Hearty Lives Liverpool, a three year programme launched in July 2013 was delivered by the Health Equalities Group in collaboration with Liverpool City Council and other local partners including Liverpool Community Health, Everton in the Community and Merseyside Youth Association.
The British Heart Foundation and Liverpool City Council funded the programme that aimed to work with Children in Care aged 11-17 and their carers (foster carers, kinship carers and residential social workers) to devise the most effective methods of supporting healthier lifestyles through the provision of health information, training and support in relation to healthy eating and physical activity.
The objectives included:
- To ensure children and young people in care have the skills and knowledge to make informed choices about their dietary habits
- To provide training for children and young people in care in food preparation, buying food on a limited budget and assisting them into independent living
- To support children and young people in care taking more physical activity as part of their regular lifestyles
Prioritising healthy eating and regular exercise, the project has delivered a number of interventions, including food growing workshops, practical cooking sessions, bike rides, family events and other bespoke trainings, reaching more than 300 carers and young people.
The activities have provided hands on education for children and carers to cook healthy meals and try new foods, as well as helping families to eat well on a budget, giving advice on the importance of eating together as a family and supporting them to take part in physical activities.
The Hearty Lives Liverpool programme has also developed sustainable ‘Food in Care’ initiative composed of a bespoke Food in Care training and digital Food in Care toolkit, providing a detailed insight into the needs of Children in Care, and a comprehensive understanding of practical tools and ideas that carers and other professionals can use in everyday situations when providing child care.
The Hearty Lives programme has already made a significant difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the city of Liverpool by making them and their families aware of the benefits of healthy eating and physical activity, and in turn reducing the risk of future health problems among children, young people and carers.
Liverpool foster carer, who attended Hearty Lives sessions said:
“The training sessions I had the chance to attend have inspired me to go away and keep learning, make changes and educate others. I look carefully at labels when I am shopping and make better choices and have bought lots of new healthy cooking books and equipment. The course has provided me with the time to stop, reflect and think about the importance of the psychology of food – the whole aspects including the behaviours and the routine. I’ve gained knowledge that I can go on and share with young people and I have a better understanding of the link between food, body, behaviour and emotions.”
A lifestyle survey of young people in care in Liverpool and their carers was conducted at the start of the programme. Copy of that report, and copies of other documents produced during the project’s delivery can be found and downloaded from the links below.