Health & well-being

The transfer of public health from the NHS to local government and Public Health England (PHE) was one of the most significant extensions of local government powers and duties in a generation. It represented a unique opportunity to change the focus from treating sickness to actively promoting health and well-being. 

In recognition of the vital role culture and leisure play in improving the health and wellbeing of local communities, cCLOA have published a guidance document that aims to help commissioners and providers of culture and leisure services in England understand and engage more effectively and collaboratively with this key agenda.

The guidance aims to improve understanding about the structures, frameworks and outcomes relating to public health and has been welcomed by Public Health England, National Institute of Clinical Excellence, LGA, Sport & Recreation Alliance, Arts Council England, Sport England and CIMSPA.  You can read their supportive statements here.

cCLOA believes that proactively responding to this agenda provides an opportunity for the sector to position itself as a key part of the solution and Iain Varah, Chair of cCLOA said

“Our document highlights the importance of collaborating on the health and wellbeing agenda and is the starting point to further reposition leisure and culture in the current financial local government climate. To achieve this, local authorities will need to work closely with their leisure and culture providers, voluntary groups and organisations to support and enable them to welcome people with the poorest chances of good health outcomes.  For some authorities this will mean repositioning their cultural services so that they become more focused and better targeted.  Local authority leisure and cultural services were born out of the 1875 Public Health Act; Victoria Park Hackney, which opened in 1845, and was a direct result of public health concerns and sanitary conditions, as was the first Public baths in 1842 in Fredrick Street Liverpool.  Improving health and wellbeing is a global problem, but it has local solutions and is now back in the responsible hands of local authorities.  We hope this document acts as a mandate for shared action.”

Download The role of culture and leisure in improving health and wellbeing.

We have also developed a self-assessment to enable you identify what stage you are at and to help you plan your approach.

The role of culture & leisure in improving health & well-being - self-assessment for practitioners

As part of this work we have gathered a series of case studies to highlight how culture and sport can help to tackle unhealthy lifestyles, address the social determinants of health, offer cost effective approaches, bring creative solutions and engage communities, families and individuals in managing their well-being. 

Many thanks to those of you who have submitted the good practice examples below, which demonstrate the role of culture in creating healthier and happier communities, through strong local partnerships between organisations, sectors and tiers of local authority. 

Active for Life - 60+ free leisure offer in Barking & Dagenham

Arts at the HeART of wellbeing in Erewash

Arts for Health in Blackpool

Arts create a welcoming sanctuary within a hospital

A Dance A Day - Dorset over 50's dance project

Culture and Heritage in partnership with Personalisation

Dales Challenge for individuals with severe mental health illness

dance 4 your life - North Kent

Dance 123 – Improving positive body image & reducing eating disorders amongst children and young people

Exercise after stroke programme - Blackburn

Exercise Referral - Cambridge City Council

Exercise on Referral Activators - Wakefield

Forever Active – 50+ scheme in Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire

North Norfolk mental well-being impact assessment 

Physical Activity Champions - Team Wakefield

Push 4 Fitness - Ashfield

Start – tackling childhood obesity in Kirklees

Steps for Life - Exercise Referral for people in Kirklees living with early onset dementia

The Smoothie Bike Project - Suffolk Libraries

Over the coming months we plan to continue building this resource; so if you have a case study you would like to share please complete this downloadable template and return to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.