Project helps people live more healthy lives

FEELING GOOD Debbie Burns with her sons Christopher, six, and 18-month-old Oliver
FEELING GOOD Debbie Burns with her sons Christopher, six, and 18-month-old Oliver
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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Like many parents, Debbie Burns wants her children to know how to lead a healthy life.

So she decided to take them to a Healthy Pompey scheme in the city and see if they could learn fundamental ways to be healthy and live longer.

Every day after school they visited the Stacey Centre in Copnor where the Healthy Pompey team had set up a community orchard for the public to grow fruit and vegetables.

Debbie, 40, along with her six-year-old son Christopher and 18-month-old son Oliver, helped with planting and watering and even took their own Healthy Pompey growing kit home.

‘It’s had a really positive effect on our family,’ says Debbie, from Baffins.

‘We went to the Healthy Pompey community garden every day after school last year. It’s a great focal point for the community and pulled everyone together with the regular events and volunteering.

‘We also grew our own vegetables at home with our kit.’

The children had great fun learning about the benefits of growing fresh fruit and veg.

Christopher says: ‘I loved helping at the Stacey Centre and growing vegetables, I learned all about planting, watering and growing. We made hanging baskets with vegetables like carrots and broccoli, and we brought lots of new vegetables home to taste.’

The Burns family are just one example of how Healthy Pompey – a joint Portsmouth City Council and NHS Portsmouth programme – has helped thousands of people across the city.

Healthy Pompey started in December 2008 when Portsmouth won a bid for £3.1m of funding from the Department of Health for healthy lifestyle projects in the city.

Portsmouth became one of just nine local authority areas nationally to be awarded Healthy Town Status – which meant the city was actively looking for and providing ways for people to be more active and eat well.

The Healthy Pompey team introduced dozens of projects which encouraged people to grow their own food, cook and eat healthy meals and exercise more.

They held cycling events and bike rides, community grow-your-own-food days, healthy-living challenges in pre-schools and cookery classes.

The biggest event was the Big Picnic on Southsea common in May last year, when over 10,000 people enjoyed a day of free outdoor activities and healthy eating.

The Easy Freezy campaign, launched in January this year, also proved a massive success, encouraging hundreds of families to cook their own healthy ready meals to freeze and have another day.

Now families and health experts across Portsmouth are celebrating the huge success of Healthy Pompey.

‘It has promoted healthy eating and active lifestyles,’ says Simon Bryant, acting associate director of public health for NHS Portsmouth and Portsmouth City Council.

‘Thousands of local residents have benefited from Healthy Pompey’s wide range of activities, courses and events designed to create long-term change in attitudes and behaviour.

‘I’ve been heartened by the way the many organisations across the city have worked together to make the programme a success providing a solid base for future work in this vital area of public health.’

Although funding for Healthy Pompey has come to an end, many of the projects can continue with the support of volunteers.

Simon says: ‘The legacy of Healthy Pompey will extend well beyond this period of funding.

‘There is still a lot of work to be done to secure a healthy future for Portsmouth, but Healthy Pompey has paved the way.’


Big Picnic on Southsea Common – over 10,000 people enjoyed a day of free outdoor entertainment and healthy eating and activities.

Little Picnics – 892 people attended a series of Little Picnics at green spaces around the city last summer. At the Seaside without my Car – two events on Southsea Common in 2009 and 2010 to promote cycling and walking. Last year, 3,500 people attended the event.

Fruit Factor competition/Great South Run - competition to win places in the BUPA Great South Run (GSR). Hundreds of people of all ages took part, with 15 places being won. The Healthy Pompey team provided a range of free family activities at the GSR.

Radio advert - Healthy Pompey team toured schools to promote the Change4Life message to Year 6 pupils. Children developed their own radio advert to promote healthy living and the winning ad was produced and aired.

Easy Freezy - a campaign to encourage people to make their own healthy ready meals to freeze. There was a launch event, promotions in Asda in Fratton, community events, competitions and weekly recipes in The News.

Convenience stores five-a-day campaign - Healthy Pompey supported the Change4Life five-a-day campaign to promote fresh fruit and vegetables in local convenience stores.