I was sorry to miss the annual autumn clear up at Stansfield Village Hall this year but saw at a glance on my latest visit just what great efforts had been made in chopping down vegetation, hacking and clearing the undergrowth and opening up the entrance to make it safer.

All the parishes in this area are very good at keeping their churchyards and open spaces under control. These community activities don’t just make our villages look better but are good for our own health and well-being too.

I can vouch for the feel good effect of being part of a team making a difference. After a very fraught week, I spent a therapeutic couple of hours in Clare Country Park with a working party last weekend scraping ivy off the face of the old railway platforms – while avoiding damaging some very rare ferns.

Suffolk’s Public Health team has just announced there is a new grant available aimed at encouraging people to get active and enjoy Suffolk’s natural environment.

‘Getting Suffolk Moving’ is a £100,000 pot to which the county’s voluntary groups and community organisations can apply to fund projects to promote walking, gardening, volunteering and anything else that boosts physical activity in the outdoors.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. An estimated 50% of Suffolk people do no or very little active recreation, which can have costs to personal health and the county’s health services alike.

The shocking costs of physical inactivity in Suffolk are

  • The health cost of physical inactivity in Suffolk is over £14 million per year;

  • 24.3% of adults and 15.7% of year 6 children in Suffolk are obese;

  • An older person remaining active in Suffolk and independent at home defers £11,500 per year from social care costs;

  • Reducing falls in Suffolk by 10% would realise £2million in savings annually;

  • Physical activity reduces the risk of mental disorders including depression, cognitive decline and dementia and improves self-perception of mental well-being, increases self-esteem, lowers likelihood of sleep disorders and enables a better ability to cope with stress;

My colleague, Councillor Alan Murray, a retired vascular surgeon and Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for health and adult care, says that regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health, reducing your risk of disease in later life, controlling your weight and even contributing to positive mental health.

The fund has been set up to prompt a range of projects to get people more active while enjoying the wonderful outdoors, wherever they live in Suffolk – whether it is waking or rediscovering cycling, or whatever. The grant is primarily aimed at voluntary organisations and community groups. It is being administered by Suffolk Community Foundation, which has a strong track record for managing funds to benefit communities.

Each bid must consider the following:

Projects that increase everyday opportunities to be active, without the need to purchase specialist equipment or join a club;

  • Initiatives that remove barriers to participation so that everyone can get involved;

  • Ideas that can be adopted and work elsewhere in the county;

  • Projects that have long-term benefits and can be sustained.

The scheme is open to bids of up to £5,000, but larger amounts may be considered where projects can demonstrate exceptional contributions to increase daily activity.

Applications can be made online at

So go on, get moving and grab some of the grant for your community!