Disability Peterborough were awarded Tackling Inequalities Funding June to December 2021.
As a charity and disability user lead organisation, working with physically disabled adults in the city of Peterborough, they knew that due to the restrictions covid had placed on people’s lives, that disabled people they were talking to where very isolated. Their mobility and well-being amongst other things had declined since the first lockdown in March 2020.
The funding enabled the charity to fund a personal trainer to go into twelve people’s homes over a 6-week period, working directly with people with bespoke exercise plans.
The people referred to the programme where the more complex cases with more than one impairment or condition impacting on their daily life. These people would not have gone to a group exercise class outside the home even before covid and would not be able to access online exercise provision. Working with individuals in this very bespoke way enabled the tracking of changes and the measurement of the difference the exercise was making to these individuals in just a short space of time. The organisation could really see difference they were making to people’s lives, through exercise improving not only their functional ability but their all-round wellbeing and self-worth.
Disability Peterborough where able to truly co-produce this project with disabled people they knew needed their help to change their situation. They took the time to listen to their clients’ needs during their weekly well-being calls (6,000 calls) which started during the first lockdown. The funding then enabled them to act on what they were hearing in a way that they would never have done before. Their conclusions were that people with multiple challenges need intensive support to change. To improve people’s wellbeing in a holistic way, not just firefighting and problem solving one issue after another.
The tailored exercise programmes devised with the individuals could support people to get into a better place. Particularly the people that had stop receiving services like physio and occupational therapy. The personal trainer was able to go into people’s home develop a relationship, build trust, and keep listening to people’s needs. The programme worked differently to having a medical appointment to deal with one issue. The person was listened to, and the programme designed around their own motivations, needs and goals taking a holistic approach. Sessions lasted half an hour, and this was too much time to exercise for most people, but the company and the support was as important, as the exercise. People felt they were worth something and appreciated the fact that they were being supported on a one-to-one basis. If other issues were discussed or discovered further signposting or support would be found.
Because of the funding and other factors, they have been able to look wider at the different services and what they offer and what people are asking for. They now have a wellbeing service and a better all-round offer, enabling them to take a holistic look at what is going on in a person’s life. From the exercise programme to a craft group to help people feel less isolated. Covid has been a catalyst to be more creative and can see the difference it makes. They’re not just firefighting anymore and have been able to look for more long-term at funding as an organisation and would very much like to do the same to continue this programme now they have the evidence to show that this way of working has been so beneficial to the individuals.
Once this framework has been published, we encourage partners to consider how they can implement the framework to make a real change for disabled people to access physical activity, sport, and leisure in the way they want, when they want, with no barriers placed on them by society.