PROGRESS is being made on plans to tackle physical inactivity in Blackburn with Darwen.

Earlier this year, the borough council was successful in securing funding from Sport England as part of the Pennine Lancashire pilot scheme to look at ways to encourage the 120,000 adults classed as inactive to take up some form of physical activity.

Executive member for public health and wellbeing, Cllr Damian Talbot, said: “Consultations have provided rich local information, opportunities to have different conversations and to have space to listen to and consider how those for whom inactivity is not on their radar can be better supported to improve their health and mental wellbeing.

“There is an overwhelming consensus that we already have some great stuff happening across the borough, but it’s clear that it’s not very well connected.

“Not every ward, community, partner or primary care neighbourhood will be involved from the start but learning from the small scale pilots will be shared within Blackburn with Darwen and across Pennine Lancashire to inform changes elsewhere and where there is proof of concept will be further developed into bids to secure additional resource to increase pace and / or scale of change supporting improved population health.”

Around £100 million of National Lottery funding will be invested through these projects in the 12 pilot schemes over the next 6 years until 2025, in the hopes of making it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.

By focusing in the 12 pilot areas, Sport England want to identify better ways to address inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active.

They want to encourage wider, collaborative partnerships which look at how all parts of a community can better work together to help the most inactive.

Partnerships will encompass organisations beyond the sport sector such as voluntary groups, social enterprises, faith organisations, GP federations and others.

Blackburn with Darwen, as part of Pennine Lancashire has been working in partnership with Sport England to change systems and processes and start to learn how doing things differently can change the outcomes and impact for local people.

Pennine Lancashire’s pilot is called Together an Active Future (TaAF) and has a focus on increasing levels of activity for the most inactive and for those who experience poor mental wellbeing, particularly through life events such as starting a new job, not having a job or starting a family.

Cllr Talbot added: "It's about trying to get people who are not active into sporting activities.

"We need to identify better ways to address the barriers that stop people from being active.

"A lot of this is to do with mental health issues which then impact on physical health.

"Sport England wants to see across the board working with social enterprises and community groups with things which are not necessarily thought of as sport.

"We are in the initial phases and it's a slow burn project.

"We all want to see results but because of the people we are working with, we are not going to get big improvements immediately.

"You're not going to get people who have not done any physical activity for 20 years going swimming or playing competitive sport straight away.

"We need to get people more active because it is for everyone's benefit in the long run."

Cllr John Slater said: "It's a complex problem but any money which can be used for prevention is good."

Cllr Maureen Bateson added: "The 120,000 people mentioned in the report only relates to adults - young people should not be neglected.

"It's a brilliant scheme but I don't want a third of our population to be ignored."