Building fitness and friendships to keep loneliness at bay.

A successful local project that was bringing friendship and improved wellbeing to Harrow residents has been able to continue thanks to Harrow Giving.

Roxeth Community Church runs free Pilates classes providing local connections and friendship for Harrow residents, as well as improving mobility, strength and balance. Demand was higher than ever post Covid, as health challenges magnified and anxiety and loneliness increased. But at a time when these classes were more needed than ever, funding ran out, and many could no longer attend. 

“The classes give me something to look forward to each week.”

A grant received from Harrow Giving meant that the classes could continue providing physical, mental and emotional support, delivering 4 weekly classes for another 3 months. These were made up of 3 chair Pilates classes and one Zoom class. This meant many could attend who would find traditional classes hard.

Numbers have increased so much since Covid that the Seniors’ class at the Beacon Centre has split into 2 back to back classes, with up to 50 seniors! However many were struggling to attend when funding ran out, so the help from Harrow Giving has been hugely beneficial. As well as the physical benefits of the class, the social aspect of the tea and coffee hour after plays a valuable part in decreasing isolation. 

“Who would have thought Chair Pilates for Seniors would be so much fun!  Not only am I getting fit but I’m meeting so many new friends.” Maggie, Chair Based Exercise Participant

Another class took place at St Michael and All Angels in Harrow Weald. As with all the classes, the relaxed, welcoming environment means it feels safe even for those with disabilities. Many who attend are carers and can bring their partner too, when going out together can be a rare opportunity. The extra 3 months the grant allowed it to run over winter provided a much needed source of support, with one attendee commenting “if I come to Chair Based Exercise then I know it’s going to be a good day.”

The improved mobility and strength as a result of the Pilates also helps to reduce anxiety about going out, helping to reduce isolation long term too. This is especially valuable after it’s been so normalised over the last few years of Covid. However for those unable to get out over the winter months, the Zoom Balance and Posture class was especially helpful, and meant they could reach so many more members of the community.  

Roxeth Community Church was also able to hold a Christmas Party, which gave some residents their only chance to celebrate with others.

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