A group of Sutton residents are helping people in their community adopt healthier lifestyles with support from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund.
The amount of the adult population who do not participate in sport or active leisure has hovered at around 80% since 2006, according to the Active People Survey.
To help engage and improve residents’ activity levels, Sutton Council has partnered with Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust to train people in areas of high non-participation to help build participation in their communities. The project is supported by a 75% subsidy from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund, managed by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, and additional funding from Sutton Council.
Programme coordinator Brian Pote-Hunt says recent research carried out by Ottaway Strategic Management ltd found that Sutton residents who had been inactive for a long period of time “don’t feel confident getting into the Lycra scene – they want to do something that’s free with people from their local community”.
“We’ve responded by putting together a ‘community activator’ programme which gives people the skills to run community based activity sessions for small groups of people.”
Participants on the four day Central YMCA course learn how to set up physical activity sessions in their community, gaining their Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing. They are also provided with the all important insurance to run community sport, health and physical sessions in their community.
Brian says 13 people from a diverse range of backgrounds attended the first programme in March 2011, shortlisted from a group of 30: “We had a librarian, journalist, engineer, au pair, unemployed people and people looking to volunteer locally. But the one thing they all had in common was an interest in helping people lead healthier lives.”
Participant Trevor Graham says many of his engineering colleagues at 02 work long hours, and so exercise slips to the bottom of their priority list. Following his training, Trevor now leads 30 minute activity sessions three mornings a week involving a warm up, full body workout and cool down.
“I’m just trying to help them get their recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day. The first few sessions were hard for some of them, but they’re carried on and now I get between five and 15 people turning up to each session. It’s great.”
Brian says other training participants plan to work with mental health groups, children’s centers and domestic violence victims: “If each of our ‘community activators’ worked with a group of 10, then that’s 130 people we’re providing with an opportunity to become fitter and healthier.”