health improvement

Adventurous Enterprise

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Tourism has long been a cornerstone of the Scottish economy – generating £6bn in the last year. This year’s good weather and low pound are projected to boost that even further. One of the fastest growing sectors in recent years across the industry worldwide has been adventure tourism, and with Scotland’s coastline, mountains and rivers it comes as no surprise that this growth is being mirrored here.

According to HIE’s Adventure Tourism in Scotland Research Report – there were at least 350 Adventure Tourism businesses operating in Scotland in 2015. More than a third of adventure tourism businesses were located in the Highland Council area, followed by 12% in Argyll and Bute and 8% in Perth and Kinross. 84% of businesses described themselves as activity and experience providers, with the remainder identifying as activity centres and attractions.

Cross sector collaboration initiatives can play an important role in developing the adventure tourism
market. Sectors such as retail and transport benefit from the tourism industry through improved infrastructure, increased footfall and repeat custom, while accommodation providers can work in tandem with adventure tourism organisations in the area to create a better-quality tourist offer to entice visitors to the area. Collaboration between social enterprise, private business and the public sector is key to increasing the quality of tourist offer available, however more could be done between social enterprise projects and with the wider tourism industry.

The Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy aims to grow Scotland’s visitor spend by £1bn in real terms, from
£4.5bn in 2011 to £5.5bn by 2020. To achieve this, the strategy has identified three key growth markets to make up the backbone of tourism revenue by 2020;

  • Home turf:
    £3,127m in 2011
    Potential £3,586m–£4,238m in 2020
    England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales.
  • Near neighbours:
    £731m in 2011
    Potential £875m–£1,035m in 2020
    Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland,
    Netherlands, Italy.
  • Distant cousins:
    £414m in 2011
    Potential £505m–£598m in 2020
    USA, Australia, Canada.

Adventure tourism is identified as an area which offers “significant potential for growth” within the strategy. Collaboration between local businesses in rural destinations is key to developing a tourism offer which can engineer economic growth – local assets such as hill walking and cycling can be integrated with culture, local history, food and drink to create immersive tourism packages which better reflect the local area.

Want to find out more, have a look at the Senscot briefing, makes interesting reading; https://senscot.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Adventure-Tourism-Briefing.pdf

A Ticking Timebomb?

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China was the Global Nutrition Report’s star performer. It was one of only two countries (the other being South Korea) that posted levels of stunting, women’s anaemia and overweight adults that were all below indications of a very serious public health risk.

China’s numbers are staggering. In the past 10 years GDP per capita has tripled, mortality rates for the under-fives have declined from 37 per 1,000 to 14, and the percentage of the under-fives who are short for their age has declined from 22% to 9%.

But how long will China remain the star performer?

Of great concern in the future are the rapid increases in overweight and obesity in China. While the rates of overweight adults in China are less than half the rates of the UK (and the rates of obesity are about a fifth of the UK’s), the rates for children less than 20 years of age are much closer.

It is this body-mass time bomb that is the most worrying aspect of China’s nutrition status. High body-mass is a risk factor for a range of diseases such as diabetes and some forms of heart disease.

Will we see UK–level rates of obesity in these adults in China in 15 years’ time?

But it is not too late. China has the opportunity and the means to show the rest of the world how to slow and reverse the apparent tsunami of obesity. It has the opportunity because the problem is not yet unmanageable and its economy is strong. This generates policy possibilities. It has the means, because of the strong ability of the state to shape the environment to make healthy choices easier and more likely.

And make no mistake about it  the world needs China to succeed. Obese people tend to consume more of the types of foods that have a higher carbon footprint such as meat, sugar and dairy. There are diets  vegetarian, Mediterranean and pescetarian for example  that are healthier for the planet and for humans. China needs to draw on traditional eating habits and move towards its own 21st century version of a healthier diet  we all have a stake in that.

 

The 100-Mile Diet.

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Following our look at whether local food is “better,” read about a Canadian couple who experimented with this approach….

When Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon learned that the average ingredient in a North American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate, they decided to launch a simple experiment to reconnect with the people and places that produced what they ate. For one year, they would only consume food that came from within a 100-mile radius of their Vancouver apartment. The 100-Mile Diet was born.

The concept of the 100-mile diet forces a mental shift from eating globally to think more locally to ensure everything you eat is within a 100 mile radius of your table. Though going cold turkey into eating within such a restricted geographical region may not be for everyone you can start with a single family meal. This forces you to research and explore what’s actually grown close to your home and you’ll begin to appreciate not only the bounty of your local region, but the major implications of eating foods from around the world.

Choosing to consume food that is produced within 100 miles of your home comes with all of the benefits of local, seasonal eating: more flavourful foods, smaller environmental footprint, better health, and support for local farmers.

Alisa and James admit that finding local food sources took a lot of time.  Very little in a supermarket can be traced to where all the ingredients come from and many of the products contain oils, sugar or seasonings that have travelled vast distances.  So they set about finding just who did produce food in the Vancouver area. Unsurprisingly, one of the biggest challenges was finding carbohydrates during the ‘hungry gap’ before the new season’s harvest began – rice, pasta and bread were all unavailable leaving only potatoes.  Between them they lost 15 pounds in six weeks and were forced to loosen the rules slightly to include locally milled flour from grain that at least came from Canada. Summertime made life a little easier, with plentiful Farmer’s Markets a wealth of local foods. This did lead to its own problems though – many hours spent preserving foods for the long Canadian winter.

Is the 100 mile diet one that is realistic for your average person leading a busy life?  No, but it was never intended to be.  Alisa and James set themselves a high challenge to discover what the real issues with local food sourcing were.  In the process they did much more, attracting a world-wide audience and making a bold political statement.  This has led some people to label local food as the ‘new organic’ – something that seems to be at odds with the founder’s values which were very much attuned to sustainable organic food production.  However, local food sourcing is deservedly gaining attention and the 100 mile diet certainly struck a chord with many who believe in sustainable production.

“You don’t have to have a sea view”

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Researchers have found that the closer people live to the sea, the healthier they tend to be.

However, it is not just those who live in rural seaside areas that benefit.

The biggest effect is actually felt by people living in coastal cities like Newcastle and Southampton, compared to inland ones like Birmingham and Leeds.

It was not sure how much of the benefit  had to do with salty air.

It’s thought that it could be that the sea had a calming influence on people, or that those who lived near it had an added incentive to get out and about.

Information from the 2001 census  compared the health of people in England living near the sea and far away, both in rural and urban areas.

In the census respondents were required to rate their health as ‘good’, ‘fairly good’, or ‘not good’. Nationwide, just over two-thirds (69 per cent) rated it as ‘good’.

However, those living within three miles (5km) of the coast were slightly more likely to rate their health highly, compared to those living more than 30 miles (50km) inland.

The effect extended to those living in the band 12 to 30 miles (20-50km) from the sea, although less strongly.

Researchers concluded “You don’t have to have a sea view to benefit.”

The results suggested what was important was how often people got to the coast, and how woven it was into their lives.

The study, published in the journal Health and Place, took account of variations in age and wealth between different areas’ populations.

It showed living by the sea most benefits poorer, city-dwelling people – those who, nationally, suffer the worst health and do the least exercise.

Good news for those of us lucky enough to live by the beautiful Aberdeenshire coastline. But even if you don’t, added incentive to go out and make the most of it!

Thank you for your support to end child poverty

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If you haven’t already seen them, have a look at these animations. Talented students from the London College of Communication interpreted children’s experiences of poverty and made some very powerful short films. They show clearly why we’re needed, and why your support is so important.

Child Poverty Action Group

Are social media companies ‘failing young people’ on cyberbullying?

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Social media companies’ failure to tackle cyberbullying is putting the mental health of children and young people at risk, warns an inquiry from MPs and leading children’s charities.

Worryingly for parents, almost two thirds of (63%) of young people surveyed by the enquiry who had been cyberbullied said that they would not tell their parents if they experienced something upsetting online.

So, what can we do about it?

Cyberbullying takes many forms; persistent unwanted messaging, threats, sharing embarrassing photos. The report highlights the addictive nature of social media: one in ten (9%) young people surveyed admitted logging on after midnight every night and one young person said it was “almost like a drug”. Young people giving evidence to the inquiry described feeling judged and inadequate if they didn’t have enough likes or followers.

Young people who are the heaviest users of social media in all its forms are most likely to have low well-being and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Links between self-harm, suicide and cyberbullying have already been established by academics. Currently there are no rules requiring social media to protect young people from cyberbullying.

There are calls for social media companies and government to act, working together to resolve these issues. Parents have a role to play, raising awareness of online dangers and knowing what/who children are connecting with online. Perhaps most importantly knowing there are many ways of getting help to get the cyber bullying to stop. The following links can help;

respectme, support for Services

Childline telephone support for children and young people.

A National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People

Parentline a national, confidential helpline providing advice for parents

Cyberbullying – Safe to Learn: Embedding anti-bullying work in schools.

Advice for parents on bullying

Youth Loneliness

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You’re not supposed to feel lonely while you’re young, but the truth is it’s a bigger concern among young people than any other age group.

In recent years youth loneliness and isolation has been increasingly identified as a matter of significant public concern. Research identifies that one in three young people suffer from loneliness (Red Cross, Co-op, Kantar, 2016) and 65% of 16-25 years old reporting feeling loneliness at times and 32% feeling lonely “often” or “all the time” (Majoribanks and Bradley, 2017).

“Loneliness is a recognised problem among the elderly – there are day centres and charities to help them,” says Sam Challis, an information manager at the mental health charity Mind, “but when young people reach 21 they’re too old for youth services.”

But what can young people do to combat loneliness? 

While meditation techniques such as mindfulness and apps such as Headspace are trendy solutions frequently recommended for a range of mental health problems, they’re not necessarily helpful for loneliness, as they actively encourage us to dwell alone on our thoughts. You’re be better off addressing the underlying causes of being lonely first – what’s stopping you going out and seeing people?

Social media can be helpful. Helplines can also reduce loneliness, at least in the short term. One in four men who call the Samaritans mention loneliness or isolation, and Get Connected is a free confidential helpline for young people, where they can seek help with emotional and mental health issues often linked to loneliness. There are also support services on websites such as Mind’s that can remind you you’re not alone. Speak to your employer, value the interactions you have in the workplace. Counselling can be helpful. The BACP website allows you to search for counsellors in your area. “A problem aired is a problem shared and sometimes you need to talk to someone impartial and independent of your friends and family.

If recent research is to be believed, loneliness is killing the elderly and, with an ageing population, we should aim to reduce our isolation before it is too late. “Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting lonelier,” says Ruth Sutherland, the chief executive of Relate, in a new report. “But much of this rests on laying the foundations to good-quality relationships earlier in life.”