OCL wins funding to help reduce social isolation
Oldham Community Leisure (OCL), in partnership with a number of local community groups, has been awarded Social Action Funding from Oldham Cares, the town’s recently formed health and social care service.
The £272,957 in funding will be used for the newly created Oldham Active Communities Project, which aims to use physical activity to reduce levels of social isolation within the community.
The three-year Oldham Active Communities Project is being delivered by Wellbeing Leisure, which is part of Oldham Community Leisure. It will see the trust partner with community groups to provide physical activity, health and wellbeing opportunities, as well as the chance to learn skills and gain health and fitness qualifications.
Wellbeing Leisure staff will deliver group consultation sessions within community centres, to people who have either been referred from local GPs or self-referred on the basis of a diagnosed medical condition.
These sessions will offer advice and signpost people to appropriate activities nearby, including twice weekly social wellbeing sessions such as The Friday Club, run by the trust at Oldham Leisure Centre.
The clubs is for those looking to make new friends and become more active with like-minded people. It offers a variety of different activities for Oldhamers to try, along with informative talks and a light lunch.
Wellbeing Leisure has recruited two new staff members, Phil Brooke and Mark Woodcock, as part-time Health and Wellbeing Advisors to support and develop the project.
Brooke has managed the Slimmin’ Without Women project in Oldham, delivered falls prevention classes and was previously a volunteer for Age UK Oldham. He currently works part time at Saddleworth Leisure Centre as a gym instructor and has just been shortlisted for the Changing Lifestyles Award as part of the Oldham Sports Awards.
Woodcock was previously managing director of Diffikicks Toddler Football franchise and is also a personal trainer, with experience in community settings throughout Manchester. He is currently studying for his Level 4 Exercise Referral qualification.
Jackie Hanley, Wellbeing Leisure’s Health and Wellbeing Manager, who is leading on the project, says: “We’re very pleased to be working alongside the community to encourage more people to take up exercise.
Social isolation and loneliness is a national priority and it’s no different here in Oldham; 10 per cent of residents identify as being lonely, which has a detrimental impact on health, quality of life and life expectancy. We hope to break down barriers, support individuals to live more active lives and, in doing so, reduce loneliness and isolation.
“What’s really exciting is we’ll be recruiting volunteers to help run the programmes, offering them funded training to deliver quality interventions and ultimately acting as a ‘match-maker’ to pair new volunteers with areas of identified need, so they can deliver sustainable community activity.”
Stuart Lockwood, Chief Executive of Wellbeing Leisure, says: “This project will kickstart our long-term commitment to supporting community centres to maximise their impact on improving the health and wellbeing of residents. Everyone in Oldham deserves quality provision on their doorstep and we are delighted to be driving this ambition so more people can be active more often.”
Oldham Cares received more than 20 applications for its £850,000 social action fund. Priority was given to projects aiming to improve people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing, and support a reduction in pressure on health services.
Cllr Zahid Chauhan, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said:
“We had an overwhelming amount of interest in our social action fund, which highlights all the amazing ideas within our communities. We have made a real commitment to tackling social isolation and loneliness in Oldham and are looking forward to working with our successful applicants to make a difference to residents’ lives.”
Other groups selected to receive funding are the Oldham BAME Consortium, a new partnership developing three neighbourhood hubs focused on reaching out to the isolated Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities. Oldham Play Action Group and Wifi NW will provide all-age cookery courses to bring children, parents, carers and older socially isolated people together to prepare and cook meals.
Street Angels will grow the work already taking place in Oldham town centre on weekend evenings, where teams of volunteers and medical staff support those enjoying Oldham’s nightlife by providing a listening ear, first aid and basic medical treatment.
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