The submission for this award showcases a multi-agency and government funded programme called Engage Somerset. It is a fine example of partnership working providing a number of successful initiatives tackling health inequalities and encouraging positive behaviour change to improve the lives of the people of Somerset.
Engage Somerset was a unique initiative supporting working age adults who were not in work and equipping them with the skills needed to move closer to employment. In 2022, it was estimated that there were 7,800 unemployed working age residents in Somerset.
This innovative approach saw key partners across Somerset come together to use physical activity and other life skill education to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of participants to help them on a journey to be employment ready.
The Healthy Communities Team has been working closely with key partners such as Pluss, an organisation that supports individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to move back into employment and Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP), who are dedicated to increasing the health and happiness of residents in Somerset through physical activity and sport.
Engage Somerset was a county wide community based social prescribing service aiming to improve the health and well-being of working age adults with a view to help them return to work. This project was funded by the UK Government Community Renewal Fund.
Engage Somerset offered participants a tailored funded 8-week programme to experience Chard Leisure Centre, supported by 1-2-1 mentoring throughout their journey. One of the unique approaches we included was to offer participants a budget to spend on swim or gym wear. This was really valuable as many of the individuals didn’t own anything suitable to exercise in and this had been a barrier for them.
In addition to this, participants also received a Fitbit, which was an incentive, but more importantly the team could monitor their activity levels and improvements and see the impact it was having on participants with increased confidence, improved energy levels, motivation.
We are so pleased to be a finalist in the prestigious UK Active Awards. It is a real feather in the cap for our Healthy Communities Team and testament to their hard work and the tangible benefits they are bringing to the people of Somerset. The knowledge, experience and positive impacts we have realised during the programme has gone on to be replicated across other regions and in other leisure centres operated by Freedom Leisure across England and Wales.