AGE IS NO BARRIER
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.
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Villages has been running for 10 years now and at least 85% of all activities are sustained after the funding has been withdrawn.”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.