We've invested £1.3 million of National Lottery funding in The Richmond Group of Charities to support research projects and pilot studies.
The money will be split between eight of the country's leading health charities, who deal with chronic conditions such as stroke, diabetes, cancer, diabetes, mental health problems and Alzheimer's.
With more than a third of the population living with one or more common long-term health condition, and these people being more likely to do little or no activity, this investment is aimed at getting those people active.
The Richmond Group of Charities is a partnership of 14 leading health and social care charities that represent more than 15 million people living with long-term conditions who could potentially benefit from sport and physical activity.
They have unique insights into how people with a range of long-term conditions go about their lives and experience their care and are dedicated to sharing that insight to facilitate better use of health and care resources - with their respective charities already having examples of how being physically active can help manage long-term health conditions.
The pilot studies
This 12-month insight project will develop and test methods, strategies, messages and communication channels for reaching and engaging inactive older people – using Sport England’s existing segmentation for inactive older adults as a starting point.
To achieve this, the project will aim to understand the barriers to activity and develop sustainable ways to mitigate these factors.
The findings will be used to develop a practical implementation model and other resources so that local Age UKs and other providers, as well as funders, can understand what is needed to support older people to become more active.
Age UK will also lead on a standardised evaluation approach for the collection of data from projects which will enable the Richmond Group of Charities to draw out common themes, gauge replicability of interventions and consider sustainability of the projects.
What the charity says
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director: “Exercise is good for physical and mental health, whatever your age, but it’s especially important as we get older.
“Exercise can build confidence and improve wellbeing, help older people to live independently for longer, and reduce isolation and loneliness.
“We’re excited to be part of this project, which gives us an opportunity to better understand, and tackle some of the issues preventing older people from staying, or getting active.”
Alzheimer’s Society plans to remove some of the barriers faced by people with dementia to taking part in sport and physical activity by producing a Dementia Friendly Guide.
The project will gather insight from those people living with dementia and their carers to understand the barriers to participation in sport and leisure.
This insight will be used to shape the resources produced for providers and the actions they need to take to support people with dementia and those caring for them.
The guide will equip the sport and physical activity sector with the resources and knowledge they require to make their organisations and services ‘dementia-friendly’ and more accessible to anyone living with the condition.
What the charity says
Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society chief executive: “Sport and physical activity can play an important part of life for many people with dementia, providing many benefits for both physical and mental health.
“Sadly though, we hear too often from people living with dementia that their local sports groups and leisure centres can be difficult to access and many staff are unaware of the small changes that could be made to address these, meaning they can miss out on much-loved activities such as swimming or going to the gym.
“There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and with someone developing the condition every three minutes, it is vital that we help people with dementia to feel supported within their community and able to live well with their condition.
“We are really thankful and excited to have been awarded this funding by Sport England. This funding will help us to create resources to help sports and leisure facilities across the UK unite to become more dementia-friendly.”
Breast Cancer Now
This seven-month insight project seeks to address an identified research gap by generating comprehensive insight that helps understand why women with breast cancer are inactive, what interventions would work most effectively to change this, and how older women can be supported to maintain these positive changes.
The project will target women aged 55+ diagnosed within the last five years – particularly those who have undergone reconstructive surgery.
The project will understand the capabilities, opportunities and motivations of women with breast cancer to become more active, building upon existing insight and research, including Macmillan’s work, with the aim of developing a physical activity behaviour change intervention specifically tailored to the needs of people aged 55+ diagnosed with breast cancer.
British Lung Foundation
The project will develop an evidence-based service using telephone health coaching to empower people living with lung conditions to become and stay active.
It will use the British Lung Foundation helpline team to engage inactive people living with lung conditions. The helpline team will give advice on physical activity to callers.
As part of this, they will signpost individuals to health information and local activities.
If they require additional help to become active, they’ll be offered specialist support, which involves the use of motivational interviewing aimed at enabling people to build their confidence.
This 12-month insight project will help Diabetes UK to understand the evidence around physical activity on clinical diabetes outcomes (type 1 and type 2) and prevention of Type 2 diabetes.
It will help to understand the barriers that prevent people from changing behaviour and carrying out more physical activity, as well as what areas of activity are more appropriate and relevant for different people, e.g. by age, engagement intentions in undertaking activity, mobility problems and other co-morbidities.
The longer-term intention is to utilise all insight gathered to inform an appropriate physical activity behaviour change intervention(s) to support people with, or at risk of, diabetes becoming regularly active.
This project will be testing a helpline response programme, recruiting a dedicated Information and Support officer.
They will be available via the helpline as a physical activity and behaviour change expert, who will work with callers to the helpline to change their behaviour.
What the charity says
Michelle Mitchell, MS Society chief executive: “Research tells us that exercise is safe and beneficial for people with MS and can improve mobility and muscle strength, mood, and some MS symptoms.
“We are grateful to Sport England and the Richmond Group for funding this opportunity to test a tailored approach to helping people with MS become more physically active.”
Rethink Mental Illness
People living with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder face barriers to physical activity.
The partnership aims to establish whether these barriers can be overcome by embedding physical activity into peer support groups and to explore the impact this may have on physical and mental health.
In the first year, a toolkit will be co-designed with people with lived experience and physical activity experts, and then piloted in six local groups and evaluated.
It will then be rolled out to a further 20 groups in year two and 20 groups in year three, before becoming nationally available.
What the charity says
Brian Down, Rethink Mental Illness deputy chief executive: “This is an ambitious and vitally important project, and Rethink Mental Illness is proud to be part of it.
“The benefits of regular physical activity are well known, but what’s perhaps less known is how life-saving this could be for many people living with a mental illness.
“People with conditions like schizophrenia die on average 15 to 20 years earlier than the rest of the population, largely due to preventable physical health problems caused by a number of factors including the side effects of medication.
“We believe that supporting people to become more active will help bring down this scandalous figure.”
This partnership seeks to increase levels of physical activity amongst stroke survivors for the improvement of wellbeing, better self-management and secondary stroke prevention.
It will look at the role of peer-to-peer groups in creating a supportive environment for physical activity to be sustained by individuals affected by stroke.
In addition, it will test the role of personal digital interventions to aid retention and improve motivation, as well as exploring the role of one-to-one peer buddies to help motivate those affected by stroke to stay active.
It will run in four locations and will be co-designed with stroke survivors in Preston/Chorley (central Lancashire), Newham (London), Grimsby (north east Lincolnshire) and Somerset (south west).
What the charity says
Juliet Bouverie, Stroke Association chief executive: “A stroke can have a devastating impact on a person both physically and mentally.
“Getting people to live active lives is a priority for the Stroke Association because just 30 minutes of moderate activity, like climbing stairs or vacuuming, for at least five days a week, can reduce your risk of stroke by over 25%.
“We hope this collaboration with the Richmond Group and Sport England will give people with long-term conditions the support they need to start being more active in order to improve their health and enjoy their life after stroke.”