Active Local is a new initiative from the Partnership and will focus on a target area within each of Hertfordshire’s ten local authorities. Through discussions with Stevenage Borough Council, the Bedwell area has been identified and we are currently working alongside community groups and organisations to better understand the area; focussing on the people and places within Bedwell to design and deliver opportunities that are accessible, affordable and appropriate for all members of the local community.

Our aim is to respond to local need to improve physical activity levels and get more people more active. We are currently undertaking extensive consultation, one element of which is a survey open to all those working and living in Bedwell, Stevenage. If you are a local resident, please feel free to complete the survey by clicking here.

Tackling Inequalities Fund Case Studies

Irish Network Stevenage
Irish Network Stevenage (INS) support older and vulnerable people in Stevenage, providing social opportunities for their members such as film clubs, bingo nights, craft clubs and lunch clubs. They also support members to engage with community, statutory and health agencies. INS received a TIF grant so that they could continue to run their popular line dancing sessions in smaller groups, targeting those older residents that were suffering most from the effects of the pandemic.

Elaine Connelly, Projects Manager, said: ‘The impact has been huge. Being able to re-engage with our members has had a big impact on our ability to support them and find out how they are coping with lockdown. We have identified many issues concerning isolation and the sporadic support that some members are receiving. There are very few organisations within Stevenage currently offering face to face support to older people during lockdown which has made our services even more important and we are so pleased that we have been able to step in to plug this gap.’ 

This was particularly important for one lady whose scheme had stopped all activities. She was struggling to cope with the isolation and loneliness of lockdown: ‘She cannot read or write, and this has previously made her reluctant to engage with new things. She now attends three of our activities that she previously wouldn’t have attended.’

The Red Shed Project – Croquet Sessions

The Red Shed Project is a non-profit organisation that benefits the community, providing a service for those living with Dementia, their carers and families. The qualified Horticultural Therapists, supported by trained and experienced volunteers, deliver garden-based activities and experiences.  They aim to improve and enhance physical and mental health, well being and alleviate loneliness and isolation.

Following the lockdowns due to COVID, The Red Shed actively looked for activities to help people with dementia and their carers, to start getting out and about safely again. Many of our service users had experienced a reduction in their physical fitness and some presented signs of reduced mental health during lockdown.  They also reported a loss in confidence in being outside and with other people.

The Opportunity of collaborating with Active Local was too good to miss and as we provide garden-based activities, the traditional garden sport of Croquet seemed like a perfect fit.

The Red Shed project uses the 5 ways to Wellbeing as a tool when structuring our program of activities. We assessed that Croquet would provide the opportunity to Learn something new, get Active and Connect with others. – all positive outcomes for both mental and physical health.

Croquet is an inclusive activity, enabling participants with different physical abilities and mental capacity to join in together. In total we had 16 people attending the four sessions.  8 of these were Carers who particularly benefited from the social opportunity and one reported – ‘it’s so nice to come out together in the evening’

8 of the participants are living with dementia.  Their symptoms vary and include difficulty in walking (one participant uses a wheelchair), poor sight, poor memory, difficulty in sequencing tasks and poor concentration. Everyone was able to play the game with some support from volunteers and their team mates when needed.

Feedback from the participants was very positive. Everyone enjoyed doing something ‘different’.  The highlight was the social aspect of playing together and doing something fun.  There was a lot of laughter and everyone was slow to leave at the end of a session.  They are all very keen to visit the Letchworth Croquet Club in October.

The Red Shed has made good use of the Croquet Set and a basic understanding of Croquet. We have held further Croquet sessions for our Carers Group (8 people), our Older Peoples Friendship Group (15 people) and we have also made it available for our Garden Clubs during August.  Having the set will enable us to continue to use Croquet as one of our regular, beneficial garden activities.

For more information about Active Local Bedwell please contact:

Jane Parker