“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.
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.
“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.
Jack, aged 25, who has been visually impaired from birth, travels to the Nottingham Tennis Centre once a week to play Visually Impaired Tennis and train for Regional and National tournaments around the Country.
“Give it a go, you might be better than you think.”
The Friday evening session that he attends from 6-7pm is open to all ages and abilities, with the youngest player being just ten years old.
You don’t have to be a member to play and you don’t need any expensive equipment either, as the centre provides rackets and an “audible” foam ball, which is attached to a bell to help you find its location.
In many ways, the game is the same as the national game played by the likes of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, it’s just played on a Junior Orange court with a lower net.
Jack and his fellow players are allowed one to three bounces of the ball, depending on their visual impairment, of which there are five categories: B1 (blind) through to B5 (almost fully sighted). Jack falls under B3, and so gets two bounces of the ball.
“It’s great fun and I’d love more people to play as it would give more variety at the tournaments I play in.”
Jack was just four years old when he started playing tennis after his Dad searched for a sport that they could play together. He’s really keen to create a legacy and encourage others to try it out too, at least once.
He’s so keen he even offers to mentor anyone who’s nervous about doing something new – offering to meet them at the Tennis Centre to welcome them and put them at ease.
For the last five years, Jack has regularly travelled to play both singles and doubles matches competitively in tournaments at Loughborough, Birmingham, Newcastle and London. His proudest achievement so far has been his recent reaching of the quarter finals, but he claims it’s not about winning – it’s about taking part and being active.
“There’s always someone better than the person at the top, they just may not have started playing yet.”
Besides playing tennis and studying for his PHD at Derby University, Jack also loves walking and enjoys playing chess – something he modestly admits to being fairly good at, as he was once within the world’s top 7000 players.
Visually Impaired Tennis is just one of our specialist sessions. Visit our Disability Activities page for other activities you can take part in.
If you live in Nottingham City and have a registered disability you can save up to 50% discount off activities, so join Active Nottingham today!