There’s a range of projects in Suf­folk to help us all be­come more ac­tive. Rachel Ban­ham spoke to Ben Jack­son of Suf­folk Sport to find out more.

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In Suf­folk there is a scheme to help us oldies en­joy keep­ing ac­tive

Re­gard­less of your age or mo­bil­ity lev­els, you can be­come more ac­tive - at what­ever that level is for you.

That’s the view of Ben Jack­son, se­nior de­vel­op­ment officer (health and well­be­ing) at Suf­folk Sport.

Some of Suf­folk Sport’s ini­tia­tives in­clude the Fit Vil­lages project and a new ser­vice launched this year in Babergh and Mid Suf­folk, which of­fer a range of sup­port and ad­vice.

Fit Vil­lages helps com­mu­ni­ties in ru­ral lo­ca­tions to set up their own sport and phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity pro­grammes, us­ing fa­cil­i­ties such as vil­lage halls, com­mu­nity cen­tres or play­ing fields.

Ben says: “As the name sug­gests, it works in some of the smaller vil­lages across Suf­folk to en­gage with the com­mu­nity and bring ac­tiv­ity to them, be­cause we know one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers to peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in sport and ac­tiv­ity is travel or trans­port or ac­cess.”

Pre­vi­ous Fit Vil­lages projects have in­cluded ac­tiv­i­ties such as pi­lates, yoga, ta­ble ten­nis and nordic walk­ing.

Ben says: “Fit Vil­lages helps by work­ing within the com­mu­nity to un­der­stand what the need is, cre­ate con­nec­tions with high qual­ity providers and sub­sidise the first

eight weeks, which gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to come and give it a try to see what they think.

“Fit Vil­lages has been run­ning for 10 years now and at least 85% of all ac­tiv­i­ties are sus­tained af­ter the fund­ing has been with­drawn.”

Mean­while, the Ac­tive Well­be­ing ser­vice, run in con­junc­tion with Babergh and Mid Suf­folk Dis­trict Coun­cil, aims to sup­port in­ac­tive adults in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties to be­come and stay more phys­i­cally ac­tive.

An Ac­tive Well­be­ing ad­vi­sor sup­ports clients for a year through con­sul­ta­tions, phone calls and on­go­ing re­views. Clients can self-re­fer to the ser­vice or be re­ferred by their health pro­fes­sional.

The ser­vice has started in Fress­ing­field and Strad­broke and Laven­ham and Long Melford. There is a wide range of ac­tiv­i­ties al­ready tak­ing place in the com­mu­nity, such as otago classes, a chair-based ex­er­cise to help pre­vent falls and in­juries. It is the ad­vi­sor’s role to help peo­ple find what is right for them and en­cour­age long-term be­hav­iour change.

Ben says: “The idea is that we work re­ally closely with the com­mu­nity and the GP prac­tice. It’s built on the prin­ci­ple that we are try­ing to use phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity as a tool to sup­port in­ac­tive older peo­ple to in­crease ac­tiv­ity lev­els and en­gage more within their com­mu­nity.”

Sum­ming up these ini­tia­tives, he adds: “The key mes­sage is that be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive is open to ev­ery­one. It doesn’t mat­ter about age or abil­ity lev­els or mo­bil­ity lev­els, you can be­come more ac­tive - what­ever that level is for you.” De­tails of all projects and how to get in­volved are on the Suf­folk Sport web­site: www.suf­folk­sport. com

Keep­ing ac­tive at St Mary’s, Stoke Hall, in Suf­follk, as part of the Suf­folk Fit Vil­lages cam­paign.

There is plenty of help and to en­able older peo­ple to stay ac­tive.

As well as help­ing older peo­ple to stay ac­tive, the ses­sions serve as a valu­able so­cial event too.

Tak­ing part in a pi­lates ses­sion at a Suf­folk vil­lage hall.

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