A Healthy Living project based in Leeds has been working to improve the Health and Wellbeing of taxi drivers by supporting them to make positive changes to their diet, exercise and lifestyle.
The Leeds Cab Drivers project, funded by the Pfizer UK foundation was delivered by staff from the Hamara Healthy Living Centre, located in the City &Hunslet Ward of Leeds with research and evaluation support provided by Leeds Met University.
As professions go, taxi drivers experience high levels of chronic disease, linked to sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and stressful lifestyles. A significantly high proportion of taxi drivers are of South Asian background, a group that also experience disproportional levels of chronic disease compared to the general population linked to eating habits, ethnic make-up and lifestyle choices.
Some early results from the study show that over the course of the 12 week project, taxi drivers dropped as much as five inch from their waist circumference and five kilograms of weight lost.
Hanif Malik, CEO of the Hamara Centre, commented: “What we have found is that this project is a ground-breaking unique project tackling ill-health and inequality for not only the Cabbies but support for their families which helps with continuity and consistency.
“Hamara has been at the forefront of many such projects but our relationship with Leeds Met has been further strengthened with the support of Pfizer UK foundation.”
Starr Zaman, Lead officer on the project, added: “This taxi driver’s initiative is a well over due project for Leeds and its surrounding areas.
“We have upwards of 5,000 plus taxi drivers and early health interventions will help with putting less strain on our overworked NHS. Although the Taxi Firms are from Leeds not all the drivers are, with cabbies coming from Bradford, Kirklees, Wakefield and even Manchester residents’ working in Leeds.
“Our intervention was an ‘assisted ride’, Hamara trained staff knew all the ‘short cuts’ and what ‘our customer’ was going to say. We even gave them ‘a tip’ by helping their families and over all it was a pleasant journey that needs to be continued.”
Leeds Met provided vital support in the evaluation of data and help in researching the issue. Prof. Steve Robertson, who has been working closely with the project on behalf of the University was delighted to see the ‘fantastic outcomes’.
He said: “The long, unsociable hours that taxi drivers work can make it difficult for them to access mainstream health services and fitness facilities.
“This pilot project indicates that delivering a service in an accessible and culturally sensitive way can help break down some of the barriers to taxi drivers to participating in health promoting activities.”