Loreburn Housing Association’s Fit for Life initiative, which was launched in 2022, was designed to tackle the impact Covid-19 has had on their tenants by reducing social isolation, improving physical and mental well-being, and strengthening their Later Living communities.
Set to inspire and enable Later Living tenants to live life to the full, the project has accessibility, flexibility, and collaboration at its heart.
Over the past year, tenants in Later Living schemes have been given a helping hand in staying fit and active thanks to some fun-filled exercise sessions.
After securing a funding boost of £59k from the Scottish Government’s Communities Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, Loreburn Housing Association were able to appoint a dedicated Volunteer & Activities Coordinator to oversee the service.
Both residents and staff alike have expressed their enthusiasm for the initiative. Bryony McCulloch, Volunteer & Activities Coordinator, said: “It’s been wonderful to see residents participating in new activities and really enjoying themselves.
“Throughout the last year, the association were able to provide meaningful and engaging activities for residents, which in turn has led to increased socialisation, cognitive stimulation, and overall wellbeing.”
The programme has been devised to engage different – often underrepresented – groups in fun activities that are designed to enable more people to stay active, for longer.
Tenants are now enjoying a range of physical activities, such as chair-based exercises, which are designed to improve mobility, balance, and flexibility, as well as reduce the risk of falls and other injuries.
In addition, they are also taking part in emotional well-being activities such as gardening, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve mood and self-esteem.
As well as organising the sessions, Bryony has been recruiting and training volunteers to work with Later Living tenants, helping them to reconnect and energise their communities.
The training and support offered to volunteers ensure that activities are engaging and person-centred, meaning that they are equipped with the knowledge and skills tailored to the needs of Later Living tenants.
Jordan Williamson, Boccia volunteer, said: “The weekly Boccia sessions in Dumfries have become increasingly popular – we’re seeing new faces every week and the game is thoroughly enjoyed by all.”
A variety of exciting sessions are currently in the planning stages, including walking football and chair-based yoga – the latter of which will be delivered via Zoom, allowing the activity to reach all seven developments across the region and enabling tenants to interact from the comfort of their own homes.
The initiative also provides short-term support for vulnerable tenants, including shopping, driving and dog walking services.
Kayleigh Osborne, volunteer dog walker, spoke about how volunteering with Fit for Life has had a positive impact on both her own and the tenants’ well-being.
She said: “Through volunteering, I’ve made a loyal friend who’s always glad to see me! It’s also connected me with someone who I would never have met in my day-to-day life.”
Designed to attract a variety of talents, the opportunities for volunteering with Loreburn’s Fit for Life are limitless.
Callum McIntosh, a volunteer photographer, regularly supports Loreburn at Later Living events – working to a brief and providing images for a range of media and library use.
Bryony continued: “We’re extremely proud of the work that we have delivered to enable more people to be more active, more often.
“This past year has been very positive for all involved. I’m looking forward to the months ahead – building further on this project and ensuring its long-term sustainability.”
The benefits of the initiative have extended far beyond the physical. The regular sessions provide Loreburn tenants with a safe and positive space to connect with neighbours and meet new people.
Heather Dorling, Later Living Service Manager, said: “This has been an excellent opportunity for our Later Living tenants, and just at the right time.
“We all know now how Covid and lockdown affected us all, particularly older people and those with health-related vulnerabilities.æ
“We’ve seen a real boost to morale and an increase in energy and motivation, as well as courage and curiosity to try new adventures and get together with friends and neighbours.”
“It’s been so good to see volunteers step up to help out and we’d really love to welcome more – with even an hour to spare. Our volunteers and the team are having just as much fun as our tenants.”
For more information about the volunteering opportunities available, and to register your interest, visit Loreburn’s dedicated Fit for Life website page: www.loreburn.org.uk/fit-for-life/