09 Apr 2019 The Healthy Weight Declaration – Sharing the Learning: Kirklees Council
In this article, we hear from colleagues at Kirklees Council to find out some of the key learning and experiences that led to the official adoption of the Local Government Declaration in March 2019, as part of the advocacy project for the Healthy Weight and Physical Activity Community of Improvement, commissioned by Yorkshire and Humber Association for the Directors of Public Health.
Abi Mackenzie works within Public Health Improvement at Kirklees Council, working within the Starting Well theme, on projects including Whole Systems Obesity and Nurturing Parents. Priti Gohil is a Advanced Health Improvement Practitioner working within the Wider Factors theme on projects including Workplace Health and Wellbeing, Sustainable Transport and Whole Systems Obesity.
Our journey with Food Active began last summer, following the adoption and prioritisation of a whole system approach to tackling obesity by the Kirklees Public Health team. Taking learning and evidence from other areas around implementing whole systems, the Healthy Weight Declaration was tabled as a route which aligned well with local obesity strategy and acknowledged the need to create environments that enable healthy behaviours – making healthy choices, the easy choices.
Following contact with the Food Active Team, Public Health undertook a process of stakeholder engagement with senior leaders both inside and outside of the council, local councillors, including the portfolio lead for Health and Wellbeing and the Chief Executive of Kirklees Council, in order to help shape our local commitments for the declaration. These were then taken to senior forums in the Council and the Health and Wellbeing Board for approval.
Planning then began for an engagement and awareness cross sector event to include key partners such as CCGs, Thriving Kirklees (Healthy Child Programme), Kirklees Active Leisure, local businesses, third sector leaders and services within the authority such as planning, parks, and schools. Taking learning from whole system strategies, it was essential that the event achieved wide engagement to enable an effective collaborative partnership approach across all sectors within Kirklees.
We also made a regional link with Leeds City Council, who provided valuable insight into the process they had undertaken to implement their Healthy Weight Declaration. They were able to share some useful learning from the consultation they had carried out with council staff, and also the need to engage with community groups in order to ensure their view and insight are considered as they are integral to making the declaration happen on a local level. We were also pleased to be invited to attend their launch event in February.
Our Kirklees event was held on 18th March with over 70 delegates from a wide range of organisations attending. Jacqui Gedman, Kirklees Council Chief Executive welcomed guests and pledged her ongoing commitment to supporting the declaration.
Overall, the event was positively received and our commitments will be progressed through the formalisation of a local strategy group who will oversee further engagement and support the work across the district to ensure a system wide approach continues to be applied from policy to practice and that our collective effort starts to see a reduction in obesity at scale.