Banbury’s FAST success story all set for Bicester and Kidlington

A scheme that has been helping families in Banbury do more exercise is being rolled out to Bicester and Kidlington.
Dave Norridge who runs the FAST programme of family activities in Banbury and the rest of Cherwell districtDave Norridge who runs the FAST programme of family activities in Banbury and the rest of Cherwell district
Dave Norridge who runs the FAST programme of family activities in Banbury and the rest of Cherwell district

Dave Norridge and his Cherwell District Council colleagues hin the FAST (Families Active Sporting Together) team have already successfully helped more than 1,700 children and adults in 500 families get more active in Banbury.

When the council conducted its annual satisfaction survey in 2019, residents said they wanted to see more focus on leisure and activities for young people - and FAST is part of the council’s response. The council successfully won £215,000 to deliver the work in Banbury and has now won a further £375,000 from the same source for Bicester and Kidlington.

Mr Norridge said: “The reward of our work is to know we are helping families bond together at the same time as getting more active and having their imaginations opened to new games and sports they may not have tried before.

“We try to avoid the traditional sports like football and rugby and instead focus on games that all the family can enjoy together – including capture the flag, dodgeball, giants vs dwarves (a version of rock paper scissors), rounders and clap catch.

“It’s great when we get feedback that families are taking the games home and playing them themselves because then we know we’ve had a really lasting impact. In Banbury we’ve had feedback that children have become more confident and parents feel as if they are more outgoing and willing to take part in new things. That then opens doors to all kinds of activities to keep them occupied and healthy.

“A recent survey showed that 96 per cent of people who took part in Banbury would recommend FAST to family and friends so now the four of us who are delivering this work are really looking forward to introducing our work to the people of Bicester and my home town of Kidlington," he said.

“When we are with families we never want to sound like we are preaching. We just want to try to open eyes to new games and activities that will bring enjoyment and health benefits through exercise. There are so many sports and games that there’s always something for everyone.”]

From Monday, January 20, heavily discounted offers on a range of sports activities will be made available to those signing up to a FAST card, including: a family swim at Bicester or Kidlington and Gosford Leisure Centre for £3 instead of £13; 15 per cent off Clip ‘n Climb Bicester for Monday to Friday 'open' sessions; and £10 for a six-week family tennis programme (saving £15) at Kidlington and Gosford Leisure Centre. Free family sports sessions are already taking place at schools in Bicester and Kidlington, with more being planned over the coming months. There are also savings on healthy meals at selected food outlets.

Councillor George Reynolds, Cherwell’s lead member for leisure and sport said: “These are exciting times for parents, grandparents and children in Bicester and Kidlington given the success story we’ve experienced in Banbury already. It’s a fun way of getting young and old within a family to be inspired to be more active.

“Research is clear that sharing time together and improving activity levels has positive effects on both mental and physical health. The FAST programme therefore not only benefits the participants but by improving their general wellbeing, it reduces the need for doctors’ appointments and the like."

More than 3,000 residents will be eligible to take part in the new extended FAST scheme. In line with the offer in Banbury, the project will encompass wards with higher recorded levels of inactivity including families living in Bicester East, Bicester West, Bicester Town, Kidlington East and Kidlington West.

The FAST project is one of a series of well-being initiatives being implemented by Cherwell in 2020. It follows the recent announcement of the new healthy place shaping programme, K5 Better Together, for Kidlington and the surrounding area, inspired by the Healthy Bicester partnership.

Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and well-being said: “Giving our residents the opportunity to live happy, healthy lives is one of Cherwell’s key priorities. The FAST programme is a great example of this, offering families the chance to improve their well-being in an easy and affordable way.”

Readers can find out when there are activities near you on the FAST Instagram account – the tag is @YouthActivators. The page will show what sessions are organised every week, challenges, events coming up, chances to win prizes and games and fun activities.