Residents in Chelmer Housing Partnership (CHP) sheltered accommodation units are joining in with a range of physical activities to get moving again following social isolation caused by the pandemic.
The Forever Active programme, run by Chelmsford City Council’s Community Sport and Wellbeing team, helps people to rebuild strength, balance and confidence in sport and movement.
In November 2021, the team recognised that people had become very isolated within their own homes due to the coronavirus pandemic. To gently encourage people to socialise and increase their physical activity, they visited different CHP schemes in Chelmsford and put on a range of activities within the communal lounges. The CHP residences house older and vulnerable people.
The scope of activities on offer is vast, and includes line dancing, seated bowls, boccia, table tennis, darts, board games/cards and seated basketball and dance – providing something to suit everyone.
The uptake was initially understandably slow, as residents had lost confidence in mixing with others. But with encouragement from the Community Sport and Wellbeing team, the activities are now a huge hit with residents. There have been over 860 attendances since the project began.
Funding for the programme came from Essex County Council’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) / Covid Recovery Fund, as well as Chelmer Housing Partnerships and Active Essex. Donated equipment such as bats and balls has allowed residents to continue participating in games in their free time too.
CHP residents are grateful for the opportunities the scheme has provided, with one resident explaining:
‘My wife and I were excited and grateful that our City Council are offering this programme, especially since the coronavirus pandemic meant we were all pretty much housebound. The programme has helped us all get out, meeting neighbours and new friends from our own complexes as well as from others where the activities are provided…it has been our reason to get out and exercise’.
Councillor Ann Davidson, Cabinet Deputy for Healthy Living and Older Persons Champion tells how this has been such an important project for both health and wellbeing.
“Watching residents socialise and be active with their nearest neighbours has been wonderful to see. I’ve been to several of these sessions in various locations and have had a go myself joining in the activities with the residents. They like to chat, they’re clearly enjoying themselves and there’s even quite a bit of competitiveness! Not only are they being physically active which is great for their health and movement, it’s putting smiles on peoples’ faces and giving them a reason to socialise.
The Community Sport and Wellbeing Team are doing a great job and I’ll continue to work with them in their aim to establish more sessions in other areas.”Councillor Ann Davidson, Cabinet Deputy for Healthy Living and Older Persons Champion
Growing the Forever Active programme
The success of the Forever Active programme so far has encouraged the Community Sport and Wellbeing team to continue growing the scheme over the next year. They know there are still many vulnerable residents remaining within their flats and want the programme to reach even more sheltered housing units across the city.
As strength and confidence of the participating residents grows, the team wants to encourage people to increase the intensity of the activities at the sessions, as well as signposting to outside organisations such as gyms, walking, football groups, cricket clubs and bowls clubs.
The Forever Active programme is not just for CHP residents. Classes and activities across the city can be found in the directory: https://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/leisure-centres/where/community-sport-and-wellbeing/forever-active/.