30th April 2018
A two year Health for Life activity programme at the Countess of Chester Country Park has been hailed a great success by project funders and the park’s owners, the Land Trust, after seeing huge improvements in participant’s physical and mental well-being.
The £70,000 programme, which was funded by the Cheshire Wirral Partnership NHS Trust, The Big Lottery, The Mersey Forest and Cheshire West and Chester Council, saw nearly 700 different events and sessions organised at the park for the public and NHS staff from the nearby hospital.
These activities ranged from Nordic Walking and hedge-laying to buggy walks and a popular weekly park run, which attracts more than 300 runners every Saturday morning.
Working with the Natural Health Service Centre of Excellence, which includes both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, the activities were academically evaluated. This measured their health and wellbeing at the start and end of an 8 -12 week programme.
In virtually all cases, people reported spending more time outdoors and feeling healthier and happier as a result. There was a dramatic reduction in the time participants spent sitting each day, with a corresponding leap in vigorous physical exercise of nearly 60 per cent.
The country park opened in September 2014 on the site of scrubland and a former landfill site and since then has become a haven for wildlife and a popular, free, green leisure space used by thousands of local residents.
Alan Carter, Land Trust portfolio director, said:
“The Countess of Chester Country Park is a major success story. Thanks to our funders and the dedication of our enthusiastic rangers and volunteers, the Health for Life programme has resulted in hundreds of people enjoying the fantastic new green space on their doorstep.
“Creating more opportunities for people to enjoy the big outdoors chimes perfectly with the Government’s recent 25 Year Environment Plan and Northern Forest aspirations. We know people feel happier and healthier when they’re outside, enjoying the countryside.”
Sheena Cumiskey, Chief Executive at Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP), said:
“We’re delighted that the Health for Life project is going from strength to strength and I’d like to thank everyone for working so hard to make it such a success.
“The Countess of Chester Country Park is a wonderful asset to our community and I’m so pleased that it continues to bring joy to people accessing our services, their carers and families, and of course our fantastic staff.”
Tony Chambers, Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, said:
“We have supported the park from its inception and I’ve been delighted to see the benefits that this project has brought to the hospital community”
Margot Murphy, who signed up for volunteer activities at the site just two days into her retirement in January 2016, added:
“Getting involved with practical conservation activities such as hedge laying and tree planting has helped me in so many ways. I’ve learnt new skills, improving my fitness levels while at the same time breathing in the fresh air, enjoying working outdoors having spent the last 30 years office bound.
“The location at the Countess of Chester Country Park is fantastic, but what makes it particularly enjoyable are the people, those who volunteer, and especially the organisers at TCV, who make everyone welcome.”
It is a privilege to work for an organisation that puts communities at the heart of its work. The knowledge that I am helping to provide a better environment, especially in areas where open green space is in short supply, is what motivates and inspires me.
Victoria Webbon, Estates Officer
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