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About Thrive Plymouth

What is Thrive Plymouth?

The essence of ill health prevention is supporting people to make healthy choices. In developing Thrive Plymouth, we recognise that lifestyle choices are usually made under the combined influence of ‘agency’ and ‘structure’. ‘Agency’ suggests that individuals are responsible for the choices they make and ‘structure’ acknowledges that they do so constrained or enabled by structural circumstances (social, economic and cultural) over which they have limited direct control. While no assumptions are made about how important each of these is relative to the other in determining healthy lifestyles, this philosophical basis for Thrive Plymouth is important to acknowledge. This is more so because the step change in health and wellbeing that we aspire to as a city is achievable by acknowledging that although individuals have responsibility for actions that affect their health, such positive actions could be enabled by changes to the structural contexts in which health-related choices are made.

Thrive Plymouth was adopted by Plymouth City Council on 11 November 2014. It strongly reflects the Council’s endorsement of the Marmot policy objective of strengthening the role and impact of ill health prevention. It provides a mechanism for achieving the NHS Forward View aspiration of a radical upgrade in prevention and public health. Finally, it is a key delivery mechanism for the city’s integrated health and wellbeing system as well as its aspirations for health and wellbeing set out in the Plymouth Plan. Thrive Plymouth draws on the approach to chronic disease prevention first presented by the Oxford Health Alliance.

We recognise there are four behaviours which lead to four diseases which cause 54% of deaths in the city. If we can be free from tobacco, drink safely, be physically active and eat healthily we will feel better now and live longer healthier lives. We want to organise the efforts of society to improve health and wellbeing. Whoever you are, you can play your part. 

Thrive Plymouth has three approaches

Population prevention is about the whole population making positive changes, big or small, to their lifestyle choices. This is because lots of people with a small risk of getting a disease can cause just as much ill health as a small number of people with a large risk. So everyone making even a small change will help Plymouth Thrive.

Common risk factor is based on the fact that one unhealthy behaviour can be the basis of many diseases, and that several of these unhealthy behaviours tend to cluster in individuals and in less affluent groups. Focusing on these common risks and how they cluster is more effective.

Context of choice acknowledges that despite an understanding of what is unhealthy, and good intentions to be healthier, change is hard to achieve. This is because we all make choices in settings we often don’t control, where the healthy choice can be harder than the unhealthy one.

We want Plymouth to be a place where the healthy choice is always the easy choice.