Wandsworth Council has had considerable success in introducing sport and activity into the lives of middle aged and older people who may have fallen out of the habit.
The council runs two different programmes – Active Lifestyles and Fit 4 Life: Active Lifestyles runs during the working week and is aimed at retired people over 50, with classes including Tai Chi, fitness to music, and chair based exercise classes. Meanwhile, Fit 4 Life is aimed at over-45s who are still in work and includes activities such as golf, yoga and aerobics.
“We have been very pleased with the success of both programmes and with the number of people we have participating,” says Alana Collins, Physical Activity Coordinator for Older People at Wandsworth Council, “I think our marketing has been very effective in attracting new members and keeping existing members informed about new classes. We have a database of existing and potential participants and now have 4000 people on it, after an initial target of 3000, so we’re very pleased! It has been instrumental in us involving older people in the area in sport and exercise.”
The database has been built up in a variety of ways – contact information has been taken from other council initiatives that target older people, such as a heart health campaigns, and posters advertising the two programmes are put up in leisure and community centres across the borough, encouraging people to get in touch. As soon as someone is logged on the database, a directory listing all activity in both programmes is sent out, and is followed up by regular updates and a newsletter.
The Wandsworth team are determined not to sit on their laurels and will look to computers to boost participant numbers in the future: “We perhaps underestimated the amount of older people who have access to the internet and although we do have a web presence it is not very user-friendly,” says Alana, “this is definitely something that we will be looking to develop more in the future.”