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The iCan way of thinking- Armed Forces Covenant fund 2017

In 2017  iCan was kindly funded £4000 by the Armed Forces Covenant fund- directly given by Glenmore Trust to develop a health and well being pilot based on exercise, eating and friendship.

Working with ex servicemen and women, there is an expectation that doing exercise is not new to them.  However, for this project, we aimed to help people who, for whatever reason, had disengaged, or had lost the motivation to maintain health and wellbeing.

The aim was to provide a 6 month period of free membership to 10 ex service personnel. Each beneficiary received:

  • Initial consultation and introduction: A private chat about what the client needs, their individual goals, and how they feel about themselves and their physical wellbeing and how iCan Health and Fitness could support them.
  • Supervised, friendly service and advice every visit with fully qualified activity coaches (L2, L3 or L4 personal trainer qualified)
  • Monthly 1 to 1 care and advice chat- reflecting on progress, review of the plan and rebalance if necessary
  • Monthly Weight, inches, and body fat % measurement, blood pressure monitoring
  • Unlimited access to the supervised gym sessions and all other classes-  advised 4 sessions a week if possible.
  • iCan’s eat well guide- A detailed guide of meal ideas and recipes to help the beneficiary manage their calorie intake and get back on the road to healthy eating.
  • iCan’s fridge friendly good vs bad foods- A simple guide to what foods are good to eat and what foods can negatively effect their weight loss and health.
  • Before and after photos and health record so the beneficiary can see their improvement throughout their experience at iCan.

Member mentors helped to publicise the project, alongside regular social media and website posts. Support came from Val Tarbot- Longtown Division, Jozie Brown- CVS- Senior engagement officer, Richie Hinson- Armed forces support worker.

MEASURING SUCCESS

Success is based on the following stats:

Achieving and succeeding the number of beneficiaries- Aim- 10, Actual- 18. 12 Female 6 male. Age range:  32 – 77 years. Forces: Army, Navy, RAF, WRAC

The number of joiners who continued after the free period- Aim-2, Actual- 4

All participants were asked to complete the Warwick – Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale when they joined and were asked to complete it at the end of the 6 month period.  78% reported better mental health 

Reasons for attending: There are a number of reasons, why participants attend the service.  Some were overweight and want to lose weight, others had underlying anxiety and 6 felt they were socially isolated.

Qualitative feedback:  Feedback from participants has been very positive.

They particularly like the sense of and being part of a supportive community.  The environment is warm and inviting and the role of the volunteer member mentors was well liked.  A number of participants have been very successful in improving overall fitness and subsequent well being.  One participant has become noticeably more confident.

Outcomes show:

18 Participants joined the programme

16 participants continued exercising for the full 8 week programme

4 participants joined iCan to continue their health and wellbeing journey

1296 exercise sessions were attended by veterans.

Direct feedback:

80% confirmed they felt more at ease and connected with their local community thanks to the programme.

92% confirmed they have made at least one friend whilst on the programme.

89% confirmed they felt more motivated to stay active.

98% said they enjoyed the experience of attending regular exercise and wellbeing sessions

75% lost over 4lbs during the programme

A combined body fat percentage loss of 27%

A recipient of the programme Pauline Wright has kindly allowed us to tell her story:

“I was given the opportunity to join iCAN on a 6 month funded project that was specifically for veterans.  I wasn’t sure how it would go, however, I have been seriously impressed with how much fitter I am.  I train 4 to 5 times a week and have lost a total of 9 pounds.  Now, that doesn’t sound like much but the incredible part is I’ve lost 28 inches all over so I’m down a few sizes in clothes losing 9 inches from my hips alone.  I’ve got more energy, I’m eating healthier food options and I’ve made new friends. I am so grateful to have been introduced to this project as it’s had a positive impact on my life.  As a result I have since joined iCAN as a full time member.  If further funding becomes available for another project like this for veterans, I would be honoured to mentor participants as I know what it’s like to be fit whilst in the military and to lose that once leaving.”

Pauline Wright ex. British Army and Royal New Zealand Navy.

Pauline is now hoping to lead a further beneficiary led programme for Veterans at iCan and is applying for funding with the help of iCan Directors. Her project would see a drop in service twice a week for Veterans over the period of two years. She aims to not only focus on the health and wellbeing of veterans but also their emotional resilience, reminiscing of their experiences and sharing that with like-minded peers, getting back into the workplace, socialising and improving communication.

iCan Health and Fitness CIC- Changing attitudes from I can’t to I CAN!

Chris Marshall

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