Free Fitness Activities for Portsmouth Residents
|Published: 28th August 2020 09:09|
Lottery funding helps to get Portsmouth moving again
The exercise sessions are specifically for people with autism, mental health illness, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Parkinson’s disease, and those who are on a healthcare pathway following a stroke or cardiac event.
Classes will be run by BH Live, the charitable trust that operates the city’s sport and leisure centres in partnership with Portsmouth City Council.
They include online disability yoga and seated exercise, alongside walking, pole walking and cycling in small groups. Sessions began in August and the programme will run over 20 weeks. Face to face walking and cycling sessions will be running from various locations across the city including Mountbatten Leisure Centre. Virtual classes for participation in the home will use platforms such as Zoom to reach as many people as possible.
To deliver the classes, BH Live has been awarded National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund in conjunction with Energise Me, a physical activity charity, which works across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The fund aims to tackle inequalities in activity levels through working with its partners to reach those most in need as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s Chief Executive, said, “We are proud to be able to provide funding and support to BH Live in this difficult period. This funding will help support our valuable community infrastructure that is so important in keeping the nation active and will also provide important connections and reconnections for people whose lives have been affected by COVID-19 and for whom remaining active is so important for their physical, mental and social wellbeing. We know from our research and data that there are existing inequalities between groups when it comes to activity levels and COVID-19 has re-enforced these. Thanks to the support of the National Lottery and its players, the Tackling Inequalities Fund will be both crucial and central to ensuring no-one is left behind when it comes to having the opportunity to be active during this period. This builds off the back of our £35m Community Emergency Fund that has already reached and supported over 7,500 community clubs and groups across England.”
Penny Woods, Energise Me’s Strategic Lead for Programmes said, “COVID-19 has led to many challenges for communities who, for reasons such as low income and lack of opportunity, are less likely to be active. Some are finding it harder than ever to be active enough to maintain good health and wellbeing. Voluntary groups and organisations such as BH Live, who run activities, have been hard hit too. Many are struggling to survive, leaving them unable to provide what communities need.
“Through Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund, we’ve launched Investing in Communities to tackle these issues head on. Enabling BH Live to resume these activities is a step towards reactivating our community and promoting better health and wellbeing.”
Following the lifting of Government restrictions in July, BH Live started to reopen the leisure centres it operates across the city with more to open in September. However, to comply with social distancing, the centres are operating at reduced capacity which affects the range of activities it can viably offer at this time.
Rob Cunningham, BH Live’s Head of Leisure adds, “Prior to lockdown we were providing health and wellbeing exercise classes to around 1,500 people with long term health conditions each month – activity that we were able to sustain and support using profits from our commercial activity.
“Overnight we had to close our doors and it became more difficult to reach those who were benefiting from our services. While some people have had the ability and confidence to continue exercising at home, for many others it has been more challenging as they have been unable to access the support and motivation they need. This, compounded with loneliness and social isolation, is one of the many reasons we wanted to get these activities back up and running again as soon as possible – albeit in a slightly different format to allow for social distancing and to protect those who are still shielding or have apprehensions about returning to public spaces at this time.
“We have been reaching out to those who were accessing our activities prior to lockdown. To overcome as many barriers to participation as possible we will also be providing help to those who aren’t so familiar with accessing activities using technology.”
“Our thanks to Energise Me, Sport England and the National Lottery who, through their support and shared vision for active communities, have enabled us to make this happen.”
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said, “We know that the past few months have been hard for people especially those living with long term conditions and disabilities. It is important that people stay fit and healthy and these fitness classes will help to get people moving and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. This will go a long way in supporting those at risk of becoming socially isolated whilst improving their health and wellbeing.”
For some activities, including the COPD, cardiac and stroke rehabilitation classes, residents must have a referral from their health practitioner to participate.
To find out more about the activities, qualifying criteria and availability, email BH Live’s exercise referral team at exercisereferralMLC@bhlive.org.uk
For more information about leisure centres in Portsmouth visit bhliveactive.org.uk