(Epping Forest District Council) To receive a presentation from the Council’s Community Health and Wellbeing Team on the ‘Active Living’ Project and an update on the Epping Forest Community Champions programme.
Public Health Improvement Officer, F Ferrari, and Assistant Community Health and Wellbeing Manager, J Warwick, were in attendance.
This was a lifestyle project for adults The aim was to get inactive people active as statistics had shown that just 30 minutes of regular exercise could add a year onto people’s lives.
Following a similar project run by the University of Hertford but adapted for this District, Waltham Abbey was chosen as the pilot town on the research that had been completed. If successful it would be expanded to other areas. An eligible person had to be over 16, live in the Epping Forest District and do less than 30 minutes of activity a week. Participants received an explanatory booklet, were provided one to one support with a trainer and their progress tracked at three, six and nine monthly intervals. There would also be twelve weeks of active living group activities with a further three months free. Classes took place in Buckhurst Hill, Epping and Waltham Abbey. Flexibility if attendance had lapsed, support at the end of a phone or via email, and the opportunity of mixing with like minded people had all helped. Of the 202 referrals, the majority had come from doctors, and families and friends. Those completing a year on the programme had achieved a 100 per cent increased activity.
A members question and answer session followed.
Chigwell Parish Councillor, R Alvin, had recently been contacted by an old age pensioner about the costs as charges were going up to £5 per session and this might impact on referral numbers. F Ferrari replied that they worked closely with Places Leisure. However, this resident was obviously active whereas they worked at the inactive end of the spectrum. These adults would be given free passes to workout at a local leisure centre, but not everyone liked a sports centre environment so another option would be to attend a Forever Active community class. As various programmes were run every day, the aim was to build up activity to encourage people to do more activities. Councillor S Kane said that the Active Life project came under his portfolio, Community and Partnership Services, while leisure came under Councillor N Avey, Contract and Technical Services Portfolio Holder, but they would provide a response.
Buckhurst Hill West Ward Councillor, A Patel, asked about its sustainability and how the Council engaged with local councils to help expand the scheme in local communities, as well as staff resources – the time officers had spent on making the project work and help train local councillors. F Ferrari replied that currently one part time officer but if the project grew, then perhaps a second officer. On sustainability, one idea would be to get people trained up who had participated in the programme and then volunteer to deliver the programme themselves. Another option would be to involve local councils. Officers in the team were registered trainers with the Royal Society of Public Health who could assist in the training of other people to deliver the programme. To prove the programme’s worth it would really need to run for two years. The Council had also been funded by Active Essex to pilot the project.
North Weald Parish Councillor S Jackman asked what the cost to individuals would be to those who might do this. F Ferrari replied that there was no charge for the first six months for people referred on to the programme but then they started to pay for classes. The aim was to build more activity into their lives to become more mobile.