Halo Leisure’s Feel Good for Life team have been presented with a hugely important prize in the Welsh Social Value for Future Generations Awards this month as a result of their work taking health, fitness and social connection into people’s homes during the pandemic.
Feel Good for Life was, before Covid hit, targeting people who were feeling isolated, low or lonely as they struggled with mobility or their mental health or life with dementia. And they were seeing rich rewards as people came together at their local Halo Centres for swimming, badminton, table tennis, arts and crafts, tea and chat. Of course, all that stopped overnight when the pandemic hit and leisure centres were forced to close, and Halo’s team knew it would leave their Feel Good for Life participants more isolated and less active than ever. So the team – led by Halo’s Jess Jacques, Ryan Statton and Dan Trowbridge – got to work to take the programme into people’s homes with the help of a digital inclusion programme (read free iPads delivered to the door and advice and support on how to utilise them) and were quickly enjoying 'facetime' and fitness at a distance but via very human connections when people needed the most. The scheme was made possible with the support of Bridgend Borough County Council.
“We feel so proud to be winners in the Health and Wellbeing category,” says Ryan. “But you know the rewards for us came early, as people connected with us and each other online. There was a lot of laughter as people got to grips with tech, loads of social chat across the internet and ether, and plenty of activity to keep everyone moving. Session after session we saw confidence grow and wellbeing prosper. Those ongoing connections created a sense of care and community and common purpose that was so rewarding for us and, we could quickly see, for those taking part.”
Halo Leisure say they're delighted the team's work has been acknowledged and hope, as we come out of the pandemic, it underlines just how vital these programmes are in connecting to the community, including those most vulnerable.
"The leisure industry has made a strong case for its existence through this pandemic, and it's easy for these small but essential programmes to be overlooked when people count the cost of lockdown," says Scott Rolfe, Halo's CEO. "They are such an essential part of the health provision (and health savings) in communities the leisure industry serves. There is so much good work going on across the UK and awards like this shine a light on what that work achieves, not only enriching the lives of participants but their friends, family and carers and communities around them."