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londoners angry about grants to make them happier

I read yesterday in London Lite that £14 million from the National Lottery has been awarded to two projects with the aim of making London a happier place.

Today in London Lite the letters page is full of outrage:

“why don’t they just make a big bonfire out of the notes? Same effect”

“what a stupid idea. Why do they think that wasting more and more money on things like this is a good idea. Londoners are miserable – no amount of cash will make them smile!”

“what a way to waste money. Throwing cash at this initiative is about as worthwhile as flushing it down the toilet. People aren’t suddenly going to be happy because someone shows them how to plant vegetables, it’s much deeper than that.”

I’m guessing that the last correspondent never saw Making Slough Happy or read any of psychologist Dr Richard Stevens’ research. One of the ten steps to happiness listed in the programme was “plant something and nurture it”.

The two schemes are Well London and Active 8 London, run by the Peabody Trust, a charitable housing association.

Well London projects include:

  • schemes to make it easier to buy quality, cheap, local food
  • cook and eat clubs to increase rates of healthy eating
  • training local people with direct experience of mental ill health to deliver mental health awareness training
  • using the arts and cultural activity to improve environments and provide accessible physical activities
  • increasing physical activity levels through increasing the range of sports and active recreation activities available to the community

Active 8 London plans to set up:

  • food days to broaden people’s understanding of nutrition
  • gardening schemes to show high-rise residents how to grow their own vegetables
  • a week of events and workshops that will address common mental health problems
  • the Fifty-Five Alive Club that will lead social activities for older people
  • a project that will provide exercise sessions and advice in women only environments
  • Pukka Tukka, which is a project to encourage single men off takeaways and processed foods and show them how to make healthy, fresh meals on a budget

So you can see why the correspondents are so disgruntled. Projects to encourage us to eat better and exercise more, what a terrible waste of money. After all £14 million does seem like a lot of money.

Amongst the information to support Well London’s bid is the fact that “ten per cent of people over the age of 65 are malnourished and account for approximately half of the £7.3 billion per year that malnutrition costs the UK.” Which isn’t the sort of information that London Lite has room for.

£7.3 billion? Now, that is a lot of money.

Written by Karen

July 19th, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Posted in cities,food,psychology