‘Just For Men’
Members of the project were asked: How has the project been of benefit to you and improved your quality of life?
- Chris (1) who has been attending the project since February quoted “yes it motivates me to get out the house and be social”
- Ben who has been attending the project since it started said:“Yes, Ian helped me a lot by getting me on to an English and maths GSCE retake course and also helped me with things at the job centre and to help start up my own business. So the project has benefitted me career wise, socially and with my confidence”.
- Glen who has been attending the project since the middle of December, said: “helped me with my confidence and stops me from feeling bored”.
- Chris (2) who at the time of consultation was fairly new to the project and had only been attending for two weeks said “it has helped my social skills and is good for my wellbeing to get out and do something to enhance my quality of life”.
- Abdul who has been attending since the project started in November said: “it has made me a stronger character inside and I am able to take control of my own life now, it is a nice atmosphere and has also benefitted me by giving me cooking and social skills.”
- Mo who has been attending since November quoted that “having the friendship is comforting”
‘We Can Do’ and ‘Cook and Eat’
Although Mary does attend other groups, she is very committed to attending the group as she feels the opportunity to get to know new people has raised her confidence and that she has learned new skills and enjoys the opportunity to eat with friends at the lunch club.
“I heard about the activities through a friend called Maggie who attends the group”
“Initially I tried it and found that it was really good, having the lunch as well makes such a difference. You get good banter, as we are talking and comparing about things, it makes you feel that you are not the only one that has got problems and doesn’t feel well, or who’s had to have an operation or something. It is very good.”
“I enjoy the group because you are learning something and can sit and concentrate and do it. You can see other people’s ideas and talk and learn at the same time. It motivates you to do things where as at home you get interruptions and can’t spend the time doing something or are easily put off, whereas here if you have got a problem or a question on anything you can just ask somebody else and they can suggest what you can do.”
“Today I didn’t feel that good but thought I’d make an effort to go. It is so sociable having a meal. You have a good laugh; some of us know each other from different groups and if you don’t know them initially you start talking to them and get to know more people.”
“It builds up your confidence. I have got to know more people coming here and stretch myself. It has enabled me to do things I didn’t think I could do.”
The impact of the group on Mary has been high. Typical of many older people that participate in Bognor CAN activities, eating with other people is clearly important to them because they eat on their own at other times. It is also clear that having the structured opportunity to achieve something and to be creative is also highly valued, as well as having the opportunity to learn something new with a group, so that they can learn from one another.
“I came to meet new people and I thought it was time for me as I’ve had problems with my husband’s health and with my own shoulder and foot and I just needed time for me and to be with my friends.”
“Getting actual projects done, being with my friends and we have a laugh and a meal together. It is such a social occasion. It takes you out of yourself and makes you feel good when you go home.”
“Since my husband’s operation; he was suddenly diagnosed with bowl cancer and we went through quite a traumatic time; and this has really helped me get through it. Having support and being out of the house.”
“Being in the house on my own while my husband was in hospital… just wasn’t the same, so it is nice to have somewhere to come out to and to be with friends and talk about something that wasn’t to do with hospitals. Since then I’ve kept coming. It is the only group I attend.”
For Ethel the group was there when she faced one of the most difficult times of her life – the potential loss of her life partner. The informal and friendly nature of the group means that she could just be around people, take her mind off it, but also get support from the group if she needed it, when she would have been at home on her own during such a traumatic period, otherwise.
“It is the social aspect, just having the opportunity to be more sociable and nice to see different people.”
“ like doing the arts and crafts and all having lunch together in a group, I currently live on my own since my husband died and I am generally always on my own, so it’s nice eating with other people as it makes a change. I would still like to continue going as I enjoy it very much.”
While Ruby’s story is brief and understated, it is important to include it as it reflects the loneliness that many women who live longer than their partner face. This situation is impacted further for people when they do not have a disposable income to spend on going out and meeting new people.
Jo and Fred
“We found out about Martial Arts classes by word of mouth. My twin boys were struggling because they were painfully shy, clever and really self conscious.”
“They like the structure of martial arts and they also get to mix with people they wouldn’t otherwise. Bognor CAN have been very nurturing and the instructor has really helped with their transition to secondary school.”
“Jo recently had his first run in with a bully at secondary school. He defended his friends from a violent boy, and if he hadn’t been attending the martial arts classes he would never have gone back to school after the incident.”
“It is really important too, that as a single parent they have a male mentor to talk these kinds of situations through after they have happened. The instructor takes time to do this.”
“I can’t imagine them stopping doing the Martial Arts classes. They have never moaned about attending and are always ready to go when it’s time to leave for the classes.” “The classes give them safe boundaries. Kids need structure to feel safe and secure.”
“I was the kind of mum that liked them playing the clarinet and doing maths homework, but I realised that they need to run around. They also play football, but unlike the martial arts it is really expensive. If it wasn’t subsidised I couldn’t afford for them to do both. They need to be part of a team and learn to respect other people’s opinions.
They can be competitive without being aggressive and they need that. The last thing I thought they’d do is play football, but martial arts have given them the confidence to become part of a team.”
“They have also become martial arts leaders with the younger age group. This has led to them developing the confidence to go into their old school to help with football training with the younger children.”
‘Health and Wellbeing’
“I came here for general health reasons; I wasn’t walking at the time and was wheelchair bound due to arthritis. I was taught by the club how to use the walking muscles in my legs, and can now walk 4 ½ miles. I feel like I have a new lease of life.”
My goal was to achieve walking 4½ miles, now I have achieved this; my new goal is to walk even further. Also I want to go swimming now, before I came here I was too frightened to, but now I’m not because I know how to use the muscles in my legs.”
“The teacher is encouraging and explains in full about each exercise, helping you to feel more confident and motivates you. I want to continue going to the club as it will encourage me to keep going.”
“I love exercising to music, and it is a great choice of music – really varied, fun and uplifting. Also the social aspect really opens up your life.”
The impact of the fitness classes for older people on Marion has clearly been transformative. She is now able to walk after a prolonged period of being unable to. She has a better social life and is motivated to do other forms of exercise. The goal setting element of the group has also been beneficial. Rather than just endlessly turning up to classes, group members are encouraged to set goals and to take responsibility for measuring their own progress towards them. This approach to the activities is invaluable. It is personalised, focused and motivational.
“I joined after a weight loss of 4 stone and I really wanted to tone up my body.
After I have had a session at the fitness club I feel much better within myself. Also I have met some really nice people through going to the club.”
“I enjoy the exercise and the atmosphere. It is so nice to be in a group with people my own age, it makes me feel more confident than going to the gym, and I don’t feel out of place. I find gyms with youngsters & modern machines all very intimidating, whereas here I am fine. I would go twice a week if it was open!”
“I feel much brighter in myself & I am finding doing exercise much easier now, as I feel more supple. Before I started going I found it hard to even bend over.”
“I’ll keep going to this fitness club, I won’t give this up. It helps me keep my weight under check. Unfortunately I cannot afford to join other fitness clubs as I am a pensioner, and I find other clubs too expensive. Here it is a voluntary donation; we do not have to pay. But all who go feel so strongly about keeping it going we all choose to donate, we don’t want to lose the club.”
Again, Marion’s story demonstrates high impact. She lives on a low income and would not have access to exercise facilities otherwise. She has lost a significant amount of weight through dieting, and would be unable to maintain her current weight without regular exercise. She identifies that the group motivates her to stay fit and healthy.
“I suffer with Osteoporosis and joined the group to help my bones as recommended by my doctor. I have been coming for two years and there has been a big improvement. I was always falling and breaking bones, but haven’t had a broken bone for ages. I have also given up smoking after 40 years.”Again, Betty’s story demonstrates the benefit of regular exercise and the impact on long-term health problem.
Beneficiary commitment to the group reflects the positive environment that is created within Bognor CAN making people want to keep attending, which in turn continues to impact positively on long-term health problems. A similar outcome on a long-term health condition is described in the case study below of a participant whose involvement has also had a positive impact on their family.
“I found out about the fitness classes on a leaflet at the chemist and decided to come along and give it a try. It is fun to mix (with other people) and just to keep fit.”
“I joined to lose weight and improve overall fitness. The group has helped me very much.
The exercise I have done and with zumba is helping me to lose weight and I find it fun.”
“Since joining the group, I don’t get asthma so much anymore, I’ve lost weight and I am able to go out and play football with my son, which I wasn’t able to do before.”
Karen & Michael
“We started attending when our eldest daughter Karen was being bullied when she started at the Regis School. These were supposedly her best mates – ten of them surrounded her and beat her up. We spoke to their parents, but they didn’t do anything, so we started home tutoring and she started attending the martial arts on a Friday evening. She changed from being quiet and withdrawn to being a confident and outgoing young woman.”
“Karen didn’t want to go out, as many of the bullies lives locally. One of the girls that was bullying her saw her in the youth centre attending the martial arts session and hitting the pads as part of her practice. Word got round after that, that Karen could defend herself.”
“After her confidence was built back up, they got Karen into Felpham School, where she has been accepted. She did really well in her GCSEs and now attends Northbrook College
where she does her ‘A’ levels. She has stopped attending martial arts because of wanting to concentrate of her studies. But participating in the martial arts group has made her what she is today – an outgoing, confident person who puts people at their ease and accepts people from all backgrounds. She has made a new group of friends and it has brought out the best in her.”
“Our younger son Michael has ADHD. With ADHD you need something to concentrate on. The martial arts have provided this focus. He has now achieved a black belt, which is amazing.”
“The martial arts have really helped with Michael’s concentration. In a recent home test he got 62%, which would have been top of his class at school. Michael also helps with the younger ones who attend the martial arts group, teaching them hand-drills and kick-boxing drills. I would never have imagined that he would be able to do this.”
“The martial arts have given Michael a discipline. He gets up and does half an hour of training, does his school work, has lunch, does more school work and then does more training. His fitness level is very high and it has made him much more conscious of what he eats. This has had the knock on effect of educating us about healthy eating, so that they are able to provide healthy food.”
“We are really worried that the club might have to stop because it is expensive to run, and fundraising has become more difficult. Although well attended, the martial arts school could accommodate more people and therefore needs to attract more people paying the subsidised rate. People don’t appreciate what a major difference it makes to young people’s lives. The self- defence aspect of it means that they are confident to go out with their friends without fear, builds confidence and enables them to build a network of friends away from school. It brings out the best in people.”