In August, Active Lincolnshire distributed £80,000 of National Lottery funding from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund to 17 organisations across the county which are engaging groups and communities whose levels of activity have been hardest hit by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
The Tackling Inequalities fund focuses on reducing the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on activity levels in under-represented groups, ensuring gaps between those who are active and those who are not do not widen during this period. These groups include, disabled people, those with long-term health condition, people from lower socio-economic groups, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
Many of the Lincolnshire ‘Tackling Inequalities’ supported projects are already having a significant impact on the groups and individuals they are working with. The below case study from the Voiceability Walking Challenge project demonstrates, on an individual level, the positive effect on people’s wellbeing the funding is having through enabling organisations to provide support and resources to enable people to be more active.
Voiceability is a national charity providing advocacy and involvement services to people with disabilities and mental health issues. Supported by Tackling Inequalities funding, Voiceability are delivering a Lincolnshire wide walking challenge, working with organisations that support people with learning disabilities as well as individuals. The project encourages participants to move more through walking; tracking their steps using pedometers provided and setting personal goals to motivate themselves to make improvements to their fitness. Over 50 people are regularly engaging with the challenge, with groups including Linkage, Thera East Midland and Lincolnshire County Council Day Services taking part.
Many people with learning disabilities have felt particularly vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic. This challenge has given them encouragement to get out and be part of something they can do safely, with achievable goals they can set for themselves. The project aims to make fitness fun, and is awarding two prizes each week – one for the person who has walked the most steps and one for the person who has made the most effort.
One of the participants, 24-year old Amy, has been motivated to leave her wheelchair for the first time in two years after taking part in the project, and being involved with the planning for it. Amy was born with Gillespie Syndrome, a very rare genetic condition, which affects the cerebella and the eyes. The condition causes difficulties with Amy’s balance and co-ordination, and so she uses a wheelchair to get about most of the time. Amy can walk short distances with a walking frame and her parents have encouraged her to do this in the past. However, two years ago Amy injured her knee and following this she has been wary of walking.
The project has inspired Amy to start walking with her frame again and she is gradually increasing the number of steps she is doing every day. On the first day of the project Amy walked 70 steps. Showing great perseverance, she has been increasing her steps on a daily basis and is now completing up to 1230. As of week five of the project her total steps stand at 14,840 in total, which is a great personal achievement. Her neighbours in the street where she has been doing her walking have been coming out of their houses to cheer her on, and her efforts are inspiring others, including her mum, to improve their own fitness levels.
Amy has really noticed the benefits to her health and wellbeing from taking part in the challenge; She has more energy, and has lost weight, she also previously had issues with a swollen ankle which has now improved dramatically. She is really enjoying walking, and has even bought some new boots to give her ankles support, which improves her stability and helps her do even more steps! Amy is really keen to carry on walking every day when the challenge comes to an end in November and is looking for her next challenge.
She hopes that her story will inspire others to lead a healthier life and she is trying to embed this into her work supporting people with learning disabilities, advising health professionals on supporting and communicating with people with a learning disability and creating easy read documentation.
Active Lincolnshire will work with Voiceability to signpost to suitable resources and activities to encourage Amy and other participants to keep up with their physical activity habits once the project has come to an end.
Find out more about all the projects that have been supported with Tackling Inequalities funding in Lincolnshire here: