A NATIONAL pilot scheme will be encouraging patients in parts of Staffordshire to do more walking and cycling.
Staffordshire County Council successfully bid for £834,000 to be spent over three years in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where hundreds of people will be prescribed walking or cycling by their GP to help increase physical activity, improve their mental health and quality of life.
David Williams, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “Not only will hundreds benefit directly from this support, but so will their families and the wider community. We will be using the money to have a small number of coaches working in the community, visiting people at home for one-to-one sessions and organising and leading walking and cycling events locally.”
The scheme, named ‘Get INTO cycling and walking in Newcastle’, will operate for residents in Newcastle town centre and areas to the north and west, including Cross Heath, Holditch, Knutton, Silverdale and Parksite. The money, from the Department of Transport, will also be used to provide adapted equipment, including tricycles and hand-cycles and to improve paths and cycle routes in the town.
David Williams added: “The benefits of exercise are well known and this scheme is targeted at helping those who currently do very little, if any, activity by supporting them and making it easier for them to take the first steps.
“Not only does walking and cycling improve individual health by managing weight and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, less reliance on cars will improve air quality and reduce congestion.
“This project will this have a short-term benefit but hopefully change habits for the long term and create better facilities for residents to use for travelling to work and education, as well as for pleasure.”
Although the funding is specifically for parts of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire County Council is already running specific schemes promoting ‘active travel’ in Leek, Burton, Cannock and Stafford. Further support for walking and cycling across the county is available at Get INTO Cycle Training – Staffordshire County Council