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By GreaterSport | 22 December 2021 | TAGS: Local Pilot, Stories, Rochdale

Richard: ‘The New Pioneers have helped me a lot with my mental health and keeping me mentally active. Some of the things we have done are a wellbeing park walk in Falinge Park doing various activities, and interacting with new people to help with my social anxiety. We have been doing a cycling course in Hopwood Hall car park on a Sunday to improve on my cycling and interacting with new people. The New Pioneers have helped me with so much since I have been involved, from courses and activities, to interact with people with similar backgrounds, and it is helping me keep mentally active and stimulated with the world and round the area, instead of staying in bed with no motivation.’ 

The Local Pilot has:

  • Invested in capacity – a dedicated role within the Work, Health and Skills team who supports employability services to embed physical activity into their services.
  • Supported those 38 people into physical activity by working with services that they are already engaging with, and crucially trust, to encourage them to become active.

What’s different because of the influence of the Local Pilot?

  1. The focus on the person as a whole, supporting them mentally and emotionally before introducing physical activity as an opportunity.
  2. Tailoring the opportunity to the individuals who are ready to engage and their situations.
  3. The value that employability colleagues are placing on sport and physical activity as part of the individuals’ journey into, or back to, employment.

What’s significant in this example?

  • The time and effort committed by both Local Pilot and employability colleagues to develop this.
  • The approach of the staff delivering the programme where they get involved in the activities too; working alongside their clients, removing barriers as they go and building trust.
  • The interest this is generating in other employability services, and within other parts of the local system, that also support the people involved in the programme.
  • The additional investment that has been committed by the local authority to develop this further across the township with other organisations and services.
  • The commitment from the individuals engaged, their interest in trying other forms of sport and physical activity, and also developing themselves to lead and deliver activities themselves as volunteers.
  • A flexible approach to investing in and commissioning this service from the local housing provider which has allowed this element of their work to develop over time, and without the constraints of targets.

Steph Rush, Skills Work and Health Manager, Rochdale Borough Council said ‘We should recognise and highlight Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s role in funding the project, and the flexibility and freedom they have given the staff to be able to really make a difference to people’s lives and the wider community, and not just play the numbers game.’

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