Rochdale Public Health goes SUGAR SMART inside and out

Rochdale’s Public Health team are not just rolling out the SUGAR SMART messaging across their borough, they’re living it themselves.

Credit: Ruth Bardsley 2019

Credit: Ruth Bardsley 2019

Rochdale Public Health team runs their local SUGAR SMART campaign, but they're not just encouraging other people to go SUGAR SMART. They're making the changes within their own workplace. They feature the SUGAR SMART campaign on their intranet wellbeing page, challenge the team to the SUGAR SMART quiz annually at their away day and encourage everyone to drink more tap water with stickers reminding them that it’s filtered and free.

They're also starting to look at the food across the council. The council café is run by an external supplier but after some fruitful discussions with the café manager about the SUGAR SMART campaign, they’ve got involved too and upped their healthy food. They’ve reduced the number of soft drinks available, and replaced them with healthier drinks and fresh fruit. And, as well as introducing a wide range of fresh vegetable rice boxes, they’ve brought in deals to encourage healthier choices, so when you buy a coffee, you get a free banana.

Next the public health team set their sights on water by installing a water fountain in the council building. Impressively, they did this by doing a deal with the construction company, Willmott Dixon, who are working in the local area. In exchange for rolling out a healthy workplace service across Wilmott Dixon’s construction site, the company has committed to pay for the fountain unit and installation. Now that the council have got their water fountain, they've held their end of the bargain and sent the council's healthy workplace team and health trainers to the construction site to deliver workshops on subjects like diabetes and SUGAR SMART as well as carrying out blood tests and checking blood pressure of Willmott Dixon staff.

They’ve even found ways to start cracking the cake culture. At the annual Charity Baking Fundraiser last year, they asked participants to use Change4Life’s low sugar pudding recipes instead of sugary recipes. While they admit this change was met with a bit of resistance, it hasn't put them off and healthier cakes will continue to be warmly encouraged at future bake sales.

Our staff wellbeing programme is in development and is being driven by our staff. There is clearly a desire to be healthier at work, including opportunities to improve water drinking and reduce sugary options. SUGAR SMART was an obvious choice to help us achieve this. Their suggestions on simple changes are great and the online portal means we can keep track of our progress.

Kuiama Thompson, Consultant in Public Health at Rochdale Borough Council

SUGAR SMART is a campaign run by Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming. SUGAR SMART is one of the featured campaigns in the UK's Sustainable Food Cities Network.

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