People with mental health issues and who are anxious about attending leisure centres can receive dedicated support thanks to a Gym Buddy scheme.
Cherwell District Council has teamed up with partner agencies including mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind and Oxfordshire Sports and Physical Activity as part of its Active Body, Active Mind initiatve.
The scheme will provide people with eight weeks of free one-to-one support from a trained volunteer while visiting Spiceball Leisure Centre in Banbury to try various gym, class or swimming activities.
Councillor George Reynolds, Cherwell’s deputy leader, said: “Leisure centres can be a daunting place for anyone attending for the first time and for those with mental health problems, this anxiety can be heightened.
“However there are so many benefits to be obtained from joining leisure centres, aside from the obvious fitness. Exercise produces endorphins and this has been linked to making people feel happier and reducing feelings of depression. What’s more, regular attendance can bring about social benefit through the buildings of new friendships.”
By signing up to the scheme, attendees will be paired with a trained volunteer who will accompany them to classes, gym or swim activities over the first eight weeks to help them build confidence in using the facilities.
The first eight of those sessions will be provided free of charge, with usual admission fees applicable thereafter. Participants may be eligible to apply for the council’s Link Card which offers half price admission to all four of the council’s leisure centres with a medical referral or recommenaton.
The scheme is being trialled at Spiceball Leisure Centre but if successful, will look to be rolled out to the council’s other leisure centres in Bicester and Kidlington.
Mr Reynolds added: “With so many positives to be gained from joining leisure centres, we really want to ensure that those who could really benefit do not lose out. By signing up to the Gym Buddy scheme people won’t have to face their anxieties alone and will be joined by a trained volunteer who will keep them company over the initial weeks.”
Call Tom Gubbins 01295 221720 for more details.
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