Hearty Lives Bristol

People cycling in bristol

BHF-funded research by the University of Bristol found that diverse interests, busy family lives and bad weather are preventing families from being active together.

Working in partnership with NHS Bristol and Bristol City Council, we invested £100,000 in helping children’s centres throughout the city to encourage families to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The project ended in 2012

Our aim

Young children and their parents in Bristol were encouraged to be more active and eat healthily through:

  • training children centre staff to provide free family activity classes
  • helping to develop active travel options to encourage families to walk and cycle  
  • providing free healthy cooking classes including a number of themed classes, such as Christmas meals or cooking South Asian food.

What we achieved

Hearty Lives funding first provided Bristol with a health promotion specialist for early years.  However, NHS Bristol soon secured permanent funding for the post, meaning that the Hearty Lives funding could be used to develop resources and training.

The training included:


This scheme gave parents skills training in cookery. A total of 61 people participated in five different Children’s Centres’ in areas of greatest need in the city.

Food for Thought

This was a cookery pilot specifically for child minders. The sessions aimed to promote an awareness of healthy nutrition for children, provide practical ideas for child-minders and encourage the involvement of children in food preparation.

Get up and Go

The project involved a series of physical activity workshops to improve the knowledge, skills and confidence of two separate cohorts of early years’ practitioners in Bristol.


At the end of the project, there had been a small decline in the proportion of pupils that were obese or overweight. However, it is too soon to tell whether this was a direct result of the project.

The Hearty Lives Bristol project initially planned to target only 10 Children’s Centres. In the end, the project's reach extended to include all early years’ settings in Bristol.

The training and resources developed are now widely available. In addition the project has contributed to the development of local guidelines for children aged 0-5, helping ensure that Early years teams in Bristol continue to promote good nutrition and increase physical activity in years to come.

More info

For more information about Hearty Lives Bristol please contact Area Development Manager Sue Pritchard on [email protected].