Kirkham’s Heritage Health and Wellbeing Programme celebrated at London conference

A ground-breaking programme to improve the health and well-being of residents in a Fylde town has been celebrated on the national stage.

By Tony Durkin
Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 1:21 pm

Kirkham’s Heritage Health and Wellbeing Programme, led by Fylde Council, is a key part of the £10m Kirkham Futures regeneration masterplan designed to reinvigorate the historic town centre by bringing important buildings back into use, improving streets and open spaces as well as boosting residents’ health.

A Social Prescribing Programme was launched in November as part of Kirkham’s status as one of Historic England’s High Streets Heritage Action Zones.

History trail walks, art and cooking classes, horticultural workshops and gentle exercise sessions have been organised to help local people living with various health conditions as well as increase community inclusion.

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Helen Shearn addresses the London conference

The free classes – many of which use Kirkham’s history dating back to Roman times as their inspiration – have proved to be so successful the programme has now been extended to the end of this year and he programme has been heralded a triumph at the annual National Academy for Social Prescribing show held at London’s Southbank Centre.

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Heritage activities aim to improve wellbeing of Kirkham townsfolk

Helen Shearn, a specialist consultant in arts, heritage and health and wellbeing, delivered a presentation about how the Kirkham programme was developed and how it was making a positive difference in the town.

The presentation was entitled ‘Kirkham: Forging a Heritage Programme as a Bridge to Wellbeing’ and Helen said: “It was a great honour to champion the work we have been developing in Kirkham at such a prestigious conference attended by national and international speakers.

Kirkham residents get creative at a community art class organised by Phoenix Rising. From left: Rachel Day, artist Danielle Chappell and Jean Howarth.

“It feels like Kirkham has been put on the map in the growing area around heritage, health wellbeing and social prescribing. Not only was our work highlighted at the Southbank Centre but on the front cover of Historic England’s latest research journal which contained a full feature on the programme and its goals and aspirations.”

Kirkham’s ‘Heritage Health and Wellbeing Programme’ has been devised by Fylde Council in collaboration with Helen Shearn Associates, Historic England, Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Lancashire County Council and Wyre Rural Extended Neighbourhood (WREN) Primary Care Network, which includes Kirkham's two GP practices.

Dr Linda Monckton, Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy at Historic England, said: “Historic England believes that everyone can experience the wellbeing benefits of heritage. It’s marvellous to see Kirkham get national recognition for its success in embracing the potential of the town’s High Street Heritage Action Zone to boost physical and mental health for members of the local community.”

Following the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, a key objective of the Kirkham programme is to get people out and about, interacting with each other in or around the high street, under an umbrella of historical, community-based activities aimed at improving physical and mental well-being and reducing isolation.

The classes can be accessed by either booking online, in person at Kirkham Library or by being referred by a GP or NHS link worker. Full details of the classes, including dates, times and how to book are available here

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