Statistics show that one in four people in Somerset live with a long-term health condition.  This often results in a person becoming less active, leading to isolation and loss of confidence.  The ability to become more active, despite long term health conditions, can help a person’s physical and mental well-being, and lead to a better quality of life.

As part of Sport England’s national “We are Undefeatable” campaign which aims to inspire people with long term health conditions to increase their levels of physical activity, Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP) has launched a specific campaign aimed at helping those in Somerset with long term health conditions to become more active.

Working in conjunction with Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local GP practices, SASP is sending information booklets about how to exercise at home and signposting activities and events that people with long-term health conditions can access and can get involved with. SASP are also conducting a survey to help understand some of the challenges and motivations around activity and long-term health conditions. This feedback will inform the development and improvement of physical activity offers provided in Somerset.

James Rimmer, Chief Executive at Somerset CCG

The campaign has been such a success that the Chief Executive of Somerset’s CCG James Rimmer, who has a long-term health condition, has become an Ambassador for Somerset’s “We are Undefeatable” programme.  He says, “As both a user of the NHS, and a commissioner of services, I can bring both my personal and professional experience to help promote and support this incredibly valuable work being undertaken by SASP.  As a keen cyclist, I appreciate how being active is important for me to manage my condition.  I also understand the challenges it brings, especially during this period with the requirement to shield.”

He continues, “I don’t let my condition stop what I’m doing, now clearly there are times when it does impact, and I can’t do everything I want to.”

Jane Knowles, CEO of SASP says, “Even during the current Covid-19 pandemic, with all the associated issues of social distancing and protecting those who are shielding, we are making sure that anyone with a long-term health condition is able to receive information and guidance about how to be more active, both at home and outdoors.”

She continues, “This Somerset-wide “We are Undefeatable” campaign is about helping people make and celebrate the small changes you can do every day to enable yourself to move more.  We understand that when you’re living with a long-term health condition, some days this might just not be possible, and that’s OK.  Moving more when you can is still just as important as accepting when you can’t.”

Dr Steve Holmes, a GP at The Park Medical Practice [in Shepton Mallett] supports the campaign.  He says, “As a general practitioner we are commonly faced with the consequences of reduced activity – and equally see people who feel so much better when increasing their activity levels. I like most of my colleagues would strongly support this initiative. This is a chance for people to improve their quality of life and fitness and enjoyment.”

SASP are fortunate to have 10 amazing ambassadors with long-term health conditions to share their inspirational and moving stories to demonstrate how physical activity has improved their health, and happiness through fun, friendships, and fitness. 

Chrissie, 77, who has Osteoarthritis, explains how important it is, especially when you live alone and far from relatives and friends, to have a routine mapped out to start each day.  She says, “Without an exercise routine, you can be in danger of becoming lethargic and then placing both your physical and mental health at risk.”  She goes on to say how it is surprising what can be achieved if you put your mind to it and that even the most simple of exercises carried out on a regular basis can mean the difference between remaining  mobile or letting yourself give in.  “Not doing regular exercise definitely results in the inevitable expanded waistline for starters, and as the months go by, a deterioration in general health and well-being,” she says.

Read more case studies: www.sasp.co.uk/somerset-ambassadors

All information and guidance about how to move more, exercises to do at home and outdoors, and links to support groups and activities can be found at www.sasp.co.uk/long-term-conditions, and Ambassadors blogs can be found on the SASP website at www.sasp.co.uk/somerset-ambassadors. More information can also be obtained from the SASP head office on 01823 653995.