UK's healthy living rewards scheme seeks partners
In the UK there are moves afoot to help citizens improve their heath and wellbeing by rewarding healthier behaviour. One of the latest efforts is the Groundmiles rewards programme from three Primary Care Trusts (Sandwell, South Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton), Walsall Council, and Community Service Volunteers.
In the West Midland, these organisations teamed up to try to find innovative ways of encouraging businesses and communities to tackle some of the country's most serious health issues. They came together through the Countryside Agency's 'Walking the Way to Health' initiative, to reward people for improving their lifestyle.
The 'Walking for Health Initiative' is a scheme that has the support of The British Heart Foundation and The Big Lottery Fund to get people walking regularly to improve their general health. With those organisations involved, the initiative is undoubtedly a good cause.
Incentives One of the region's major tourist attractions, The Black Country Living Museum has been quick to see the benefits of the idea and is already offering 'Two for the price of one' entry for anyone taking part in health schemes running in Sandwell, South Birmingham, Walsall and Wolverhampton. Now the incentive scheme's working group is keen to hear from other businesses or organisations in the region that would be interested in coordinating a single reward scheme for the area.
Angela Smith, Walking for Health coordinator for the region (and a member of the working group) said: "WHI was set up to encourage people to walk more, and we are sure that rewarding people for embracing a healthier lifestyle makes sense. As far as we know this is the first initiative of its type and as well as the Black Country Museum we have two walking groups who are offering gift vouchers to those who improve their health in this way."
Points, not pints As far as obtaining the points to collect the rewards goes, most of the schemes are simply centred on health walk programmes. Walsall has extended Groundmiles to other programmes such as smoking cessation, weight-loss support, and healthy eating programmes.
Typical rewards The scheme is still developing but, at this early stage, individual (regional) schemes are offering a range of rewards. For example, in Walsall & Wolverhampton the rewards are mainly gift vouchers for high street stores and supermarkets, while South Birmingham offers merchandise instead (such as hats, pens, bags, and so on). Sandwell offers merchandise as well, plus discounts on healthy meals at community cafes.
Jeff McBride from Walsall Council said: "We have also discussed the possibility of rewarding other activities such as recycling, use of public transport, and volunteering."
The type of rewards offered currently reflect the funding available to each regional scheme. According to McBride, "The requests for our vouchers pretty much mirror the performances of the stores. Most popular are the supermarkets, Tesco and ASDA."
Seeking partners An initial evaluation of the Groundmiles programme is looking quite encouraging, and seems to be proving the effectiveness of linking incentives to healthy activity.
Any organisation (whether public or private sector) that may be interested in joining the scheme or helping to develop the initiative can contact Angela Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org (tel. +44 121 233 4906) or Jeff McBride at email@example.com (tel. +44 121 360 9464).