News - Tags: Active Communities

Tags: Active Communities

Ways to Wellness: Creating Opportunities

Posted: Mon, 05 Jul 2021 15:38

Ways to Wellness: Creating Opportunities

Anita Powell, Volunteering & Community Coordinator at Style Acre shares their success of refreshing their Ways to Wellness programme with the introduction of Ways to Wellness Stars:

At Style Acre, we are in the business of caring, and we really care about the physical and mental health of every person we support, and all our employees and volunteers.

We support 280 adults with learning disabilities and autism in Oxfordshire. The past year has been especially tough for many people within our community, with isolation and changes to routine having a big effect on general health and happiness.

Our staff responded amazingly to lockdown after lockdown, coming up with a range of creative ideas to help people to stay connected, safe, and healthy. We knew that we needed to build on this to keep the momentum going and establish an ongoing focus on health and happiness, and decided that our Ways to Wellness programme, which started in 2018, needed a refresh and a boost. We successfully fundraised to enable us to do so.

Ways to Wellness Stars

Creating opportunities and involving the people we support in decision-making is absolutely key in everything we do at Style Acre.

We have so many inspiring people within our community, and we wanted to find a way to celebrate individuals' achievements and give people a role in shaping the programme. Our Ways to Wellness Stars were born!

The group (of 25+) meets monthly via Zoom. Each month we share stories and ideas, the group is asked their opinion on a few key points (with voting that is accessible to everyone regardless of communication needs), and everyone puts forward activity ideas for the following month's Activity Pack. We have green-fingered Stars who love to grow, Stars who walk, run, dance and cycle (not all at the same time!), culinary Stars who create delicious healthy meals, creative Stars who astound us with their art, and everything in between! You can read one of our Stars, Jessica's inspiring story here.

Grow, Move, Nourish and Connect

We have four Ways to Wellness categories, which all our activities fit into. These are simple to understand, and each has a colour and symbol to identify it too.

Grow is about learning skills to develop as a person, and enjoying therapeutic hobbies.
Move is about getting active through sports, dance and other activities.
Nourish is about caring for yourself and enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Connect is about reaching out, giving back, and working together to build and maintain relationships.

These were put together with reference to the Five Ways to Wellbeing, adapted to engage with our specific community. We created a fun and accessible quiz to help people decide which category they most identify with and where they might like to do more.

Projects in Progress!

In addition to the general Ways to Wellness programme (with monthly themes, activity packs, zoom events, Stars meetings, and lots of sharing of photos on our internal comms platform), we are also working on various sub-projects, a few of them include:

  • A Wellness Journal which we have designed and is being printed and given to all of our staff, volunteers and people we support
  • Wild Acre – a project all about connecting with nature through looking after wildlife in your own garden/neighbourhood
  • Project Carrot – all our houses and hubs have veg trugs, and we run competitions, provide info etc. to help people grow and eat their own produce
  • Buddies – we have a growing number of volunteer buddies who have formed friendships with people we support via Zoom with a focus on wellness. Some people we support are also becoming buddies to young people through the KEEN buddying programme, which is very exciting!
  • Mental Health First Aid Training – we will be training as many staff as possible as Mental Health First Aiders

More of our projects can be found here.

As restrictions ease, and our community cautiously begins to be able to do a little more, we are looking forward to helping each and every person we support to find what makes them feel happy and healthy – and then do more of it!

Tags: Active Communities

A Very Pretty Pink Bike

Posted: Thu, 15 Apr 2021 15:56

A Very Pretty Pink Bike

Active Reach Phase One supported residents in Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys keep physically active during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded by Sport England's Tackling Inequalities Fund, a collaboration of partners including Access Sport, Age UK Oxfordshire, Aspire Oxford, KEEN, Oxford Hub, Oxfordshire Mind, OXSRAD and Oxfordshire Youth were able to provide online classes, local volunteer networks, bike libraries, sports holiday schemes, young leaders' training programmes and specialist physical activity resources.

Here is one of the stories from one of our Active Reach participants collected by The Old Fire Station through our storytelling evaluation:

I won't lie, I genuinely had no idea who Oxford Hub were. I'm not even sure how we got on their radar. I think it was through the school. But when it came to the lockdown, the first one, many moons ago, my oldest two, who are now twelve and ten, got offered to go to a summer school. When they was leaving, they got offered to have bikes given to them, and they were nice enough to give us, the whole family, a bike as well. Either all four of us or the three of us, when the youngest one's at his dad's, we just go out, as far as we can pedal.

My youngest, he's now five, and he hadn't had a bike, and he's really wanted to. So, I was saving up for his birthday, or for Christmas, and then next minute they said that he could have one as well. And they offered me one so we could go on family bike rides. And helmets, locks and lights. They weren't patronising and they didn't make me feel like a bad parent that I couldn't provide these things. They didn't make me feel condescended to when they were talking to me or anything. It just felt more like a case of 'We've got them spare,' even though they didn't, they had to go and get them.

We're waiting now because my daughter, because she's gone on hers so much, we can't figure out if it's got a puncture, or just a flat tire, so we're waiting on a mechanic or someone to come and look at it just to see what's needed. So, they're actually still helping. They've checked up on me, they gave me a Christmas card, and then yesterday one of them messaged me to see how we're getting on with the bikes. I mentioned about the flat tire, and straightaway she said, 'We'll get a mechanic round when we can, and he'll try and fix it for you.'

They have the resources, and they stick at it. They said that they were going to get everyone a bike and they didn't let us down. It wasn't just a case of saying, 'Okay, we're gonna get you all bikes,' and then suddenly, they could only get one for my daughter. And then they're like, 'Actually, we're just gonna leave it now, 'cause we've tried, but we can't do it.' They kept on it until they kept their promise.

It wasn't just the bikes, it was them going to the summer school. That was a massive help because they got to go and see their friends during a really rubbish time. They hadn't seen their friends in God knows how long due to Covid. So, it was nice for them, even though it was still kind of segregated into little bubbles, they had a group of friends, whether it was ones that they may have known already, or even to make new friendships, they got to be kids for a bit. And them having bikes were able to go out and do something other than just sit down in the garden or go for a walk, we can mix it up a bit.

They know how to ride bikes, they know road safety, but I've never taught them to ride with one hand and indicate. But at the summer school, the last two weeks, they took them out and taught them how to crossroads safely, how to indicate with their arms and everything like that. So, they now have a bike license. Just to get a little bit of confidence.

It helped massively knowing that my kids had a slice of normality during all this. It wasn't what they're used to, but it was a snippet of anything, and we grabbed it with both hands while we could. And the bike has definitely helped me out, because regardless of if I've got the kids or not, I could go on a bike ride on my own. But it's massively helped the kids, which then in turn helped me. It wasn't like the first three or four months, where they were kind of getting confused. You could see them again. It was just nice to see my son and my daughter be back to how they were. I can't say they were calmer because obviously they came back all hyper and wanting to talk about stuff, but they were calmer as in, you could clearly see their mental health took a massive dive with the Covid and it just kind of edged them back up a little bit.

It was a relief. 'Cause I've got three, and I'm worrying about all three of them. So a little break or a breather is quite helpful and handy and warranted. Covid has affected everyone in so many different ways but I think the biggest one is mental health. The club and the bikes, they massively helped, whether it be a case of getting the kids to go and see their friends or getting them to meet new ones or getting them out for an exercise for a bit, or now having something new to be able to go and explore. Without that it would have been hideous. Annoying. Just the same day over again.

My kids laughed at me when I came back with a pink bike. 'Cause I am the least girly. We went past and we was like, 'Let's hope it's not that one,' 'cause it was the only pink one sticking out like a sore thumb. And now I have a very pretty pink bike. I'm heavily tattooed, pierced and everything. So, coming out on this little pink thing, with the little wicker basket with the flowers on it, it will be great. But it gets me to A to B and gets the kids out as well so I'm happy either way.

It's good for puddles as well. That was our favourite day when it poured down. There was massive puddles and we just spent, I think it was like forty-five minutes, just racing through them. Just this one puddle, because it went up to, my youngest is quite short, and it went up to his knees. Just speeding through. We got bloody soaked but it was just fun.

Tags: Active Communities, Active Reach

We’re celebrating - Oxfordshire’s outdoor sports have re-opened!

Posted: Wed, 31 Mar 2021 12:13

We’re celebrating - Oxfordshire’s outdoor sports have re-opened!

After an extremely challenging year, everyone at Active Oxfordshire is absolutely delighted that outdoor sports can reopen once more across the county, marking a significant milestone in our roadmap out of lockdown.

This means that local people can enjoy the huge benefits of getting active outdoors, and we are loving hearing about the various outdoor sports clubs and activities that are reopening across Oxfordshire.

Our purpose at Active Oxfordshire is to fight inactivity and tackle inequality. The reopening of outdoor facilities is one huge step forward in being able to support Oxfordshire to stay active – improving both our community's physical and mental health.

Paul Brivio, CEO at Active Oxfordshire said:

"It is great to see local people returning to outdoor play and sport as part of the national roadmap out of lockdown. Active bodies make for healthy minds and this has never been so important for our young people or indeed for older people in our community who have been isolated. We are also conscious of people with limited access to open spaces and local clubs, so we are really keen to see new opportunities created by providers and community groups, so that we can widen access and get everybody active - not just a lucky few."

Helping people back into activity

Sport England has set out 5 simple ways that people can move back into sport and physical activity by setting out some advice and ideas through research they have been carrying out based on people's attitudes, intentions, and feelings about returning. You can find this information here.

Active Oxfordshire has launched a dedicated page with key resources to support the reopening of outdoor facilities which can be found here. This page has lots of guidance, advice, and information about returning to play safely, so please do share with any other partners or contacts who may find it useful.

If you are wanting to find an activity that is suitable for you, whether you are just getting started, would like to find out more about local walking or cycling routes or want to find out what's available in your area, head over to GO Active.

Most of all, enjoy getting active outdoors, and we'd love to hear about your experiences!

Tags: Active, Active Clubs, Active Communities