A look back at 2020 at Intelligent Health


The Transport Minister Michael Matheson is a the Falkirk Wheel for the launch of Beat The Street Forth & Clyde


At Intelligent Health, we’ve worked hard to make the most out of the strange situation that we’ve found ourselves in this year and have tried to use this time to think about what wasn’t working about the ‘old normal’.

While a difficult year for many, the pandemic has in some ways enabled everyone to take a step back and ‘reset’. We believe this is an ideal opportunity to think about doing things differently when the world starts to recover.

Intelligent Health founder Dr William Bird recently contributed to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Walking and Cycling to discuss how and why active travel is an essential element of a green recovery. Along with experts on public health and cycling, the online webinar provided some background on the importance of introducing active travel and the utilisation of green space into the Environment Bill that is currently going through Parliament.

Dr William Bird works as a GP as well as being the CEO of Intelligent Health, and his interactions with COVID-19 patients provided a unique insight into this novel virus. He was able to give practical advice on how to avoid the virus, how to recognise the symptoms (sense of smell and COVID toes were not widely heard of at the outset), how to stay well, and of course, to encourage people that now, more than ever, regular physical activity is the key to staying well.

William produced weekly blogs and videos and made himself available to the media to reassure and advise people and has now become a regular sight on BBC Breakfast and BBC News.

Unfortunately, we had to bring our February Beat the Street games to a slightly earlier conclusion owing to lockdown restrictions, but players in East Renfrewshire, Blaby and Chesterfield still managed to walk a total of 70,000 miles, 83,500 miles and 143,132 miles respectively.

We had a lot of positive feedback from people telling us that the game was encouraging them get outside to get that all-important bit of daily exercise and was helping with mental health too.

While we had to stop Beat the Street temporarily, we wanted to continue to support local communities and so in the space of a week, we quickly ‘pivoted’ and became Beat the Bug.

This was an online campaign to encourage people to stay well during this time, which drew on the five ways to wellbeing; give, keep learning, be active, connect and take notice. We encouraged people to stay active with online workouts, Facebook Live Q and As, and signposted people to local initiatives, events and ways of staying connected to their local communities, local groups and charities.

We had a mailing list of 35,000 and the campaign reached the shortlist of the Vuelio online influence awards in the best cause led influence campaign.

During this time, we worked hard to ensure that all jobs were retained at Intelligent Health and also held regular meetings to ensure that staff remained connected.

A staff wellbeing survey showed that all staff strongly agreed or agreed with the statements that “I generally feel positive towards work at my company” and that ‘Intelligent Health is an organisation that cares for its people’. All staff strongly agreed or agreed with the statement “I am satisfied with the flexible working arrangements made by the organisation.”

In between the first and second waves of the virus, we were able to launch a new COVID safe version of Beat the Street in Eastbourne, Forth and Clyde and again in East Renfrewshire. We made the Beat Boxes and card and fobs more sensitive so that no contact was needed, plus introduced social distancing advice and changed the format of the events, so the game could proceed. Again, we had a lot of feedback saying that the game had got people active and reminded them of the importance of healthy lifestyles to improve your chances if you got the virus.

A further 2,185 people took part in a Beat the Street Forth and Clyde game which drew people to the Falkirk Canal. Players travelled a total of 15,272.5 miles during the four-week game.

Intelligent Health also delivered Beat the Street Eastbourne which was a real success story in showcasing our work with multiple stakeholders across the National Lottery on behalf of Sport England, Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex County Council Public Health, South Downs National Park and eDEAL.

Many of these stakeholders were featured in a wonderful piece on BBC Breakfast, filmed with Langney Primary School schools, families, the mayor Steve Wallis, the Director of Public Health for East Sussex Darrell Gale, and Eastbourne car free day organiser Tom Nevill.

Dr William Bird was invited to take part in Eastbourne’s Making Natural History event which marked the 25th anniversary of the UN Children’s Conference that took place in the town in 1995.

Another success this year was the development of a smaller Beat the Street scheme run by Active Partnerships. Four games were run across Bridgwater, Trowbridge and Sinfin and Clay Cross in Derbyshire by three Active Partnerships with the aim of helping local partners to work more collaboratively with their communities.

Somerset Active Sports Partnership (SASP), Wiltshire Active Sports Partnership (WASP) and Active Derbyshire engaged a total of 12,964 players who travelled 129,331 miles in four weeks. Three quarters of participating adults and children provided demographic data (9,793) and 64% (8395) provided health data. There were also 623,289 visits to the website and high engagement on social media and e-newsletters.

As well as the Beat the Street games, Intelligent Health also delivered GP training, engaged with Patient Participant Groups across Newham and delivered a wellbeing campaign to thousands of staff at a well-known corporation. A new engagement coordinator has been appointed to help deliver the My Journey Wokingham campaign to encourage more schoolchildren to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

Intelligent Health is looking forward to delivering more Beat the Street games in 2021, so please stay tuned for more news!

Dr William Bird said: This has been an extraordinary year, and our thoughts are very much with those people who have lost loved ones.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that change is possible and we cannot go back to the old ways. We believe that there are plenty of opportunities to encourage people to develop new lifestyle habits such as walking and cycling to school or work.

“Active travel is integral in the move towards a net-zero carbon economy and also provides other health, economic, and social benefits such as air quality and a healthier community.

“We would like to wish all of our partners, teams, stakeholders, players and friends a very happy Christmas and we look forward to walking with you in 2021”.

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