A £10 million Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund will help build or upgrade places within communities where local people can go to get active or take part in sport. 109 projects from 26 Local Authorities are already benefitting.
KA Leisure used the fund to develop a specific referral pathway to support people who could improve their mental health and wellbeing by taking part in regular physical activity.
People can join the Mind and be Active project and benefit from one to one support from experienced staff who have a specialised qualification in mental health. Over a 12 month period individuals are supported to participate in a variety of activities such as fitness classes, gym based classes, aqua aerobics, swimming and walking at a subsidised price. Participants gain the benefits of being more physically active but also benefit from the social and emotional support from peers within the group.
Debbie Southerly was referred to the Mind and Be Active project by a health professional and was really nervous about attending her first consultation. Staff worked with Debbie on an individual basis after which she progressed to attend small group sessions within the gym. She soon noticed that her confidence had improved, she was thinking much more clearly and was able to make decisions for herself. She is now feeling generally more positive about life, is less fatigued and has more energy. Debbie says “my confidence and self-esteem have improved and I feel able to go out more, meet up with friends and do more in everyday life.
Debbie is keen to share her experiences and help other people and is now a volunteer within the Mind and Be Active programme. She recently completed Paths for All, Walk Leader Training and now leads a weekly walk for other participants in the project. She also took part in the 2016 6 mile Sport Relief fun run. Debbie stated “I would have never have contemplated taking part in such a big event without the support of the staff from the Mind and Be Active project. Taking part in Mind and Be Active has brought back my self-worth”.
To mark national Mental Health Awareness week the Mind and Be Active team held a celebration event for project participants and partners in May 2016. A variety of activities such as a health walk, walking football, court sports, mindfulness and relaxation sessions were programmed and partners provided health information and advice in a marketplace. The day provided the opportunity to bring everyone together to have fun and share their experiences.