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Active Nottingham wins top safety award

We’ve been recognised as world-leaders in health and safety, achieving the coveted Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Trophy 2020.

The Trophy recognises the hard work put in to ensure our customers have a safe and enjoyable experience.

After winning gold in 2019, we’ve gone one better by achieving the trophy for the Leisure Safety category.

Every year, nearly 2,000 entrants compete to achieve the highest possible accolade in the UK’s longest-running Health & Safety industry awards.

Julia Small, RoSPA’s Head of Qualifications, Awards and Events, explains:

“The RoSPA Awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK, but it receives entries from organisations around the world, making it one of the most sought-after global accolades in health and safety.”

The majority of awards are non-competitive and mark achievement at merit, bronze, silver and gold levels. While several awards are given out in each category, there is only one category Trophy given… and Active Nottingham got it!

When Active Nottingham leisure centres reopen, you can attend safe in the knowledge that we are officially the safest option for leisure.

And while we wait, why not try a free home workout?

This Girl Can returns to Nottingham

This Girl Can believes that there’s no right way to get active.

If it gets your heart rate up, it counts, and we want more women to find what’s right for them.

Since This Girl Can launched, nearly 3 million women have been inspired to get involved in physical activity, but it isn’t stopping there. With a new drive in Nottingham comes a fresh approach and the ambition to reach all areas of Nottingham.

We welcome Charm, our new Community Motivator for This Girl Can Nottingham.

Charm’s role is getting Nottingham active, and she’s been proving how good she is at it through the Covid-19 lockdown, getting whole neighbourhoods and even the Police moving their bodies (at a safe social distance).

To connect with Charm and other Nottingham women on their activity journey, find inspiration to be active, or share your journey (you can post as much or as little as you want) visit the ‘This Girl Can Nottingham’ Facebook group.

Women come in all shapes and sizes with all abilities and from all backgrounds. Some of us are expert sportswomen, some of us really aren’t. It doesn’t matter. We’re just happy that you’re getting active. If you’re still not sure that you can, we’re here to help you to figure out the way of getting active that’s right for you.

Many women are put off taking part in physical activity due to a fear of judgement, or because they have other priorities, often putting others first.

This Girl Can is about sharing real stories of women getting active or playing sport in the way that’s right for them, in all its sweaty, red-faced, jiggly glory.

We never judge, and we don’t care what other people think.

Go on, join our This Girl Can Nottingham Facebook Group!

GOGA success at Notts Getting Active Together Awards

Get Out Get Active (GOGA) Nottingham celebrated a successful night at the Notts Getting Active Together Awards!

On Thursday 5 March 2020, Active Notts hosted their second Notts Getting Active Together Awards at Lakeside Arts.

It was a fantastic evening that saw both the Get Out Get Active Nottingham project and project participants and partners win a host of awards celebrating their active journey!

Two Swim for Health participants, Glyn Plummer and Jayne Morton, stole the show winning the first two awards. Glyn was the winner of the ‘Change 4 Life’ category, awarded to an individual who has dramatically increased their activity levels over the last twelve months.

Glyn has cerebral palsy and minor Autism and uses a wheelchair. Over the last few years, Glyn has gone from doing no exercise to becoming a regular at the GOGA Swim for Health sessions, attending several times a week and building meaningful relationships with the fantastic Poolside Helpers.

Next up was the This Girl Can award, awarded to a female who has dramatically increased their activity levels over the last twelve months, won by second the Swim for Health participant of the night, Jayne Morton.

Jayne had a stroke in April 2018 which caused her to spend three months in hospital. In April 2019, Jayne and her husband Clive started swimming at the Swim for Health sessions at Southglade Leisure Centre. At these sessions Jayne was also supported by receptionist Annmarie and Swim for Health Poolside Helper Jenna.

Jayne’s progress has been fantastic!

She has progressed from needing to be completely supported in the water to beginning to swim independently. Jayne has also started to walk a little again thanks to her hard work in the pool. Jayne also undertook a sponsored swim to raise money and awareness for the Stroke Association, achieving an amazing 31 lengths.

Other winners of the night included local partner Flo Skatepark for the Active Place award and Evolve Boxing with the Live Team, an initiative developed through the GOGA project, for the Project/Initiative/Innovation of the Year award.

Finally, the GOGA project was recognised as the winner of the Inclusive Project of the Year award: acknowledging three years of amazing participants and fantastic partners across the community promoting fun and inclusive activity for all.

If you would like to be more active through fun, inclusive activity, follow ‘Get Out Get Active Nottingham’ on Facebook to find out about all the latest opportunities and ideas to remain active at home.

You can also read more about both Jayne and Glyn’s stories.

Start small


Hope you’re all keeping safe and well. Let me introduce myself: my name is Claire and I’m a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor, founder of the Mind Map project and the Anxious Exercise Club and programme lead for the Tricky to Talk programme at Nottingham Forest Community Trust.


I also live with a long-term anxiety condition, which I manage day to day. Back in 2015, I had a relapse, which made leaving my home very difficult. Some days, it took all my strength just to walk to the car to go to work – and that didn’t leave me very productive for the rest of the day! I knew that activity and exercise was good for me and that it would ease the symptoms of my mental ill health. But the anxious voice in my head was a lot louder, telling me the outside was scary and there was no point in even trying…

Towards the end of 2015, I became more and more unwell, with long term pain, muscle stiffness and overwhelming fatigue. I was referred to the hospital and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I was given guidance on how to manage my condition and one of the overwhelming pieces of advice was to do more activity. I knew I had to listen to the doctors, but I also still had the anxious voice.

So, I made a compromise. I walked to the post box and back.

It was about 500 yards and I started doing it once a day. Then I walked to the church, just next to the post box, and then on to the bench. Every week, I added a small chunk onto my walk, and it didn’t feel unmanageable. Even the anxious voice quietened down. I began a circuit each evening, I simply did three or four rounds of the circuit.

This simple activity allowed me to rebuild my life. It wasn’t instant, there wasn’t a miracle cure. I still live with a long-term anxiety condition, which I manage each day. But I do experience the benefits activity can bring to my life and how it helps me to manage my anxiety.

The reason I’m writing about this today is because I’m finding myself in a very similar situation as we live in the current lockdown situation. I’ve found exercising very difficult due to fear and anxiety. So, I wanted to take some time to talk about getting active while living with a mental health condition and while living in lockdown.

Today, I went for a small walk.

It took some bargaining with the anxious voice, but I felt able to get up a little earlier and take a few steps outside. It wasn’t about distance or the amount of steps I completed; it was about breathing and feeling the sunshine.

It was about letting my whole body know that while these are extremely frightening times, these few small steps can benefit our mental wellbeing and help us to get through it.


There’s lots of information out there currently about how we can get active in our homes, which is fantastic, but it can also be a bit overwhelming. I hope this post, and future ones, will let you know you are not alone.

Looking for more inspiration?

We’ve got all sorts to help keep you moving while our leisure centres are closed.

See the resources

The sponsored swim that had us all in tears

Jayne, a regular at Southglade Leisure Centre, recently completed a thirty-length swim in aid of the Stroke Association – a feat that few healthy individuals could complete. Yet, Jayne recently suffered a life-changing stroke, leaving her with limited mobility and a long road to recovery. Enter the Swim for Health sessions, where Jenna (one of our swimming instructors) worked closely with Jayne to help in her rehabilitation – working to regain her strength as well as independence.

I arrived at Southglade on November 11th 2019 to interview Jayne. The atmosphere in the Leisure Centre was beautiful – friends and family had gathered together in support. They cheered and clapped as Jayne tackled length after length, and by the final lap, there were definitely a few watery eyes.

After the swim there were posters and banners carefully hung on the walls, and there were biscuits and coffee cups placed upon tables. People were smiling and laughing – excitedly chattering about how well Jayne had done. You could almost smell the sheer adoration and pride in the air. Sally, one of Jayne’s physiotherapists, smiled as she told me, “Swimming has been a game-changer for Jayne. After her stroke she initially found walking very difficult. She even found sitting up very difficult – she was having to be hoisted – so what she’s achieved is incredible. She lacks confidence in walking on dry land, but in the water, she says she feels free. Swimming has had huge benefits for her confidence, generally. And she’s able to get fit and exercise in water in a way that she can’t on land.”

You could tell that Jayne’s swimming instructor, Jenna, was extremely fond of her too. They would poke fun at each other and make jokes in a way that reminded me of a mother-daughter relationship. When I spoke to Jenna, she couldn’t sing Jayne’s praises enough:

“When we first met her, she couldn’t hold herself in the water – she needed three people to support her body and to keep her steady so that her face wasn’t going under. But she’s made an amazing improvement – she is fantastic. She’s done thirty-one lengths today! She did about three in her first session. It’s great. It’s great to see people grow and change and get help in recovering. Jayne’s part of the family now.”

Jenna then went on to say the same as Sally – that swimming has been paramount for Jayne and that it makes her feel free. She started laughing and also told me that Jayne enjoys a natter in the sauna with fellow Southglade-goers after her sessions.

Jayne’s husband Clive was around for moral support, too. You could clearly see his adoration for her and it was clear that Jayne’s rehabilitation journey had been a team effort between her, Clive and the lovely staff at Southglade.

When interviewing Jayne herself, it was heart-warming to see her talk about the centre with such joy. Read her interview below:

How long have you been coming to Southglade Leisure Centre?

About 8 months!

How has going to the Swim for Health sessions helped with your stroke rehabilitation journey?

It’s helped me to exercise and it’s helped my muscles, mobility and confidence. It’s been good!

And how have the staff been? How have they helped you?

Gooood! There are really nice staff.

What’s the best thing about them?

Jenna! She’s funny. I’m always laughing.

When you first started swimming, were you nervous?

Yes. There were people I didn’t know!

What’s the best bit about Southglade?

Swimming! No… the sauna!

What would you say to anyone else who has had a major health problem? What would be your encouraging words?

Swimming! Try it! Have a goal and do it! It helps – my pain’s gone and my heavy body is gone. It makes me feel fabulous and free.

What made you do the sponsored swim today?

I wanted to help people raise money to help the people who helped me.

When you saw everyone here today, how did you feel?

Fabulous! Surprised!

Now that you’ve finished the swim, how do you feel?

Good… amazing! It was hard work though! I did thirty-one lengths and the maximum amount I’ve done before is sixteen.

Meet Glyn: “Swimming makes me determined to do more”

Glynn Swim for Health

From doing no exercise to attending multiple Swim for Health sessions a week, Glyn has come a long way in a short space of time!

Glyn, who has Cerebral Palsy and Minor Autism and uses a wheelchair, has seen a remarkable improvement in his mobility and strength as well as a vast improvement in his mental health. He enjoys being able to get out of the house while doing something different.

Since finding out about Swim for Health, Glyn, aged 25 from Sherwood, has started swimming multiple times a week at different Swim for Health sessions.

“I started swimming mid-late summer 2018 after Dad & Rikki realised that there were Swim for Health sessions that would be great for me. I went from no swimming, to attending one session a week, to swimming constantly.

Obviously I really enjoy getting my body working. The physical benefits are really important but so are the benefits to my own well-being. I moan if we’re late for swimming or if life gets in the way of going! The sessions get me out of the house and doing something different.

I can now walk in and out of the pool rather than using the hoist. I’m also able to walk (aided, slightly) to and from the car, which I wasn’t able to do before! I’ve started sleeping better too, which gives me loads more energy! I have more strength in my upper and lower body which definitely makes doing things easier.

During the session I feel really happy and it makes me feel strong knowing that I’m actually able to do it. I get really stressed if I can’t come – swimming makes me determined to do more!

Having support is very important; swimming wouldn’t have been possible without my family to bring me here and support me in the pool.

The Poolside Helpers are also really important to me. Without Sharon I would never have reached 1,000m and without Ruth I would have never achieved my 1,500m. I would say the pool helpers are all very considerate and helpful, and super friendly and without them I wouldn’t have achieved what I’ve achieved!

To other disabled people who are thinking about being more active and taking up some form of exercise/sport but are not sure, I would say think about what you want to do first and just do it to the best of your ability. Find something you enjoy and take it at your own pace!”

To take a look at the Swim for Health Sessions and decide whether it’s for you, click to view the leaflet below.


Allyson’s Story: “I wanted to stay active and help others”

Allyson Irvine


“I contracted Meningococcal in 2014 and was really poorly, then I got sepsis and lost my legs and fingers. In the hospital rehab centre I went to the gym and did exercises which helped strengthen my muscles but when I was discharged from hospital I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to stay active and help others, so I now work as a volunteer at the Mobility Centre City Hospital and as an Activity Advisor for Limbpower.

“I completed a Nordic walking course at Clifton Campus and am one of only four amputees who have done it in the country.  It’s great for core strength and the tops of your legs and arms. It’s not difficult and is quite relaxing.

“I run a little coffee morning support group where other amputees meet and I’ve also welcomed people affected by other illnesses such as cancer, strokes and diabetes. I help lead the way and share as much information as possible about what’s available in the area. I explain to them it’s about doing what you can do. A lot of people live on their own, so it’s a social thing too.

“One member of the group, Gary hadn’t swum for 30 years so we took him and some other who wanted to try swimming to Djanogly Leisure Centre – he loves it and wants to try the gym now.”

Allyson and Gary feature in the It’s For Me campaign trailer, which is aimed at showcasing the accessible facilities at the City Council’s Leisure Centres.

Stand up to mental illnesses

Jo @ Kickback club

Jo set up the Kickback Club after having first hand experience of living with a mental illness.

I was admitted into hospital for depression in 2016. Yet, when I was discharged, I actually felt more unwell due to the trauma of being hospitalised. That was my first episode of mental illness. I found conversations and being around others difficult as the only topic on my mind was my illness and the medication I was taking. But I missed people. I still wanted to hang out but not have to say or do anything.

It all started when I asked the owner of the café on Haydn Road if he would be interested in me starting a club and he said yes! The first session was just me and my friends. Then I created a flyer and other people started coming along. Three years later we have a stable group, some people have come and gone.

For those who want to, we now do a walk at the beginning of the night which has brought more people to the club. We also do jigsaw puzzles, play games and have colouring exercises.

I have had contact with a number of mental health services, from inpatient and crisis teams, to step four counselling and charity support.

I personally found OT support in my return to work – and counselling from local charity Harmless – invaluable. Harmless helped above all others, allowing me to learn to cope with distressing intrusive thoughts, helping me to develop an understanding of my experiences, giving me coping skills and teaching me self-compassion.

As well as supporting others, the Kickback Club benefits me personally; it gets me out of the house, it makes me feel like I am doing something and it maintains a social network that might have otherwise dropped off. It has opened up new social connections and being responsible for the group keeps me going!

It’s opened up a dialogue with other people who have had similar experiences. It really helps when there is understanding and empathy, you can form an instant bond.

The Facebook page @RecoveryCrew advertises Kickback Club, and shares other local groups and activities, useful articles, and creative approaches to developing dialogue about mental illness, including cartoons, podcasts and poetry.

The club is supported by a local textile artist, Dawn Abey, who donates part of the proceeds from her “kit bags”, which are self-care bags that are available on Etsy and in Green Emporium on Haydn road.

The group’s logo and profile picture were created by local artist Katie Abey (mother and daughter team) who also encourage conversations around mental health on social media.


The Kickback Club is described as a club for people who are struggling with their mental health in Sherwood, Nottingham. Friends are welcome and it’s a safe space to relax, write, doodle, play games or just be.
They meet on the first Monday of every month at 7.30pm – 8.30pm in Divine Coffee House, Haydn Road, Sherwood. Meet outside at 6.30pm for a walk (if you want to).

Life begins at 40 for Tony

Tony Bicker Case Study Ken Martin Leisure Centre

From living in a tent in the woods to being employed by the City Council as a Fitness Advisor, life really does begin at 40 for Tony!

Tony who has been profoundly deaf since the age of seven, was referred to Nottingham Community Housing Association through the Deaf Society two years ago. His Support Worker Pete explains, “Through no fault of his own, Tony found himself living rough after being kicked out of his shared housing by his housemates. Pete worked alongside Tony to make sure he was receiving the right support and ended up getting sole tenancy of the property. “It meant I could see my daughter again”, says Tony.

Although Tony is no stranger to a gym, having trained on and off throughout his life; the experience of homelessness left him feeling defeated.

“When the opportunity came up to access the leisure facilities in a free three month trial, it was like a light bulb moment for me. I suffer from anxiety when I’m out and about so I started to use the sauna to wind down or would let off some steam in the gym where I’m surrounded by my medication – my dumbells!

“My dad was diagnosed with Cancer and I lost him in October. I’ve learnt how to talk about my feelings and share my own experiences of mental health disorders and cancer with others – so I’ve also gained some counselling skills too!

“I trained to become an instructor a while ago but missed out on a qualification by a couple of points. When the Instructability course was mentioned to me, it seemed like another chance and meant I could transform my troubles from grief into drive.

Tony admits it was difficult to go back to a learning environment when he started training at Clifton Leisure Centre but found it helped his mental health and built his confidence. “Putting yourself in uncomfortable situations helps you to grow mentally, which is just as important as physical fitness.

“I had a great tutor who waited for me to write up my notes and gave me visual handouts to help with the learning process so it was a bit of a blessing.

“After I finished my training I had a three month placement as a volunteer but there was no guarantee of a job at the end of the 12 weeks, so I could have stopped, but I continued to volunteer.

“I’m on the payroll now but I still keep my voluntary shifts – I’m paid spiritually for that!”

“The best thing about it is I can go up to and talk to anyone now, that wouldn’t have happened before. I’ve got disabled clients being referred to me. Being able to relate to and help others – it makes everything I’ve been through all worth it.”

Tony is also having a huge positive impact on others. When the Instructability scheme reopened, he referred people to it who he thought would also benefit. “Rob doesn’t like new environments and would have panic attacks”, Tony explains, “so I would help diffuse situations when I realised he was about to have an attack by taking him outside and getting him to breathe to open up his airways.”

He is also getting some sign-ups from patients being discharged from Highbury Hospital. “One of the guys I’ve been helping is thinking about becoming a Personal Trainer.”

Tony cites the support he’s received from the team at Ken Martin as being a key part of his success.

“The team have been really understanding and have allowed me to swap shifts when I’ve needed to because of my mental health and were really flexible in allowing me to complete my 1-2-1 in house qualification.

“It’s very difficult to see an opportunity when you are depressed or get anxious,” says Tony. “But there’s lots of things you can do. Talk to people around you, you might find someone in a similar boat. Walking can help by giving you thinking space. Oh and anyone with a dog, it’s like a gym on legs!

“Finding a gym buddy will help motivate you but group activities is another option worth trying. Classes get your endorphins going and you push yourself a bit harder. I think routine is important, but don’t beat yourself up. Plus, sometimes it’s just about coming along, just being here is an achievement.

“People can have a negative view of the gym but Ken Martin and other council leisure centres are so friendly. We even adjust the music to make sure we cater for different groups depending on the time of day.”

Tony added, “For some it’s a social experience, others it’s a lifestyle choice. Whatever the reason, it’s important to look after your heart and general well-being and just be happy.”



Community activator with big ambitions to make exercise more inclusive

Kelly Evans Community Activator

A trial partnership is helping up-skill Nottingham City Council employees to make exercise in Nottingham City more inclusive.

Community Activators have been working across the city for the past sixteen months, signposting people with a disability or long term illness into activities in the community or at one of the city’s eight leisure centres. One of these people, Kelly Evans, has embarked on a newly launched Level 3 Qualification delivered by HFE, the UK’s leading provider of personal training courses and fitness qualifications.

The Level 3 Award in Programming and Supervising Exercise with Disabled Clients, or simply Level 3 Exercise for Disabled Clients, is nationally recognised and awarded by one of the industry’s oldest awarding bodies, YMCA Awards. This means there’s a wealth of opportunity for Kelly to use this course up and down the country .

As one of the very few providers in the country who deliver this course, HFE are well placed to support Nottingham City Council in this new venture to up-skill their staff and serve a demographic that is currently greatly under-represented. Reports suggest that 1 in 5 people in the UK has a disability, which equates to nearly 11 million people. Unfortunately, only 18% of disabled adults undertake physical activity lasting longer than 30 minutes a week and this is compared to 38% of non-disabled adults.

Disability sport is highly important to Nottingham. Developing disability sport is a significant priority in the city’s Sport and Physical Activity Strategy (2015-2019); outlined in this is the aspiration to become ‘the fastest growing city for disability sports (physical activity) participation’.

To engage more people living with a disability or long term health condition, Nottingham City Council have taken bold steps in improving accessibility to leisure centres and enhancing the existing swim, gym and fitness offers to be more inclusive. To add to this, leisure centre staff have also taken part in some entry level disability confidence training to enable them to better advise customers who might require additional support.

Clearly, even more can and should be done to encourage disabled people to exercise and that’s why HFE have partnered with Nottingham City Council’s Active Nottingham to help up-skill staff and provide even more inclusive opportunities across their eight leisure centres.

Speaking about the potential of this partnership, Colin Eley said: ‘Working with HFE means we’re able to equip our staff with a more comprehensive knowledge-base to better support people accessing our service. We aim to empower citizens living with a disability or long term condition to feel confident when accessing our services while forming sustainable physical activity habits.”

Kelly, whose Community Activator role covers the Bulwell, Bulwell Forest, Bestwood and Basford wards, is the first Active Nottingham member of staff to take part in the new initiative, and she outlined how excited she was to start a new fitness journey:

“Having always been involved in fitness and sport I am very aware of the mental and physical benefits that exercise can have on people, regardless of where they currently are in their fitness journey.

Kelly Evans Running

“I am currently working with individuals who want to become more physically active but who find their long term conditions or disabilities a barrier. For them this means sessions that are perceived as a ‘mainstream’ exercise for all are not always suitable for their needs.

“During this course I am looking forward to learning new skills and broadening my knowledge base so I can better support individuals who have a broader variety of needs with exercise . I am hoping to be able to share this experience and outcomes from the course with other members of my team, so we can adapt and provide a more suitable/focused service for individuals with long term conditions or disabilities in the future.”

The council has just launched a new campaign – It’s For Me – to provide information about the accessibility, suitability and affordability of leisure provision in the city, reassuring citizens that they will be adequately provided for when they visit the council’s leisure facilities and take part in activities.