Active Suffolk has now completed the Active Skills project following the success of securing over £170,000 of funding from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment fund, CIMSPA's Retrain to Retain programme & Suffolk County Council to upskill the Sport & PA sector in Suffolk, following the damaging impacts of the pandemic when 48% of employees left the sector nationally.
The project has provided employers and instructors with the opportunity and financial support to access a range of qualifications and CPD in the prevention and management of long-term health conditions, mental health, engaging inactives and role specific training, with 350 skills qualifications delivered to 260 different individuals across the sector in Suffolk.
Feedback from employers and independent instructors completing the training has been outstanding. 100% of exercise specialists attending courses stated that the training investment has improved the quality of their knowledge and delivery and confidence to prescribe and deliver physical activity to their clients. The training has also had a positive impact on attracting new participants to their classes, with a total of 376+ new participants attending sessions since the project began.
Active Suffolk reached out to a number of local employers whose workforce has benefited from the funding to understand the impact the investment has had on them, their workforce and the sector in general:
Bella Colofrancesco, Head of Sport & Leisure at Ipswich Borough Council said:
"Our workforce was heavily depleted as a result of the pandemic and our ability to deliver activities to tackle inequalities became under immense strain. The Active Skills project has demonstrated a sector-wide commitment in Suffolk to investing in people's careers and as a whole, investing in a workforce that ultimately will have a legacy on positively improving the lives of many people by supporting their physical activity."
An independent instructor completing a Level 4 Diabetes and Obesity course said:
"I have benefited in a number of ways including increased confidence in helping people who have a BMI of over 40, and generally helping anyone who is not in the healthy BMI range. It also helped hugely with helping clients with their nutritional needs and how this affects general health and fitness. It was also hugely interesting seeing how much the British population is affected by obesity and diabetes and how much needs to be done"
The project was able to fund 39 physical activity instructors in OTAGO (strength and balance) training, which has provided support for residents in care homes across Suffolk. With over 17 care homes benefitting and 103+ residents participating in weekly strength and balance classes, 51 residents made noticeable progress and 71% of them noticed less falls over the duration of the programme. Active Suffolk visited a strength and balance class to speak to some of the residents to find out how they had benefited from the sessions:
"At my first class, I couldn't hold my balance, now after just a few classes I can stand unassisted – this has given me the confidence I need again to get up and believe I can do it!"
"I can feel the benefits from just a few classes, I am becoming less reliant on my frame"
Through the delivery of this project, individual businesses in the Sport & Physical Activity Sector are now more resilient and upskilled to provide a better-quality service which meets the needs of local communities, allowing their business to grow and secure further investment into Suffolk. T
Following the completion of the project an impact and evaluation report has been produced along with a suite of case studies which demonstrates the significant impact this has had, not only on the Suffolk workforce but the wider Suffolk community in terms of reducing health inequalities and benefiting the wider Suffolk .economy.
Richard Hunt, Strategic Lead for Suffolk Growth said:
"This is a timely and positive report that Suffolk Growth has been pleased to support through the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund. The project has demonstrated tangible examples of health and lifestyle benefits, through the upskilling of the leisure and sport and physical activity workforce, and collaboration across leisure, education and health partners. A more skilled leisure and physical activity sector is now better equipped to support the health and well being of our local communities, and ultimately a healthier economy." recovery owing
To read the full impact and evaluation report and the case studies from the project, please visit Active Suffolk – Active Skills . For any queries regarding the Project, please contact Susannah Challis Susannah.firstname.lastname@example.org
SC 12 18 Month Evaluation Report SEPT23 VFINAL2 (PDF, 4.2 Mb)