THE success of pioneering efforts to help promote healthy eating among families living in some of Wirral’s most disadvantaged areas has helped the local authority scoop a major national award.

Wirral Council unanimously won the support of the three judges over seven other finalists in the ‘Trading Standards and Environmental Health’ category at the Municipal Journal Awards, which were presented in London last week.

The honour is a reward for those behind the ‘Takeaway for a Change’ and ‘Eat Well Wirral’ campaigns, which are part of Wirral’s commitment to reducing the health inequalities between the most deprived and most affluent areas of the borough.

Eat Well Wirral and Takeaway for a Change have been growing hand in hand over the last couple of years.

Thanks to funding from Public Health, officers initially ran a pilot of the schemes in Rock Ferry, which involved engaging with a primary school, children’s centre and takeaways located in the heart of the community.  

Officers, supported by nutritionists and health care professionals, provided educational and support sessions for families and children, advising, supporting and guiding them to make healthy meal choices and opt for healthier options when in the supermarket or eating fast food.

Local takeaway owners were given grants and supported to change cooking practices and ingredients to make their offer healthier, the new meals were then tried and enjoyed by the local community thanks to vouchers offering them ‘free healthier meals’.

The pilot was a success and Wirral Council was invited to share their work at the Annual Public Health Conference in 2014.

An application for further grant funding was approved earlier in the year which will enable the projects to expand to more schools across the borough over the next two years.

Cllr Bernie Mooney, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, praised the hard work of the team who delivered the projects, particularly Nicola Pulford who was the lead officer who designed and implemented the original pilot work.

She said: “This award is a fantastic achievement and well deserved in recognition of their hard work.

“The success of the pilot project will be our platform to roll these initiatives out to other areas of the borough where child and adult obesity is a community issue we are concerned about.

“As a council, we know we must invest in long term projects like this to deliver sustainable long term health benefits for our most deprived communities.” 

The awards were presented by former Foreign Secretary, William Hague.