Guest Blog: Final reflections from the Healthier Place, Healthier Future Trailblazer Programme

Guest Blog: Final reflections from the Healthier Place, Healthier Future Trailblazer Programme

In the final guest blog from the Healthier Place, Healthier Future Trailblazer Programme, we hear from the HPHF Programme Lead and Public Health Specialist Beth Wolfenden to reflect back on the last three years, exploring some of the biggest challenges the programme has faced and discussing what has been some of the key learnings to take from the whole experience. 

Wow what a three years that has whizzed by in a flash!  We have had some of the most challenging times as public health and wider Council teams during the Trailblazer delivery and none of us could have ever predicted it.  However it has been a most rewarding, productive and heart-warming three years despite all the challenges we have faced.  I thought it would be good to share some final reflections as we say goodbye to the official DHSC funded Trailblazer….

I’d like to start by reflecting on some of the key achievements and in particular our approach to System’s working, and the many great partnerships and collaborations we have built. The trailblazer has also provided a fantastic opportunity to work with other large programmes such as Together an Active Future to maximise our efforts. The trailblazer is truly reflective of how much we can get done once we collaborate – funding doesn’t necessarily need to be a barrier.

It’s been a great pleasure to work with key Elected Members in supporting the development of their knowledge and their unique role as ‘Champions’ in their districts and local communities. We have found through the programme that Elected Members are really keen to be involved and they are the ones that can really drive this agenda.

Other significant achievements thanks to the collaboration both within and across districts, include the development of a Health and Well-being Strategy for Rossendale, adoption of the Healthy Weight Declaration in Pendle, a Planning for Health Supplementary Planning Document for Burnley all whilst continuing delivery during COVID, and a R4H revamp and relaunch!

That’s not to say the last three years hasn’t brought its challenges, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that COVID has had in terms of officer and member capacity within the districts. However COVID has brough to the fore, in particular for members, the importance of health and well-being in protecting local communities, resulting in our Elected Member COVID 19 briefing series. Additional disruptions due to the lack of face-to-face engagement during periods of the pandemic, also slowed progress on some elements of the business engagement and work with communities in developing our #GetsHangry Campaigns. Yet we have still had some fantastic opportunities to inspire young people to challenge the food system.

The original vision for the Pennine Lancashire Trailblazer was to implement a coordinated, systems approach to tackling childhood obesity which also brought its unique challenges; we knew this would be complex due to the geographical and political landscape, in addition to addressing four levers for change. I think its fair to acknowledge that we tried to achieve a lot with a little! And the Test and Learn approach gave us the space to do this.

The trailblazer programme has certainly brought the issue of childhood obesity into focus and shines a light on the issue. Stakeholders recognise that we cannot treat our way out of the increasing prevalence, reducing overweight and obesity will require a continued and sustained whole system approach. There are opportunities going forward to sustain the good practice and in particular the learning generated from the business engagement lever as Lancashire County Council re-launch the Recipe for Health Scheme across Lancashire. The Healthy Weight Declaration is also an important mechanism to ensure that healthy weight remains a key priority in districts and this will be a continued focus.

So for the future…this work will not end with the end of the DHSC funded programme…….we will continue to build on the partnerships made and strive for a healthy weight for all from preconception and on throughout the life course.

Beth Wolfenden
Public Health Specialist
Blackburn with Darwen Council

Print this article


Find out more about the Food Active team and the Food Active Network

What we Do

Find out more about our programme of work and our priorities

Policy Change

Explore our work on influencing policy both locally and nationally


Discover our range of campaigns to promote behaviour change


Find out more about our research to understand and explore the food environment


Get up to speed with our past conferences and events programme