[photo credit: www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk]

People living in an inner-city area of Gloucester have been sharing their ideas on how to get more locals to eat healthy and stay active.

Cooking classes, community food growing and more physical activity opportunities would help to improve the lifestyles of those living in the community of Podsmead, according to its residents.

A number of people living in Podsmead – identified as an area with few shops and poor public transport – were asked for their views on all things food-related as part of the Food and Families Project – a short-term research project jointly led by Healthwatch Gloucestershire and Evolving Communities.

The findings have now gone into a report for Gloucestershire Public Health – this will feed into a national piece of work led by Leeds Beckett University to help local authorities tackle obesity.

Teams of volunteer researcher met with residents and a free community lunch was also organised to help gather the views of locals.

The research found out:

  • Access to affordable, fresh food is an issue for residents without a car.
  • Residents were in favour of a mini supermarket selling affordable fresh and good quality food on the estate.
  • Some residents were concerned that unhealthy food is cheap while fresh healthy food is expensive.
  • Busy mums said they welcome any ideas for quick, cheap and healthy meals, especially for fussy eaters.
  • Some residents are interested in sharing and developing skills around cooking and growing food.
  • The idea of a food collection/donation point for people to utilise and share surplus/waste food was popular.

Julia Butler-Hunt, Manager at Healthwatch Gloucestershire, said: “People need to know they are being listened to.  Feedback, follow up and action on the findings of the Podsmead Food & Families project will be important to counteract the cynicism and hopelessness expressed by some Podsmead residents.

“This was a short-term, small scale project but residents were clear and consistent in their feedback.  Our findings were supported by similar research and by local organisations, which enabled us to be confident in our report recommendations to the council.”

Recommendations from Evolving Communities and Healthwatch Gloucestershire to Gloucestershire Public Health include:

  • Act on what people have said – residents have told us their ideas for improvement.
  • Maintain and build on what is already happening – any change will need the input and support of local people and trusted groups active on the estate.
  • Support and resource more ‘bottom up’ work – offering a range of ways for people to contribute works best, including community researcher roles, skill sharing and events organisation.
  • Future work should aim to involve a broader cross section of Podsmead residents, including older people and working people, children and young people.

The full Podsmead Food & Families Project Report can be viewed at www.healthwatchgloucestershire.co.uk/reports-publications

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