Being Active Matters - new call for volunteers
An innovative new project that aims to help people with mental health issues to become
more physically active is looking for volunteers in Northumberland to act as support
The ‘Being Active Matters’ project is being led by charity Mental Health Matters, who
provide psychological treatment and support for local people as part of their Talking
Matters Northumberland service, and is supported by a large network of leisure centres and
physical activity schemes throughout the area.
The Being Active Matters scheme is looking for volunteers who could extend a hand of friendship and buddy with someone who wants to become more physically active in order to improve their mental wellbeing. This could be walking, running, visits to the gym, a game of golf or even just kicking a ball around.
You can volunteer for as many or as few hours as you wish in an activity of your choice and training will be provided.
The project is being piloted in north and west Northumberland and two members of staff
have recently been employed by Talking Matters Northumberland to coordinate the volunteers for the project – one based in Hexham and the other in Alnwick.
Being Active Matters has received £142,000 funding from Sport England and £30,000 from Northumberland County Council with further support coming from Hexham and Alnwick Town Councils.
Gordon Allan, the Project Champion whose wife Sally took her own life on Boxing Day 2015, was responsible for the project idea and brought the partners and funding together.
“ We know sport and exercise can have a really positive effect on mental as well as physical health. However, that first step to becoming physically active can often be daunting particularly for individuals who may be anxious and lacking in self confidence.
“ We are recruiting volunteers to support individuals on a one to one basis to identify an activity that is right for them and assist them to overcome any barriers to participation.
If you have an activity you would like to share with someone else, we’d love to hear from you.”
Northumberland County Councillor Cath Homer, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure said:
“ As mental health awareness grows, we know that the benefits of sport and exercise are not just physical. Regular physical activity is great for the mind and our mental health. It can improve mood, lift self-esteem and reduce stress.
“ Active Northumberland is undertaking some really pioneering work to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of local residents and supporting this programme is another great example of this work.”
Steve Patterson, the manager of Talking Matters Northumberland, said:
“For anyone coping with mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, taking up a new sport or getting back into the swing of being physically active can be really daunting. Many people just need some extra confidence and motivation to take part in an activity, and this project will create a ‘buddy scheme’ where our volunteers will be matched to someone who needs that extra bit of support. It will also invite sports clubs and organisations to learn how they, as a club, can be more supportive and welcoming to people who struggle with their mental health.”
Project partners Active Northumberland is now working with Talking Matters who provide the NHS funded talking therapy service to identify what opportunities are available for individuals in their local community.
To find out more, please contact
(North Northumberland) - Karen Renner 07483326881 / KRenner@tmnorthumberland.org.uk or
(West Northumberland) - Helen Brown on 07483991835 / HBrown@tmnorthumberland.org.uk