Gateway’s work often explores the link between physical activity and good mental health. We’ve found that people who are more physically active generally feel happier and more confident. So for people who are socially isolated, starting to exercise can make a world of difference.
Lesley (pictured) started seeing a Health Trainer at the end of last year, asking for some support to make changes to her lifestyle. Her main goal was to lose weight – she was physically inactive, as she’s disabled, and she had a poor diet. In her meetings with Sean, Lesley also reported a low level of wellbeing, explaining that she often felt stressed and anxious.
Sean put Lesley in touch with Gateway’s Lighten Up service, which allowed her to access a weight loss group. She chose Slimming World, and began going in January this year.
In April this year, we received a comment out of the blue on our blog post Health Trainers – making the whole home healthier:
My health trainer Sean recently got me [into] Slimming World. I started on 6/1/15 & have manged to loose 1 1/2 st – which i am pleased with because i am disabled. I now go swimming 3 – 4 times a week & have made friends & now have a social life….My hubby & daughter are also following the diet.
I have one regretvwish i had joined Slimming World sooner. — LESLEY
Lesley is not only becoming fitter and healthier physically, but she is starting to see benefits to her general wellbeing too. She’s got support and buy-in from her family, who are also benefiting by following the new diet, and she’s also seeing the start of a new social life. We’re really happy to hear that Lesley’s new exercise habits are enabling her to build new routines and make new friends.
Making friends – at all ages
As people get older, it often becomes harder to maintain and make new friendships. Age UK reports that “more than a million older people in the UK go for a month or more without seeing or speaking to anyone”.
To highlight the issue of social isolation in older people, Age UK are suggesting people hold a Big Chinwag on 19th June, where friends get together to fundraise by simply having a natter with friends. The money raised goes to Age UK to help lonely older people across the country.
But of course, as Lesley has shown, it’s not just older people who need friends.
Gateway’s Volunteer Befrienders visit and support people of all ages who might otherwise be isolated, including our Pregnancy Outreach clients. We’re always looking for new volunteers and new clients, so get in touch if you think you could volunteer as a befriender, and visit someone to offer support, or if you or someone you know would benefit from a companion.
We love hearing about ways in which our work has helped people to become happier and healthier. Thanks very much to Lesley for leaving a comment, and for talking to Sean about her new social life in this short video, taken at their most recent appointment, which you can watch below.