Ageing can bring challenges of isolation and loneliness, lack of confidence and fewer opportunities to get involved in community activities. We help older people to help themselves through Active Plus – Active Ageing. Our courses are a great mixture of problem solving activities, information sharing, laughter and fun! Older people and the military veterans who facilitate the courses also share their own personal experiences, backgrounds and passions and work together to make a difference for themselves, each-other and the wider community.
Courses run for half a day a week for an initial 6 week period. In addition to regular team-building and problem solving activities, experts deliver lively sessions covering fire-safety, personal safety, first-aid and CPR, IT awareness, health and well-being. We gather feedback from course participants at the end of each session and can tailor the content to the needs and interests of the group.
Most of all, people enjoy the opportunity to meet regularly, make new friends, laugh and have fun.
In Cornwall Active Plus Communities is helping people to get active and connected in their communities. Funded by the Big Lottery, Active Plus Communities will help 400 people aged 50 and over in 20 towns across the county over a four year period. The project started in April 2015, with the first Active Plus Communities group coming together in Falmouth on 15 June 2015.
Active Plus Communities is about confidence, connections and community. Injured military veterans from Active Plus and groups of people aged 50 and over meet for half a day each week to try new things, share experiences, learn new skills and have fun.
The first six weeks are a mix of activities, information sessions discussions and learning practical skills like first aid, ending with a celebration event. After that groups continue to meet with their military veteran mentor for a year and can develop according to the wishes and needs of the group. We encourage and support all our groups to get involved in their local community whether that is through fundraising, community projects, volunteering or giving feedback to local service providers.
In 2015, you might have heard us on Radio Cornwall talking about loneliness and isolation, or about Older Peoples Day and the fantastic Silver Sports Day our group in Falmouth organised? Or you may have seen the news coverage of our groups in St.Austell and Camborne who raised over £1,100 for MacMillan Cancer.
In 2016 we started up in 5 new communities; Redruth, Penryn. Treverbyn, Truro and Launceston. We’ve also shared our experience of Active Plus Communities in Cornwall with colleagues in Plymouth, where 4 of the Falmouth group visited a pilot project that we are running in Devonport to see if there is a need for Active Ageing support in the area. Read more about it here
We celebrated a year of delivery by returning to our roots (well almost) with the launch of our Penryn group on 4th May
Each of the Active Plus Communities groups has its own story to tell and all are different. As part of our evaluation we ask people from all walks of life to meet the participants, gather some stories and write up their thoughts. First up is advertising expert Dave Meneer, author, co-founder of Wolf Rock, former CEO of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall and marketing guru at the Eden Project. Here are Dave’s thoughts on the Community Information Day organised by the group in Helston.
Helston Community Information Day
“Doesn’t sound a bundle of laughs but was highly entertaining and informative. It was the group’s idea and of course with a little assistance from Active Plus and others combined with the excellent facility at The Clies it all came together nicely. Along the way over the last few months Active plus have introduced the gang to all sorts of activities and people and the group felt that bringing them all together in one day might benefit others. And it did. A meeting of a whole range of people and organizations that help make communities tick. Didn’t someone once call it “Big Society”? Nice idea and it can come to life impressively when the ingredients are pulled together and experts and volunteers can show their wares.
So we had the Fire Brigade, Healthwatch Cornwall, Citizen’s Advice Cornwall and Community Energy Plus who know all there is to know about smart energy usage about the home, a Health Trainer and various others. The knowledge in the room was astonishing and the various clever deals on offer were impressive too – from rock bottom price single cookers which cook “slow and low” (they’d bought just the 600!) to free long life smoke alarms – last for ten years and then they’ll replace them – free! No I didn’t know that either.
I was brought up in a pub and still love ‘em but they are getting few and far between and not quite what they were if I’m honest. But I remember what a fount of knowledge and expertise they were – if you wanted to find out about something or find a “man who can” or even get a good deal on something it was all there in the pub. Educational, helpful, smart.
And this was just like that really – without a pint!
So I learnt about those free smoke detectors and when I moaned that they’re just too damned sensitive I was put right – “toast proof” nowadays see? They have a little heat sensor built in too these days so that they don’t cry wolf so often over bacon oversizzling – they’re heat seeking as well as smoke alarmist! Clever. And I learnt about closing all the doors in the house at night as another fire resistant move – you should see the photographs of what can happen…or not, if you do.
And the energy people taught me about energy meters and what fun you can have keeping an eye on what your house is getting through and where the money goes. And the health trainer wouldn’t let me go – he knew a likely suspect when he saw one, though I don’t smoke so that took the wind out of his sails. This isn’t the kind of personal trainer who cracks the whip over you on the rowing machine before you go into the office but he will tailor make a programme of sensible stuff just for you – fitness, diet, blood pressure, diabetes – you name it. One on one or in a group – the social and mental side often as important as the physical. He can wean you off chocolate too! And if he doesn’t do it he knows that man who can – signposting is the word in the jargon. Just like the fellah down the pub who will step up if he overhears your conversation and point you in the right direction – in the nicest possible way.
The group had invented this day, Active Plus had helped bring it about and had sorted a little seedcorn funding to make it happen and there it was. Doing what it said on the tin – an information day – and a splendidly informative one too. A group with a combined age of a thousand bringing their experience and ingenuity and enthusiasm to work on a wider audience of all ages and getting the right people in the room to pass on all that they knew. They should be happening up and down the land.”
Our Helston Group went on to link up with the local museum in a project funded by the Armed Forces Covenant that celebrated the links between the town and the military base, RNAS Culdrose. Our crafty lot had a session with an artist and created a silk screen print of their memories. Check out their story in our news section
Also in the news our Truro group developed a community project from the inspiration and confidence they gained through a First Aid and CPR Awareness session on their 6 week course. They discovered that nobody knew where the Community Defibrillators were located in Truro so set out on a fact-finding tour. They mapped all of the Defibs and gave this information to the City Council and Tourist Information Centre who included it in their resident and visitor information. Read their story here