HENRY (Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young) is an eight week group programme for parents of young children in Children’s Centres across Hackney and the City of London. It accepts referrals from parents or carers with children under five years of age who are keen to develop their skills to provide a healthy lifestyle for their family.

Get Hackney Healthy is the overarching Hackney-wide work programme of universal provision for 5-18 year olds, which aims to improve the health of children and young people by reducing obesity, with a particular focus on families. The programme is informed by the ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ report, which highlighted the influence of wider social determinants on health and the need to engage with these to prevent the intergenerational cycle of health inequalities. 3

Get Hackney Healthy includes the following elements:

  • delivery of the ‘Eat Better, Start Better’ healthy food and drink guidelines in all early years settings (currently 70% of settings are achieving this)
  • a training programme for key professionals working with children and young people, with a focus on those working with the under fives and their families
  • delivery of the HENRY programme in a range of early years settings
  • delivery of Health Heroes, a whole school approach to tackling childhood obesity aimed at primary schools
  • delivery of the Play Streets programme across the borough – closing streets to enable children to have space to ‘play out’.
  • a grants scheme (the Get Hackney Healthy Challenge Fund), which funds community and voluntary sector projects that aim to increase physical activity and/or improve access to or knowledge of healthy food.

Examples of specific Get Hackney Healthy projects are described in Box 5.

Box 5: Some examples of recent Get Hackney Healthy projects aimed at children and young people 4

Health Heroes (primary schools) – seven schools participated in Health Heroes between 2013 and 2015, with interventions focusing on physical activity, increasing children’s knowledge of healthy eating and school catering reviews.


Play Streets (children and families) – 2,000 children took part in safely playing on closed roads during 2014/15.


Hackney Wild Walks (children and families) – planned walking routes around three Hackney locations – with activities and spots of interest marked out. Maps were distributed to all Hackney residents in July 2014.


Other local authority-funded universal services also contribute to tackling childhood obesity, including Hackney’s Cook and Eat community kitchen programme which teaches residents how to cook healthy, nutritious and tasty meals while keeping to a budget.  This programme runs across a number of Hackney’s estates, with some courses being aimed specifically at local families with children.

The Hackney Obesity Strategic Partnership was formed in 2016 to guide a ‘whole systems approach’ to preventing and tackling obesity (in children and adults) across the borough.  The partnership is chaired by the chief executive of the council and includes membership from across a range of service areas that can influence aspects of the food and physical activity environment, as well as the NHS.


  1. M. Marmot, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives,” University College London, 2010.
  2. London Borough of Hackney, “Healthy Hackney,” [Online]. Available: http://hackney.gov.uk/healthy-hackney. [Accessed 24 October 2016]..
  3. M. Marmot, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives,” University College London, 2010.
  4. London Borough of Hackney, “Healthy Hackney,” [Online]. Available: http://hackney.gov.uk/healthy-hackney. [Accessed 24 October 2016]..