More than 80 Colchester and Tendring residents visited the Colchester Sports Park today and took part in the Care Home and Commonwealth Games delivered by FaNs (Friends and Neighbours) and Colchester Borough Council.
Funded by the NHS, the games helped 11 Colchester and Tendring care homes’ 83 residents to get up, get moving and enjoy green open spaces. Participants were warmed up and put through their paces with a routine specially designed for older people, who were able to enjoy penalty football from Colchester United FC, cycling from Wheels for All, boccia, curling and dance from Sport for Confidence, discus and shot put. The Deputy Mayor of Colchester, Cllr John Jowers, awarded medals to the winners of each activity.
Tony Lee, Communities Network Lead for Essex from FaNs, said: “It's absolutely critical that older people in care homes have access to a world of fitness and movement, just as the rest of their communities do. There is undeniable evidence of the benefits to mental health attributed to physical exercise, and we want to deliver this in a fun and a free way that will engage with large numbers and leave a legacy for care homes to continue with in the future.”
Nikki Leaney, Manager of Alderwood Care Home in Colchester, said: “Our residents had been looking forward to this for such a long time, and now it's over, we can say we weren't disappointed. We all had great fun and it was so well organised by everyone involved. We're going to take a few of the events back to Alderwood with us to do again, both inside and out. Thanks again everyone, we're already looking forward to the Olympics.”
Joan Adam, Resident of Kilkee Lodge Care Home, who held onto her hat when riding an adaptive bicycle, said: “It was such a nice surprise. I haven’t ridden a bicycle since I was a child, and I was a bit apprehensive. I thought it was absolutely impossible. Though, I was a little panicked when approaching the bend! My favourite part of today is the company and mixing with people.”
The event is just one of the activities made possible by £1.5m funding from the NHS. The money has been awarded to Colchester Borough Council and Active Essex to support their work in encouraging physical activity and healthy lifestyles among the most disadvantaged communities in the local population.
Led by Active Essex, the partners have been brought together as part of the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot (LDP), which also includes Tendring District Council, to test new health and wellbeing projects such as free Park Play, Street Tag and Beat the Streets in Colchester and Tendring from 2018-2025.
Ed Garratt, Chief Executive, Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board, said: “We know well the benefits physical activity can bring to people’s lives not just for their physical wellbeing but also their mental wellbeing, self-confidence and being part of a social group. These projects address all those things.
“Everyone should have an equal chance in life to be as healthy as they can possibly be, regardless of where they live or how much money they have.
“It’s vital we support local projects like these to help address the inequalities in health that are caused by deprivation. These are exciting, imaginative projects that will offer people of all ages that basic human right.”
The funding links directly to the costs of the LDP already incurred over the past four years and to the delivery of the following projects, which are either happening or are proposed: Essex Pedal Power; the Tendring Wheels for All Project; activities celebrating The Commonwealth Games; Park Play; Beat the Street; suicide prevention; investment in open spaces for ‘green prescribing’; youth facilities, and Street Tag.
Jason Fergus, Head of Active Essex, commented: “This significant funding from the NHS marks a major milestone in our quest to make physical activity the number one factor for improving public health in Colchester and Tendring.”
Cllr Julie Young, Colchester Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Housing & Communities, said: “Projects in Colchester such as the Commonwealth Games and Park Play encourage those who might otherwise be inactive to enjoy the benefits of physical activity. Activity can help prevent illness and pain whilst improving sleep, brain and heart health, and lessening anxiety – and so much more! I'm thrilled Colchester has received this funding and I cannot wait to see how it is used to get residents up-and-moving.”
Cllr Lynda McWilliams, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Partnerships, said: “Encouraging physical activity, which can take many forms and be fun-filled as we have seen today, is great for people’s health and mental wellbeing; with the added bonus of reducing pressure on our health services.”