Swansea UK Healthy City



Swansea has a population of over 230,000, with 19.9 % aged under 18 years and 9% aged over 75 years. The population is diverse with 13% of Swansea’s local areas falling within the top 10% most deprived in Wales. Swansea is also a university city and popular tourist destination, with a mixture of post-industrial urban areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty. There are 50 named beaches and coves and a five mile sweep of sandy bay within a ten minute walk from the city centre, with over 50% of the County’s area being of significant ecological interest.


Health and Wellbeing in Swansea

  • Nearly half of adults drink above the recommended guidelines on at least one occasion per week.
  • Alcohol-specific hospital admissions for males in Swansea are higher than the Welsh average.
  • Swansea has the second highest adult hospital admission rate due to psychoactive substances in Wales.
  • 27% of adults meet the physical activity guidelines and 56% of adults are overweight or obese.
  • The under-16 teenage conception rate is 6.1 per 1000, lower than the Welsh average.
  • Swansea has a life expectancy gap between the most and least deprived areas of about 12 years for males and 7 years for females. The healthy life expectancy gap is nearly 23 years for males and 15 years for females. The disability-free life expectancy  gap is nearly 18 years for males and 14 years for females.
  • Rates of premature mortality from circulatory disease are four times higher in more deprived areas compared to affluent areas.
  • In the city’s more deprived areas, 63% of 5 year olds have three or more decayed, missing or filled teeth.

Key Achievements

  • A Healthy Nightlife Project has been overseen by a board involving a local councillor.
  • A health impact assessment methodology for the Local Development Plan has been completed.
  • An equity integration framework pilot for all policies has been developed.
  • Successful workshops have been held to build capacity, increase understanding of the WHO Healthy Cities initiative and agree priorities for action.
  • The Police Chief Superintendent saw the potential for reducing drug and alcohol-related crime through adopting the Healthy Cities concept to further enhance community-led integrated preventive approaches.
  • A detailed substance misuse assessment has been undertaken.
  • Information requirements for data sharing have been agreed among partners.
  • A traffic light system for managing city centre alcohol related assaults is in development.


Swansea’s Healthy City Story

Swansea received WHO Healthy City designation in September 2010. Political leadership and senior executive support across the Health Board and Local Authority has been critical in shifting the culture towards an integrated approach. New alliances have been formed between agencies and some existing ones strengthened - particularly between health, the police, leisure and city planning. Drawing on our membership of the UK Network, we have used experience from other cities to initiate action locally. Partners have agreed to concentrate on promoting health and health equity in all policies, tackling substance misuse through a neighbourhood partnership approach; joining physical activity and nutrition under a single strategic forum to maximise efforts and resources to tackle inactivity and obesity levels; and prioritising healthy urban environment and design through using health impact assessment and running a workshop to promote the benefits of healthy urban planning and agree priority areas for improvement in Swansea.

Future Plans and activities

Health and health equity in all local policies: The equity integration framework will be embedded within the Health Board and Council with a workshop for facilitators in each partnership to aid implementation.

Creative and supportive environments: An asset mapping exercise will be undertaken to provide a sustainable directory of services for both the public and professional stakeholders and we will accelerate action to address local health inequalities in partnership with the Marmot Review team.

Healthy Living: We will engage local sports clubs in supporting the Healthy Stadia programme, and conduct research into the integration of physical activity into the school curriculum.

Healthy urban environment and design: A stakeholder workshop will be delivered with the WHO Collaborating Centre on Healthy Urban Environments at the University of the West of England.

Councillor Comment

“In my view, achieving WHO Healthy Cities designation status has been a significant factor in concentrating our minds on identifying common strategic goals and promoting greater cross-sector working than hitherto existed. The opportunity to learn from other partner cities across the UK and Europe has proven invaluable in informing our own theory and practice. In short, the designation is a potent catalyst in the continuing challenge of addressing health inequity within the City and County of Swansea.”
Councillor Nick Tregoning, City and County of Swansea

Other Comment

“The designation by WHO has itself has been a facilitative factor in refreshing efforts in Swansea to improve health and well being and fundamentally tackle health inequity. Membership of the UK Healthy Cities Network and contacts made with the other UK Healthy City Co-ordinators has already proved extremely beneficial.”


The UK Healthy Cities Network is an accredited member of the WHO European Healthy Cities Programme

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