Barrow project improves health of entire community

Meditation and standing pilates with therapist Clare Harris. Pic: Lindsey Dickings
Meditation and standing pilates with therapist Clare Harris. Pic: Lindsey Dickings
10 March 2017 12:11PM

Scores of residents across Barrow are benefiting from a unique scheme launched to improve the health of the entire town.

The Barrow Wellness Project was launched on Walney in October to provide activities to promote general wellbeing in a social setting.

The scheme, created by Burnett Edgar Medical Centre GP Dr Farhan Amin, has offered free sessions in complimentary therapies such as yoga, reiki and pilates, as well as offering the chance to chat and make new friends in a bid to combat social isolation.

Now, those who have taken part are training to run their own sessions so more people across Barrow can take part.

Dr Amin said he was delighted with the success of the Wellness Project so far which has helped more than 130 people.

"It has been incredibly popular so far and people are creating their own support network of friends through it," he added.

"The health benefits are huge - we know that being able to get out and socialise impacts upon people's physical health.

"The beauty of this scheme is that people are now training to be able to deliver the sessions themselves.

"It means the wellness scheme is not only sustainable, but we can begin to roll it out to the wider community."

The sessions take place on Tuesday mornings at The Cottage, in Central Drive, Walney.

The initiative was launched following conversations with members of the public who all explained that happiness improves their ability to manage their own illness within the community.

A similar scheme has been set up in the south west of the country to allow GPs to prescribe a dose of wellness to patients whose physical health and wellbeing could benefit from complimentary therapies in a social setting.

However, anyone can attend the Barrow Wellness Project to ensure it is accessible to all.

The activities and therapies were initially available thanks to facilitators from external organisations including Christine Kay Wellness and the World Health Innovation Summit.

As part of the second phase of the programme, the external facilitators are training local people so that they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to deliver the sessions themselves to fellow members of the community.

Dr Amin, added: “The wellness days give the people of Barrow a place to engage with the community, have coffee and lunch together, and lead and participate in various activities that help them achieve happiness and independence.

"We know some of the people who attend are now going for lunch together independently of the group.

"They are also looking out for each other. If someone doesn't attend one week, they check up on them to make sure they are ok.

"This is the start of a community network, it's wonderful to see it working."

Betty Ducie, community member from Walney who attends the Furness Wellness Days said: “Its good fun, it`s exercise and we get to meet people.”

Anne Cottam, who also attends the days, said: “It’s very good exercise. I hadn’t been able to touch my toes in years until I started coming to these classes!”

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