Independent study shows Live Well pilot is helping Glaswegians to live happier and healthier lives

Independent study shows Live Well pilot is helping Glaswegians to live happier and healthier lives

An innovative new programme tackling health inequality in some of Glasgow’s most deprived communities has shown early signs of success.

Live Well Community Referral (LWCR) is aimed at removing barriers and helping people to access a variety of local activities and services that can improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

This includes arts and creative workshops, museum visits, walking groups, sports and fitness sessions, family activities, learning and skills classes, and volunteering opportunities.

Managed by Glasgow Life, the charity that delivers culture and sport in Glasgow, the programme launched in the Calton area of the city in June 2022.

It has since expanded to include Bridgeton, Parkhead, Shettleston and Tollcross due to increased demand.

Participants are linked with a Live Well adviser who works with them to find local activities they’re interested in, and even attend with them if they feel their first visit could be a bit daunting.

Advisers provide structured support until the person feels comfortable accessing activities and services on their own, for up to 12 weeks.

Now an independent evaluation of the programme has produced positive results. Carried out by Social Value Lab, it shows 240 people received support as part of the pilot from June 2022 to September 2023 and found:

  • 100% of participants felt their general happiness had improved.
  • 98% said they felt listened to, and the information they received was relevant and useful.
  • 98% said they were supported to identify individual wellbeing goals and 75% went on to achieve them.
  • 97% agreed that taking part in activities had helped them to feel less lonely or alone.
  • Crucially, 96% of participants agreed they would not have taken part without LWCR support.
  • 96% were more physically active and 93% were better connected to people in their community.
  • 93% indicated that the support from Live Well Health and Wellbeing Advisers was a key factor in finding out what was available to them.
  • Overall, 95% indicated that, based on their own LWCR experience, they would recommend the programme to others.

While there has been significant investment towards improving the health of Glasgow’s population in recent years, comparatively, the city retains one of the poorest health profiles of any Scottish or UK city.

The Glasgow Centre for Population Health reports male life expectancy in the most deprived areas of the city is 15 years shorter than in the least deprived, while the equivalent figure for women is 12 years.

The rate of prescriptions and psychiatric evaluations associated with mental ill health is higher in Glasgow than the national average, and lower levels of physical activity, social interaction and community engagement are creating high levels of social isolation and poor mental health.

Many of these issues have been exacerbated by the Covid 19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis, and are putting an increasing strain on health and social care services and other public services such as Police Scotland.

Referrals into the Live Well programme have been received from a range of partner agencies, including Community Link workers within GP practices, Glasgow Helps and Police Scotland.

Participants can also self-refer, and this has accounted for almost 50% of all referrals received. The main reasons for referral throughout the pilot phase were to increase physical activity; connect with the community; and improve low mood.

Evaluation data from the pilot showed 71% of all LWCR participants were female, 66% were aged 35-74, and 36 participants had a disability. Over half of the people receiving support lived in communities ranked among the most deprived 10% in Scotland.

Bailie Annette Christie, Chair of Glasgow Life, said:

Live Well takes a preventative and person-centred approach to tackling health inequality by providing tailored support to assist those people who are least likely, but most in need of engaging with our cultural and sporting activities.

Whether participants are referred to this service by trusted partners such as GP surgeries, social workers and Police Scotland, or they self-refer, they can be sure our advisers will listen and work with them to identify their wellbeing goals before finding the most appropriate local activities and services that can best support their physical and mental wellbeing.

Irene Cree, Live Well Community Referral Project Manager at Glasgow Life, added:

Our initial evaluation shows the main reasons Live Well can help people improve their health and wellbeing are around personalised support and the accessibility of activities. Participants are finding out about activities they were unaware of, and also telling us that the help they’ve received is a major factor in their continuing attendance.

People are supported in different ways according to their need; for example, as well as the existing range of wellbeing activities provided by Glasgow Life and community organisations in the pilot area, we have co-produced three new tailored programmes.

Our Singing for Fun; Healthy Body, Healthy Mind; and Coffee and Culture initiatives were created in response to a local need for more accessible sessions and they have been really well received. Our Live Well programme reflects Glasgow Life’s unique position as a connector, deliverer and co-producer of wellbeing activities.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Assistant Chief Officer for Older People’s Services at Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (GCHSCP) said:

Live Well is a great example of our Maximising Independence approach in practice. It’s offering practical local support, in response to community demand to enable people to improve their wellbeing.

Our research shows that loneliness and isolation affect people’s wellbeing across all age groups, and Live Well is helping to connect people in their own communities. Local responses to local health and wellbeing issues are a vital way of addressing needs early on and minimising the need for more intensive statutory services further down the line.

Chief Inspector Craig Brady, Police Scotland Local Area Commander for Glasgow North East, said:

Officers in Glasgow East and North East have been involved in Glasgow Life’s Live Well pilot over the last year. This programme directly supports our public health approaches to policing and we have signposted and referred people to Live Well who have come into contact with Police Scotland looking for help and previously didn’t know where to turn.

Live Well has stepped in to fill that gap; helping people to access valuable local services and providing positive outcomes. I would be keen to see the Live Well pilot expanded across Glasgow.

Glasgow Life’s ambition is to expand Live Well Community Referral to become a sustainable and mainstream, citywide initiative, which could support around 2,500 people each year.

The charity is now engaging with local and national partners and stakeholders as it looks to secure the external funding required to implement a phased roll out of the programme across Glasgow in 2024.

For more information on the programme, visit