Health and fitness drive leaps beyond lockdown

This story was published 10 July 2020

Craven residents have continued to take steps to improve their health and wellbeing during lockdown with the support of the area’s adult weight management service.

Hannah Strorey

The service had to suspend face-to-face activities and assessments because of the pandemic, so, instead has offered a remote service. Advisors have kept in touch with clients through a weekly wellbeing call. Clients have had access to online exercise classes and been sent recipes and links to support mental wellbeing.

In Craven, the free service is called Healthy Lifestyles Weight Management Programme. It is commissioned by North Yorkshire County Council and delivered by Craven District Council.

Jo Hardiman, from Skipton, is full of praise for the programme and advisors Hannah Storey and Mark Hampton.

“I’m absolutely over the moon with the way the programme has worked for me,” said Jo. “I’ve tried to lose weight several times, but this is the only thing that’s worked for me. I’ve really enjoyed becoming much more active.

“Hannah has been brilliant – she’s so encouraging and I love the circuits that she showed us, which I’m now doing daily. She’s also been sending new ideas on a regular basis on our WhatsApp group, so we all still feel very supported.

“I’ve found the remote offer really useful. Whilst it was obviously preferable to be able to have our group meetings together, I’ve been able to continue the programme and feel I’m still making good progress. Hannah’s weekly phone call is also a great motivator. She’s definitely keeping me on track. Altogether, I still feel very supported and I’m really appreciative of still having the support available in such strange times.

Hannah said: “It’s been a pleasure having Jo on the course, she has been motivated right from the start. During the group sessions, Jo was an encouraging member of the group, she engaged and shared ideas and always enjoyed the exercise. As our sessions moved to a remote service, Jo continued to be really positive, hitting her initial target at 12 weeks and continuing to lose weight through the maintenance stage.”

Charlotte Robson, also from Skipton, struggled initially with carrying on the programme under lockdown, but has now made it work for her.

She said: “It has helped me in so many ways. I'm thinking more about what I eat, looking at food labels and really trying to balance my food better. It's changed the way I think about food for my children, too. The weight loss is one thing but the re-education and awareness of what I'm eating has been something I didn’t expect.

“I really like my group and am in touch with them through Facebook to see how they are doing. The group help motivates me, too.

“It has been so hard to stay on track in lockdown. I eat or bake – or both – when I feel stressed or upset and this situation has triggered all of those emotions. I felt so gutted at the beginning of the lockdown, as it was going so well.

“Mark’s phone calls have really helped me to stay on track. I think if it wasn’t for those calls I probably would have fallen off the wagon and put all the weight back on. It just gives you that incentive each week. I’ve now set my own target, based on another five per cent loss for the next 12 weeks so I can stay on track.”

Advisor Mark recognises that initially Charlotte struggled in lockdown. He said: “Like many people, she also found family life under lockdown initially quite unsettling, which had a negative impact on her diet and exercise levels.

“However, with great support from her family, she was able to turn this around. In our weekly calls, I could see her becoming more positive and starting to make real progress. Because she has such a positive mindset now, I have every confidence that she will hit this new target.”

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said: “The service has been really responsive in supporting people wherever possible. Credit goes to the advisors, and particularly to the people who have stuck with the programme during a difficult time and are now enjoying the benefits.”

Councillor David Ireton, Craven District Council’s Lead Member for Resilient Communities, said: “We know how important health and wellbeing is to our residents, particularly during these difficult times.

“It’s fantastic that our team based at Craven Leisure has been able to continue helping people to improve their health and lifestyle, even during lockdown. I’m proud of the staff and the residents who have worked so hard to achieve great results.”

The free service is commissioned by the County Council and delivered in each of the county’s seven districts by district councils or NHS partners. It offers eligible people up to 24 weeks of support to lose weight and improve their health and lifestyle. Pandemic restrictions mean the service cannot take new referrals at the moment, but people can register their interest by contacting the provider in their area. Details are available here. It is hoped that the service will open to referrals from GPs shortly and there will be a phased approach to reopening elements of the service.