‘Gym For Free’ scheme: Birmingham

“Most public health programmes focus on small groups of people – I wanted to do something population-wide,” says Kevin Haywood, head of public health programmes at the Heart of Birmingham Primary Care Trust. “So I contacted the city council and suggested doing something for the whole of [the parliamentary constituency of] Ladywood, and they bought into the idea, saying ‘Let’s do it.’ ”

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Maximising social capital

During a recession, areas should look towards their strengths to help them survive.

In which case, should we revisit ‘social capital’, a term that was frequently used until a few years ago and which is greater in rural areas than urban ones?

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Saving rural pubs

How much are you prepared to pay for a pint, and do you think village pubs are an essential part of rural life?

Changing social habits mean beers sales and the number of village pubs have been declining for decades. But now things are particularly bad. The costs of raw materials have increased. So too has duty, which is set to increase further.

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Family Intervention Projects

During the last two decades, members of the Walker family, in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, had been causing trouble for their neighbours, the council, the police and local schools. But because the issues were dealt with by separate agencies, nobody fully appreciated the cumulative impact the family was having.

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Intergenerational working

Studley, in Warwickshire, is a village that on the surface has no shortage of facilities for young people; there are sports clubs, youth clubs and a leisure centre. But many local teenagers complained that the prices were too high, leaving them with little choice but to hang around the streets. Until recently, many villagers regarded them as typical of modern youngsters: hanging around and probably using bad language and being disruptive. But all that changed when a new project, pioneered by Stratford-on-Avon district council, attempted to bridge the generation gap between young and old.

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Kinship care

Many grandparents these days find themselves bringing up grandchildren – but financial help from councils is hard to come by Robert Bullard The Guardian, Wednesday April 2 2008

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