THE new year marks the beginning of a new initiative for the south of the district with the launch of a project promoting wellbeing and community cohesion.

Cherwell District Council has unveiled the new healthy place shaping programme for Kidlington and the surrounding villages called K5 Better Together.

Based on the experiences of the Healthy Bicester model, K5 Better Together is designed to enable people who live or work in Kidlington, Islip, Yarnton, Begbroke and Thrupp, to enjoy healthy, happy lives where it is easy to be active, eat healthily, and be a good neighbour.

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The council held a consultation where stakeholders including businesses, community groups and school leaders were invited to offer their opinions on the project.

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing said: “K5 Better Together has been a collaborative approach from the outset. Far from being a carbon copy of the Healthy Bicester initiative, we have listened to people who live and work in Kidlington and the surrounding villages and developed a bespoke project based on the specific needs of the area.

“It was made clear to us that the programme needed to include Kidlington as well as Islip, Yarnton, Begbroke and Thrupp, hence the name, K5 Better Together. We also asked stakeholders for a steer on the logo, with the feedback developing the inspiring image which has also been revealed today.”

After community groups, charities and businesses in the area expressed their views, key priorities of the project have been identified.

These are: encouraging healthy living by being active and eating well; to promote mental wellbeing; to tackle loneliness and to increase community cohesion.

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A delivery plan has been developed, detailing ways these objectives could be achieved through improving the built environment, community activation and introducing new models of care.

Some of the plans include creating 5k health routes, improving the canal towpath for active travel and the provision of workplace wellbeing schemes to help small and medium sized businesses better support their staff.

K5 Better Together is an extension of Cherwell’s healthy place shaping programme which was established in March 2019 following the council’s commitment to continue the work of the Healthy Bicester partnership.

The project in Bicester was initially created under the NHS Healthy New Town scheme and has proved so successful by the council that Cherwell has identified healthy place shaping as a key priority for the district.

Led by A2Dominion, Elmsbrook in North West Bicester is the flagship Healthy New Town development.

In Bicester, the council has held bike courses - 'Bikeability' sessions - to encourage adults to get into cycling. Blue lines have been painted on paths in Bicester which mark out routes to walk and cycle around the town, encouraging people to be active.

By bringing in recognised experts in the field to develop the programme for Kidlington and surrounding villages, the council says it leads the way in working with local people to create healthy communities throughout Oxfordshire.

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Mr McHugh added: “We are rightly proud of the work our healthy place shaping team do to improve the lives of residents and workers in Cherwell. We have seen how effective the scheme has been in Bicester, enabling people to live happier, healthier lives and I very much look forward to watching the K5 Better Together programme develop into something unique for Kidlington and the neighbouring villages.”

Residents and workers in Kidlington and the surrounding area are being encouraged to keep up-to-date on all the latest developments of the project by following @K5BetterTogether on Facebook and @K5Better on Twitter.