities and Wellbeing Assistant Director – a shared post with the Clinical Commissioning Groups – ensuring Babergh and Mid Suffolk remain great communities with bright and healthy futures that everyone is proud to call home.
Cllr Derek Davis, Babergh District Council cabinet member for communities commented:
“I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in preparing a strategy which will enable our residents to lead active, healthy, safe and independent lives – and my fellow councillors for agreeing that wellbeing should be given the priority it rightfully deserves.
“We’ve made some great progress on this so far, with initiatives such as our active wellbeing workshop in Shotley, Hadleigh cookery scheme and outdoor fitness classes in Great Cornard already improving the mental and physical health of Babergh communities.
“This is an ambitious strategy aimed at reaching all our residents, working with a wide range of partners to achieve our aims, and I can’t wait to see the positive difference that it will make for many years to come.”
Cllr Harry Richardson, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing said:
“The past eighteen months has tested everyone’s mental and physical health like never before – highlighting the need for wellbeing to continue to form an important part of our council’s work, as well as being instrumental in a swift recovery for Mid Suffolk.
“I am therefore delighted that, in addition to allocating £1million for wellbeing from our 2021/22 budget, we will be adopting a well-researched, overarching Wellbeing Strategy – enabling us to effectively direct resources, measure impact and change tactics if necessary, as well as building upon the incredible work of our communities team to date.”
Following adoption, the Wellbeing Strategy will be published on the councils’ website as a digitally interactive document to ensure accessibility and accountability.