Intelligent Health unveils 10 ingredients for successfully building active communities
Intelligent Health, the company that runs a successful walking and cycling initiative called Beat the Street, has unveiled a new drive to improve the health of the nation by building active communities.
The company has relaunched this week with a renewed commitment to reducing inactivity across whole communities. This follows the Government’s consultation on sport.
Intelligent Health was set up by Dr William Bird, a GP who has had a life-long commitment to getting people outdoors and active.
Dr Bird said: “If we want to improve the health and wellbeing of the country 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 and is the means to a healthy community.
“We need to focus on becoming an active nation by involving whole communities. We believe if these sectors work together there can be a strong platform to build happy, healthy places where we would all choose to live.”
Intelligent Health has recently received a funding boost of £300,000 from Mercia Fund Management to help expand the programme into new markets and to develop new activity programmes.
Mercia Fund Management is one of the leading investors in UK technology and the wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercia Technologies PLC, and has invested in Intelligent Health to help the Reading-based company to continue scaling the business nationally and internationally, as well as building on the company’s strong relationships with local government authorities and NHS clinical commissioning groups.
Since formation, Intelligent Health’s services have been taken up successfully across England and Scotland, as well as in Europe and the US.
Included in Intelligent Health’s core services is the community-based activity challenge, Beat the Street, which turns an area into a real-life walking game using RFID Smart card readers which are placed on lamp-posts.
Players can join teams and win prizes by taking part; however, the aim of the competition is to help participants to develop life-long activity habits.
The initiative has seen a great deal of success — in 2015 alone, 20 locations and 132,200 residents in England, Scotland, Italy and Poland have played. Current projects include four boroughs around the Olympic Park in East London, Hounslow and Basingstoke.
Peter Dines, Investment Director and Head of Life Sciences at Mercia, said: “This is an area that Mercia has been seeking to get involved in for some time now and I am truly pleased to identify Intelligent Health as what we believe to be a leading early stage player in this field. The company represents an exciting opportunity to support a scientifically proven technology that is capable of tackling one of the most pressing global issues.
“Intelligent Health also benefits from a renowned clinical champion as its CEO, a strong management team and a good sales pipeline, which will allow it to expand both nationally and internationally, not to mention make a positive change to the lives of millions.”
Dr William Bird, CEO of Intelligent Health, said: “Intelligent Health is at an exciting stage in its development and I am delighted that Mercia Fund Management has come on board to support our growth. They have unparalleled expertise in the advancement of pioneering businesses, understand our vision and can help us build active communities on a greater scale. We look forward to a dynamic, productive relationship.”
Dr William Bird, founder of Intelligent Health, is delivering a keynote speech at Northern Ireland environment link’s annual conference on Tuesday 24 November.
The conference takes place at Queen’s University, Belfast and brings together environment and health representatives from public agencies, local authorities and the third sector from across the United Kingdom to explore the health benefits gained from the natural environment. Northern Ireland Environment Link is the national forum and networking body for organisations interested in the environment. NIEL was formally launched in 1990 to complete the UK network: Scottish Environment Link, Wales Environment Link and Wildlife and Countryside Link.
Dr Bird’s keynote speech is entitled “Natural Health Service — a Call to Action” and will focus on the links between health and nature.
The speech will help promote understanding of how a healthy environment is essential to human health and well-being and how this can be delivered.
Dr William Bird explained; “54% of the world live in cities yet we were designed to live amongst nature. It is this disconnection from nature that is so damaging to human health yet it is only recently that we know the importance that this disconnection is having on disease.”
Intelligent Health runs the successful Beat the Street walking programme around the UK and internationally, a competition that has so far seen 150,000 take part this year. Previously, Dr Bird set up Green Gyms and Walking for Health.
The Royal Society of Public Health film highlights Beat the Street in Wiltshire
Beat the Street is featured in a new report style programme from the Royal Society of Public Health. Entitled ‘Improve and Protect’. The RSPH have collaborated with ITN Productions to highlight some of the nation’s public health challenges and initiatives in the sector. The programmes aim to heighten awareness among policy makers, politicians and the wider public.
Introduced by Natasha Kaplinsky, the news-style piece combines key figures and reports with editorial profiles of some of the leading organisations aiming to improve the public’s health.
The Beat the Street piece looks at how the two Wiltshire towns of Calne and Devizes were positively affected by the programme in May and June 2015.
Jane Scott, OBE leader of Wiltshire Council explains what the key benefits of Beat the Street were for residents: “We were keeping large numbers of the population healthy. They were getting into the habit of walking to and from school; to the shops and to the leisure centre and back. Things they might have got into the car for which we were trying to stop. But the last thing which was quite interesting was there were friendships formed, and these friendships are still going.”
Beat the Street in Wiltshire engaged 24% of the population — over 8,000 residents in Calne and Devizes.
Twenty-two percent of residents in Popley, Basingstoke have just completed Beat the Street travelling round the world on the way!
The competition ran from 30th September to 11th November and saw Popley residents rise to the challenge of walking, cycling or running.
Beat the Street was supported by Basingstoke and Deane Council and 2,426 people took part – 22% of residents.
The prize giving ceremony was held on Friday 20 November. A prize of £250 was awarded to Ian Bailey who was the highest scoring individual in the competition. Part of the Melrose Hall and Popley Fields Community Cycle Club, he travelled an incredible 330 miles, despite having recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. “My GP said I should do more exercise, but will probably be surprised to hear how far I’ve walked,” he joked.
Melrose Hall and Popley Fields Community Cycle Club were winners of average points leaderboard and will use their prize money to fund free bike maintenance sessions in January to help people ensure their bikes are roadworthy and safe. Vicki Jackson from the team said: “We have had a great time competing in in Beat the Street and through this competition we have gained two new members and two additional members that want to ride with us in the future.
“As a ride leader I now have a better knowledge of local cycle paths and have planned a few new routes. It has also helped me find out where cycle routes can be improved in Popley and from this I have participated in the council cycle strategy. Whilst out on the streets I have noticed a big improvement in the friendliness of other participants, cheery hellos, helping each other to find the boxes, discussing the best routes between Beat Boxes.”
St Bede’s Catholic Primary School won the overall leaderboard and came second on the average points board. Their team comprising 505 people travelled a total of 8,018 miles.
The school received a special trophy and winning cheque from Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane Councillor Anne Court. The school is hoping to use the money to assist with their forthcoming playground redevelopment.
Katherine Adams, PE lead and reception teacher said: “The children absolutely loved Beat the Street and were really inspired and motivated much more than other walking initiatives. We are quite an active school anyway but this scheme brought together the whole community and brought out the school’s competitive side.
“All of the pupils were not only walking to school but also walking and going out on bikes at weekends and in the evenings. Children, staff and parents have all had a lot of fun and found the Beat Boxes very sociable.”
Marnel Junior School came second on the leaderboard for highest number of miles travelled.
Higher Level Teaching Assistant from Marnel, Trish Legge said: “The children have loved it and you could hear a real buzz in the playground. It really gave them something to do and helped them discover new places.”
Suny Ravenscroft from Beat the Street added: “Congratulations to everyone who walked, cycled and ran in the Beat the Street competition and well done to the winning teams. We’d like to thank everyone who helped us walk as far as possible. It has been a very successful initiative with thousands of people taking part across the area. We’d love you to keep up the good work by continuing to ditch the car and to carry on adopting active lifestyles.”
Beat the Street gets on its bike for East London prize giving
Beat the Street, in East London was completed with a prize giving ceremony, staged at the Velodrome, on Tuesday 17 November.
The iconic home of cycling for the 2012 Olympics was a prestigious venue for the winning teams to receive their trophies and prizes. Their competition was set in and around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding boroughs.
The seven-week walking challenge was taken up by 78 schools and community groups across Waltham Forest, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets and challenged residents to race to space and, in turn, improve their health. Twenty-two thousand residents tried the game, collectively travelling over 103,958 miles into space.
The winning teams were presented with trophies by representatives from the National Charity Partnership in the centre of the Velodrome track.
Mark Camley, Executive Director of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park spoke at the ceremony saying: “Congratulations to all who took part in this competition. Our park is at the centre of your community and it has been great to see so many of you coming and enjoying Beat the Street and the park’s facilities.”
Babs Evans, Head of Prevention for the National Charity Partnership, explains; “Being inactive can lead to a multitude of health problems for children, including an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease in later life. It has also been associated with concentration and behavioural issues in the past. The benefits of physical activity outside of the classroom and within the community are vast. Walking just half an hour a day will improve health, quality of life and wellbeing. This is also a good opportunity for families to educate themselves about their lifestyle choices.”
East London was the first of six areas where the project is to be funded by the National Charity Partnership between BHF, Diabetes UK and Tesco. These areas have been identified as at increased risk from developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Hackney: Millfields Community School and Baden-Powell School
Newham: Quwwat Ul Islam Girls’ School
Tower Hamlets: Chisenhale Primary School and Olga Primary School
Waltham Forest: St Joseph’s Infant School and St Joseph’s Catholic Junior School
The Pride of Reading Awards have recognised Intelligent Health with a Healthy Lifestyle Award sponsored by Green Park.
The award is for the innovative game called Beat the Street and for the company’s efforts to raise activity levels of an entire town.
Dr William Bird MBE came up with the idea of Beat the Street in 2011 to help people reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle through more walking and cycling.
This year’s Beat the Street saw almost 24,000 people from Reading and the surrounding area walk and cycle more than 306,000 miles in just eight weeks, from April 29 to June 24. Twenty one areas in total have taken part in Beat the Street in 2015.
Picking up the gong at Friday 5 November’s award ceremony, Dr Bird said: “We are delighted to receive this award because we started off in Reading and the people of Reading have made Beat The Street what it is.
“It works from the community up. The people have owned it.”