Healthy lifestyles: views from Tower Hamlets communities

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Community views on healthy lifestyles

Part of Tower Hamlets Healthy Borough Programme, this participatory research project involved the training of 35 parents to gain the perspective of families and children on the barriers and solutions to active lifestyles and healthy diets in the Borough.

Project aims

The principal aims of the project were to:

  • increase and enhance the skills of parents involved in the project.
  • provide significant learning experiences for participants so they might be resourced and empowered to impact positively on the health of their communities.
  • support participants to engage Tower Hamlets communities on the themes of healthy eating and active lifestyles. To identify barriers and solutions, and provide appropriate ways of addressing the problem of children obesity and related problems.
Research findings

Research findings included:

  • Widespread awareness of what constitutes healthy eating, availability of healthy foods and food preparation.
  • Concern about the attractiveness and availability of cheap, unhealthy, fast-food.
  • Widespread awareness of the importance of physical activity and its impact on health, as well as enthusiastic support for particular activities available in the Borough such as gender specific sport and exercise (cycling and swimming).
  • Concern about the lack of safe and affordable community sports facilities and green spaces in some parts of the Borough.
  • Concern about the negative impact of poor mental health, isolation and stress on motivation to lead healthy lifestyles.
Project impacts and legacy

Feedback from participants indicates that the project has:

  • increased their confidence and improve communication skills
  • enabled learning of new skills and knowledge, including formal accreditation
  • forged new friendship and social ties

This project was the first of our participatory research projects in Tower Hamlets and from this the ‘Small Change’ group was formed of parents who wanted to make small changes for not much money that would make a difference to their lives.  Some of the members are still involved in community research projects, while others have gone on from this experience to gain employment and other opportunities.

The full report can be accessed here.