Keep Fit Association putting on great projects with the Together Fund

Once again the Keep Fit Association has been involved in the Together Fund. The Together Fund is a continuation of the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF) that was set up in April 2020 as part of Sport England’s support package to help the sport and physical activity sector through the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis. Since its launch, TIF has enabled community groups to continue to exist and engage with their communities, supporting people to be engaged and active. The objectives are to enable further recovery and growth.

This year saw two intrepid Keep Fit trained teachers embark on exciting and innovative projects. Rebecca Slaven has been proactive in pulling together a proposition for the Mytholm area. This project started in September 2022 and continued into September 2023 building up Sit & Stay Fit classes for the benefit of the older community across the area. Alison Maguire from Huddersfield and Halifax branch has also accessed funds to deliver community-based Laban Dance Fitness classes to a cohort of women from lower socio-economic groups, culturally diverse and those with challenging lifestyles. Supporting our engagement to bring Laban Dance Fitness to every community and linking to our current support for the Refuge charity in a very real and practical way.

The evaluation of both projects has been extremely positive.

The first project is based at Mytholm Court and is in close vicinity to Mytholm Meadows.  This area has a care home and links to the wider area,  both have accessed the earlier project, we wanted to offer on-going classes to both those in the care facility and in the local area that are not in the assisted living facility. Encouraging inclusivity and providing a service for those in the community that would benefit from this  preventative activity.

From a zero base at the start of the project the Mytholm class has now built into a thriving provision in the local area. Feedback from the participants is impressive. On a high return rate of 64%, there is 100% positive response showing that in all aspects the project positively supported participants mental and physical health, connected them with local communities, created new friendships, increased their confidence, enabled them to try new activities and enable them to do more activity than they would without the project. A wholly impressive result.

One of the participants, Georgina, sums it all up

I have lived for over 14 years at Mytholm court. I have been to all the different exercise classes that have been available. This class by Rebecca is miles ahead of the others. 

Why is that? – WE KNOW the answer – it’s because Rebecca is KFA trained!

One of our very experienced teachers Alison Maguire fearlessly gripped another important project to help and support vulnerable people. This one was to deliver community-based Laban Dance fitness classes over the summer to introduce movement and dance to those experiencing domestic violence and those in periods of crisis.

The objective here was to focus on those from lower socio-economic groups and are therefore struggling with the cost of living. Using the Together Fund to seed fund the sessions and introduce the concept of hosting group movement classes as a positive offer to this client group.

The project is based at Lord Street Mission Huddersfield. Huddersfield Mission is recognised locally as a unique place in Huddersfield town centre, providing support and services for vulnerable and marginalised people, in an open and welcoming environment, a place that breaks down barriers between people who may have very different lives. This community facility supports people who find themselves in a sudden and immediate crisis and people who struggle to manage their life for a variety of reasons. Providing immediate care and long- term support and a relationship of trust as people get the appropriate help they need from the Mission and partner organisations.

Our aim was  to encourage inclusivity in group exercise and provide a service for those in the community that would benefit from Laban Dance Fitness as a preventative activity to improve both physical and mental wellbeing.

The new Lord Street Mission project generated new challenges including participant’s consistency of attendance with issues such as language, cultural and domestic challenges, child care and costs of travel to the venue all proving barriers to attendance.

However, despite these the class grew quickly from zero base to over 14 attendees in the space of 6 weeks. There was a clear cohesiveness developed in the group with culturally different participants talking to each other. Not something they would have done outside the group.  

An additional benefit is the organisers of the mission are now interested in pursuing training with KFA to host classes themselves.

Both projects were exceptionally well received. The projects  demonstrated a real success of the KFA discipline to engage and get people invested in movement and exercise to help physical and mental wellbeing and engage or reengage in community, generating social benefits. Igniting in them a desire to move and stay healthy. The two projects here have shown that regardless of age, ability or lifestyle circumstance Laban Dance can inspire, engage, and encourage. Our discipline eloquently captures physical, mental, and social benefits in one amazing package.

Lynne Dowdican – Chair