Halo Leisure, a social enterprise and registered charity which operates all the Council’s leisure centres in the County is delighted to win the prestigious national Community Leisure UK ‘Impact through physical activity’ Award for it’s dementia-friendly activities under their ‘Feel Good for Life’ programme.
The Community Leisure UK Awards aim to champion and showcase leisure trusts/social enterprises’ outstanding achievements across the UK.
What started off as the Dementia Friendly swimming program in Bridgend County has been such a success story for all involved – the people living with dementia and their carers. Since 2019, the programme has grown considerably, incorporating more activities and venues, and also reaching out to people who are feeling lonely or low.
Halo says winning the award is a testament to the amazing outreach work carried out by their teams, the thousands of people in the Bridgend area living with dementia, and the families and friends caring for them. They’ve embraced the opportunity to come to exercise and socialise with Halo under their Feel Good For Life initiative – and, crucially, have discovered the difference it makes.
“When the scheme was launched, Halo worked hard to identify potential users and understand their needs to ensure the environment and activities were accessible, appropriate but most importantly fun,” says Ryan Statton, Halo’s Active Communities Manager. By monitoring sessions via surveys and interviews, they’ve been able to show how the programme promotes independent living, how healthy activity is preventing loneliness and supporting carers via networking and advice.
Ryan stresses the programme is in many ways about the inclusivity of physical activity, and the welcome everyone – no matter what age or ability – will receive at Halo. “With the number of people supported with dementia in Bridgend anticipated to grow to over 3000 by 2030 that has got to be important for the future of the leisure sector, and the future of our county’s health,” he says.
The importance is also emphasised in the current coronavirus crisis. Ryan concluded, “As leisure centres and other services enter their fourth month of closure, an Alzheimer’s Society investigation has found that lack of social contact is having a devastating impact on people with dementia. So there’s lots of work ahead to support people affected by dementia during the current crisis, but it’s nice to take a moment, reflect and recognise all that’s been achieved to date”.
To create this scheme, Halo Leisure worked with a partnership of adult social care, health trainers, carers and local community groups (including the Alzheimer’s Society, Bridgend Association of Voluntary Organisations, Awen Libraries,Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Bridgend County Borough Council) to create a safe and welcoming environment for people living with dementia. The project was also made possible thanks to National Lottery Players and the National Lottery Community Fund Wales, as well as funding from the Peter Harrison Foundation and BCBC.
Halo Leisure were also finalists in another two categories in the Community Leisure UK Awards – the ‘Workforce Development Award’ and ‘Outstanding Volunteer Award (Betty Kerry from Halo’s centre in Ogmore)’.
Bina Messenger, Project Coordinator – Marketing and Communications
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