Do more. Feel better.

Get Active success stories

Get Active success stories

 

Karen McManus's story

Since signing up to Greenwich Get Active, after seeing staff outside Sainsbury’s in Greenwich, Karen McManus has signed up to a gym and pursued a healthier lifestyle.  

Since signing up to Greenwich Get Active, after seeing staff outside Sainsbury’s in Greenwich, Karen McManus has signed up to a gym and pursued a healthier lifestyle.

Karen described the day she met the GGA staff, “I was doing my shopping when I saw the mobile unit in the car park. I had heard about the programme before through some friends, so decided to go on the mobile unit to see what it was all about.”

We asked Karen what she enjoyed about the GGA programme, “It has been great being able to talk to the health advisers and also friends and family that signed up about getting fitter and eating a healthier diet. I have been going to the gym at the Arches Leisure Centre for about 8 months now and I’m really enjoying it!  I have a personal trainer that helps me to use the running machine and also the rowing machine.”

Part of the reason Karen has enjoyed her time with GGA, is being able to chat to an advisor about what activities and opportunities are available in the Royal Borough. She explained, “I really enjoyed having someone contact me and to be able to have a chat about the types of activities there are out there for me to try. The website was also quite useful as it gave me the information of sessions that I could attend.  I was also able to use a free voucher for one of my activities.”

Keeping active and following a balance diet, has a number of benefits, as Karen describes, “I have lost weight and gained a lot of information about nutrition and diet.  I have also gained an understanding in food portion control, which has aided my healthier lifestyle. 

She continued, “My main benefit was getting a lot fitter like my friends had done when they signed up to the programme.  This has also motivated my husband to get fit too. He has also recently joined the gym now as well!”

 

 

Renata Parker's story

After finding out about Greenwich Get Active online, Renata Parker took the first steps towards improving her physical activity levels.

After finding out about Greenwich Get Active online, Renata Parker took the first steps towards improving her physical activity levels.

Renata was given two vouchers for a Zumba class at Mycenae House earlier this year and now takes part in Zumba twice a week.

“I have pursued a healthier lifestyle by losing two and a half stone. My family suffer with poor health so it was important that I lost weight to improve my lifestyle and most importantly feel good about myself”, said Renata.

There is nothing that I haven’t enjoyed about Greenwich Get Active. I love it completely! Everyone I see my friends or family I always talk about it to them. I think more people need to know about it.”

When describing the benefits she has experienced since taking part in Greenwich Get Active, Renata commented, “I think I am a totally different person. I’m healthier and happier now. I was able to meet people as well which was a real incentive for me to go along to the activities. It was easy, very easy, all I did was sign up on the website!” 

Marion Wood's story

One person describes how signing up to Greenwich Get Active has helped her meet new people, improve her fitness and feel better.

One person describes how signing up to Greenwich Get Active has helped her meet new people, improve her fitness and feel better.

Speaking about the GGA programme, Marion said, “I like that GGA has given me the opportunity to choose from many different activities. If we didn’t have the chance to engage with programmes like this then so many people would still be inactive. I’ve met some really nice people, made friends and the instructors are good too! We have a laugh and a chat at our session and the number of people increased from 12 people to 25!"

When asked what she thought needed improving about GGA, Marion commented, “There’s nothing not to like. There are many free activities to choose from and if they aren’t free then they are reasonably priced. Anything free and enjoyable is worth getting up in the morning for!”

It’s easy to sign up to GGA, as Marion describes, “I went to my chosen class and filled out a form. I’m still continuing the session twice a week. Also, by changing the variety of activities in sessions people can enjoy GGA even more. Every week new ladies sign up to my session that didn’t previously know about.

Marion has also experienced a number of benefits since signing up to GGA, “I am a lot more agile and my outlook on life is better too! I’ve met many new people and made friends.

"I’m not a good swimmer but I even enjoy the pool exercises now. A lot of exercises I didn’t enjoy until GGA came about. I find myself missing the activities when I am at home now. My colleagues that live outside of Greenwich keep telling me how jealous they are!”

 

Barbara Ivie's story

We spoke to Barbara Ivie who recently signed up to Greenwich Get Active and as a result, has seen an instant boost in her confidence and morale.

We spoke to Barbara Ivie who recently signed up to Greenwich Get Active and as a result, has seen an instant boost in her confidence and morale.

Barbara, aged 60, describes how she found out about GGA, “I was volunteering out in the Borough on behalf of the Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice, when I was approached by an advisor who was from the GGA programme. This was the first time I had heard about it.”

“The programme gave me instant boost of confidence and morale. It has made a big difference to my family, my lifestyle and me. I was given brilliant support from the team of advisers, which made me more motivated to get active. I currently go swimming, running and to the gym when I can” continued Barbara.

We asked Barbara how easy was it to sign up to the Greenwich Get Active programme, she said, “It was really easy!  When the adviser approached me at the Hospice she explained to me about the programme and what they offered. I filled in my details straight away as I was really keen to get started.”

You can reap a number of benefits from signing up to GGA, as Barbara tells us, “I feel and look much fitter now that what I did. I’ve lost 10 pounds already and I hope to lose another 3-4 pounds by February.  What I most like about being active is that my clothes are now smaller and that I can run and catch the bus!”

Kelly Vowles's story

Kelly Vowles signed up to Greenwich Get Active in 2012, after finishing off a weekly shop in her local Sainsburys in Greenwich, and is still continuing to take part in regular activity.

Kelly Vowles signed up to Greenwich Get Active in 2012, after finishing off a weekly shop in her local Sainsburys in Greenwich, and is still continuing to take part in regular activity.

Kelly explains how she heard about the programme, “I came out of Sainsburys after doing my shopping and was approached by a member of staff. After a couple of minutes talking about the programme I went on to the mobile unit and had a further discussion with an advisor. I then signed up to the programme to try and help me to become more active.”

You don’t have to go it alone, you can sign up to GGA and get your friends involved as well. “I’ve really enjoyed getting active along with my friend, who I encourage to become more active with me,” described Kelly, “She also signed up and we have completed most activities together. I’ve enjoyed getting the support from the advisors over the phone and to be able to understand more about the activities I can do in the Greenwich Borough.

There is a lot to enjoy when you sign up to GGA. Kelly said, “I’ve always been in contact with the friendly advisors. The programme is great, it is really helpful. The fact that we can get information about all of these activities we can do in the borough is excellent!”

Signing up to GGA is easy.

“I had a chat with the friendly, reassuring staff. I didn’t understand certain things about some of the activities and health benefits when I signed up, but once I spoke with the advisors, I understood a lot more about them and the programme,” recalls Kelly.

There is also a wide range of benefits you can experience from taking part in GGA, as Kelly told us, “I became active and lost quite a bit of weight, I now feel and look better. I did have dodgy knees before I signed up to GGA, but now after taking part in regular activity, they are much better!”

Edith Weight's story

Edith Weight, aged 92, has been reaping the benefits of signing up to Greenwich Get Active by regularly attending a get fit class.

Edith Weight, aged 92, has been reaping the benefits of signing up to Greenwich Get Active by regularly attending a get fit class.

“I signed to up to Greenwich Get Active with my friend when were at our sit and get fit session. Our instructor Patricia told us about the benefits and support we would get from the team, so Patricia passed on our details,” explained Edith.

She continued, “I am 92 years old so I am quite limited with what I can do. I have loved going along to the community centre to try out the sit and get fit class and it has been wonderful so far.

It has given me the chance to meet new friends and also to gain more confidence to get out and about.”

Edith describes the physical benefits she has experience since taking part in this scheme, “I have become a little bit fitter and more mobile since I started the classes and that is thanks to the instructors and the Get Active team.

I really enjoy going along to the classes and I hope my story can inspire others around my age to take part in some activities, they won’t be disappointed!”

Juliana Onifade's story

Juliana Onifade, aged 79, proves age is just a number, as after speaking to a GGA advisor she has recently started taking part in some new exercise classes.

Juliana Onifade, aged 79, proves age is just a number, as after speaking to a GGA advisor she has recently started taking part in some new exercise classes.

“I signed up to the GGA programme in January 2014, when the Roadshow was out in General Gordon Square in Woolwich. It was a Saturday and the bus was very busy, so I decided to go and see what it was all about,” explained Juliana.

“I have enjoyed taking part in some new exercise classes and also meeting new friends along the way,” she added. “I personally feel that I have achieved a lot in a short space of time thanks to the staff at GGA. They have given me the support and motivation to go along to the activities and to be confident in them too.”

We asked Juliana how we could improve the GGA programme. She said, “There hasn’t been anything I have not enjoyed about the programme. I am always telling my friends and family about how good it all is.”

Juliana explains how easy it was to sign up to GGA, “The advisor on the bus had so much time and patience for me. He was very friendly and showed me through the website. He also told me about a Pilates class, which I am now going along to!”

There are a number of benefits from taking part in the scheme, as Juliana told us, “I loved meeting new friends at the session and also keeping in contact with the Get Active team over the phone. I feel that my fitness and health has improved as a result of signing up to the programme. I am also starting to think more about my diet and what I am eating. The classes have also helped me to build my confidence up and now I look forward to them every week, I love it!”

June Dunsford's story

After suffering a stroke, June Dunsford aged 78 signed up to Greenwich Get Active to help build up her health again.

After suffering a stroke, June Dunsford aged 78 signed up to Greenwich Get Active to help build up her health again.

“I signed up to the GGA programme after I attended one of my keep fit classes at the local church. Afterwards there was a visitor from the Stroke Association and she did a talk on the benefits of health and keeping active. I had recently had a stroke myself so it was important for me to build up my health again by taking part in these activities,” described June.

There are lots of benefits from taking part in GGA, as June told us, “The programme has helped me to become more mobile since I had my stroke. I am certainly feeling the benefits and I’ve also met some nice people along the way. The instructors at my sessions are also really friendly and help us along nicely. My confidence has also been built up too as a result of the instructions from GGA staff over the phone.”

We asked June what she hasn’t like about GGA, she said, “Nothing! It has all been fantastic. I have recommended it to my friends and family, some of whom have gone on to sign up to the programme. It has really helped me to build up my confidence to take part in activities since my stroke. I’m really enjoying it so far.”

It’s easy to sign up to GGA says June, “I was given a leaflet for GGA by my exercise class instructor, I called them up and they took some details from me. I them received some leaflets in the post and then another phone call a week later to explain what sort of things were on offer. They then helped me to find the exercise class that I have been going to for a couple of months.

She continued, “I have enjoyed getting out more and taking part in the different exercises. I have also love meeting such wonderful new friends. I’m also looking forward to going along to try out some different activities with my new friends!”

Jon Blythe's story

Jon Blythe signed up to Greenwich Get Active in the summer of 2012, when he was employed to work as an advisor on the Roadshow, and describes his fitness journey including running the Brighton Marathon.

Jon Blythe signed up to Greenwich Get Active in the summer of 2012, when he was employed to work as an advisor on the Roadshow, and describes his fitness journey including running the Brighton Marathon.

“The good thing about GGA is that everything is in one place for you to locate. If you wanted to try something new, it’s within easy reaching distance. The website is also really easy to use and the team at the call centre are very helpful,” explained Jon, aged 24.

He continued, “The programme has certainly changed my life so it would be brilliant if other people could get the same benefits that I have. It was so easy and quick to sign up to GGA. Luckily for me I was working on the programme at the time, so it was very straightforward.”

Those who sign up to GGA see a number of benefits, as Jon describes, “My health has improved dramatically. I was used in a promotional photo for GGA and since seeing that picture, which wasn’t too flattering, I knew I needed to do something to change.”

“I signed up to the project and with help from the guys on the GGA team started going to the gym regularly and eating the right foods. Then, in April 2013, I ran the Brighton Marathon after four months of hard and intense training. To this day I’m still training at the gym most nights and try to keep my diet rather healthy as well. Changing my lifestyle after joining GGA has really helped me and has given me the confidence to tell people my story,” added Jon.

Jon has been putting his experience to good use, spreading the word of GGA to others, he said, “It has helped me to speak to people, especially when I worked on the January-March 2014 GGA Roadshow, as I was able to tell others about my own experiences and give hints and tips to make it a permanent change in their life, rather than just a temporary one.”

Lily Kimberley & Caroline Goller's story

Two friends have been reaping the benefits from a series of health focused initiatives run by the Trust and were even inspired to cycle 54 miles from London to Brighton.

Two friends have been reaping the benefits from a series of health focused initiatives run by the Trust and were even inspired to cycle 54 miles from London to Brighton.

Lily Kimberley and her good friend Caroline Goller visited the Greenwich Get Active Roadshow bus in March 2014. They stopped off at the bus in General Gordon Square in Woolwich on the final Saturday of the January - March roadshow to visit Dr Bike who was set up next to the bus.

After speaking to the pair for a couple of minutes about the free bike repair service that was on offer the staff soon found out that Lily and Caroline had a long connection with the services that Charlton Athletic Community Trust has to offer.

“I first found out about the Trust a few years ago when I signed up to the stop smoking support that they offer. I signed up to attend one of the drop-ins that were available after visiting the stop smoking roadshow in the Borough.

After a few weeks at the drop-in I decided to go along to the group that was held at the football club one evening a week. I managed to successfully quit smoking with the help of the advisers and my fellow group members. I’m happy to say that I am smoke free years on which I am delighted about. After I quit smoking I wanted to lose some weight so I got my close friend Caroline involved and we started to go to a Brazilian dance class together a couple of times a week.  We absolutely loved it!

As well as going to the dance class, we wanted to start cycling so we loaned a bike from the Greenwich Get Active scheme that we saw advertised in the paper.  We went along and loaned a bike and began cycling around the streets and parks, which was good fun. The four weeks of the bike loan scheme flew by so we decided to buy a bike straight after coming off of the scheme.  Our aim was to compete in the London-Brighton cycle ride, which we entered. My friend Caroline had never really exercised like this before so it was a massive challenge for her and for me as well.

After weeks of training we soon became very passionate about exercising and not long after we completed the 54 mile long London - Brighton cycle race which was a fantastic achievement. Our friends and family couldn’t believe we had done it.”

Lily said that her new found passion and enthusiasm and energy for exercise and activity “released the same sort of adrenaline and feel good factor than smoking did all those years ago”, only this time she is delighted she is getting the adrenaline in a positive, healthy way.

Lily and Caroline said they both “feel guilty” if they miss one of their activity classes or sessions.

They both go on weekly cycle rides around the Royal Borough of Greenwich and came to the Greenwich Get Active roadshow bus after receiving a follow up call from the Greenwich Get Active call centre. They also saw an advert in the Royal Greenwich Times newspaper inviting them to come down and have their bike checked over by Dr Bike, a specialist in bike repairs.  They collected cycling maps from the Get Active advisers on the bus as well.

Lily and Caroline are both delighted with how far they have come and the progress they have made. They finished by saying, “It shows how far you can come with the right help and support and with a little bit of self-motivation too!”

Mary Hewett's story

Mary Hewett, aged 79, wanted to find somewhere to keep fit and healthy and in signing up with Greenwich Get Active, the Blackheath native got that and much more.

Mary Hewett, aged 79, wanted to find somewhere to keep fit and healthy and in signing up with Greenwich Get Active, the Blackheath native got that and much more.

"Like me, most of the people in the class I go to are into their seventies and eighties, so it’s a fantastic chance to meet up, take part in exercise and have a good chat!" Mary explained.

Apart from her experiences in making new friends, she has also noticed a difference in her health - ‘My joints and bones feel a lot better’, she said.

GGA has also been keeping an eye on Mary’s progress and calling her regularly to check up on how she is doing, while giving her advice on how to achieve her fitness goals.

‘I have enjoyed the phone calls from the Greenwich Get Active team… and look forward to getting calls from them now and again,” said Mary.

Mary found it hard to bring up any negative experiences she had with GGA. ‘Everything has been brilliant!’ she proclaims and when asked if there is anything she would improve, she continued to praise the team’s advice on her health and her instructor who ‘knows how to keep us all going’.

Mary’s time with the team has been a successful one in creating new relationships with people her age, and staying healthy and beginning this new part of her life was as easy as visiting her local community group.

“Signing up was very easy”, she said, “I was at my local community group for a social event and I saw one of the advisers there in attendance. I wanted to get some support to try and keep myself active so I went over to the Greenwich Get Active adviser and signed up from there.  He took me through the website and then showed me some of the free classes that were available to me in the local area.”

Alan Shearer's story

After signing up to Greenwich Get Active, on the mobile unit parked in Orangery Lane car park in Eltham earlier this year, Alan Shearer decided to take up cycling and now completes 20 miles on his bike a day.

After signing up to Greenwich Get Active, on the mobile unit parked in Orangery Lane car park in Eltham earlier this year, Alan Shearer decided to take up cycling and now completes 20 miles on his bike a day.

Alan explained, “The advisors on the bus were brilliant in letting me know what activities were taking place in the Royal Borough. I have really enjoyed every aspect of the programme. I wasn’t doing much before I signed up to the Get Active programme during the Roadshow but the team has inspired and motivated me to become much more active.

“I’m now cycling around 20 miles every day to work and back. I’m also walking the dog a lot more now which is good for both of us."

It’s easy to sign up to Greenwich Get Active as Alan described, “I had just finished my shopping when I saw the mobile bus in the car park. I spoke with a friendly and knowledgeable advisor on the bus for about 10-15 minutes where I learnt much more about local activities. This kick started me on the road to become more active.”

We also asked Alan what benefits he has experienced from taking part in this scheme, he said, “I’m now exercising more and actively traveling to work and around the Borough. I cycle about 20 miles a day, which had dramatically improved my health and energy levels. This has had a positive impact on my health and also the environment.  My eating habits have also improved and I feel a lot more positive about myself and my activities."

Elizabeth Sobogun's story

Elizabeth Sobogun, aged 66, was referred to GGA after having an operation on her back and was able to find some slow paced exercises to help build up her fitness again.

Elizabeth Sobogun, aged 66, was referred to GGA after having an operation on her back and was able to find some slow paced exercises to help build up her fitness again.

“My GP called the GGA team for me and I was able to speak to them about signing up to the support service that they offered,” explain Elizabeth. “The sessions are really beneficial to me as they help me with recovering from my back operation. The instructors are really helpful and understand how to help me and the other ladies at the sessions.  I have really enjoyed meeting new people whilst at the session and also receiving the phone calls from the advisers who are fantastic.”

"They have really supported me over the phone, giving me tips and help to go along to these classes to improve my health and fitness.  Without the team being in contact with me, I wouldn't have been able to attend these classes."

The Greenwich resident added, “There is nothing I do not like about GGA, in fact, I have been recommending the programme to my friends and family so they can feel the benefits too.”

“I had quite a bad pain in both of my knees and was living on painkillers for a while,” the 66 year old continued. “My movement was quite restricted but when I started to go along to some of the sit and get fit classes and the tai chi sessions, my pain and mobility improved drastically. I am also feeling more healthy and active and am walking better without any aid, which I am really pleased about.”

Elizabeth concluded, “I would like to express my thanks to the Greenwich Get Active team, who have helped me so much over the last couple of months.  I hope others are reaping the benefits that the team have to offer!"

Carole Adams's story

Carole Adams has become the latest resident of the Borough to become a Volunteer Walk Leader under the Greenwich Get Active programme.

Carole Adams has become the latest resident of the Borough to become a Volunteer Walk Leader under the Greenwich Get Active programme.

Carol has been leading the Well Hall walk in Eltham that takes place on a Friday from 9:30am-10:30am.

“I was googling walks in the local area and I came across the programme and the Walk Leader volunteering opportunity,” said Carol

“I love walking and I like being with people, plus I hadn’t done any volunteering for a long time, so I thought it would be a great opportunity and I would enjoy it”.

Carol has spent time alongside the Healthy Walks Co-ordinator, Ollie Golding, who oversees the programme and mentors the volunteer walk leaders.  Carol said her favourite thing about being a walk leader is spending time with the group.  

“It gives me such a warm feeling and makes my day.”

Carol encourages anyone with a keen interest and a passion for walking or becoming a walk leader to just turn up at one of the walking sessions.  She said “Just turn up and walk, there’s nothing to lose, you’ll have fun and can interact with people a much or as little as you like”.

Angreta's story

Many of our clients use Greenwich Get Active as a means to overcome any boundaries which may make an active lifestyle seem impossible. Angreta is a perfect example of this; someone who felt defeated and isolated after experiencing problems with her knees, to the point where she gave up.

Many of our clients use Greenwich Get Active as a means to overcome any boundaries which may make an active lifestyle seem impossible. Angreta is a perfect example of this; someone who felt defeated and isolated after experiencing problems with her knees, to the point where she gave up.

Fortunately, Angreta came across one of our roadshows taking place in Woolwich, the first step towards her new healthy, active lifestyle. After being made aware of the programme Spresa, our health improvement advisor, was on call to bolster Angreta’s determination with a personal, motivating phone call the following week.

This simple act of outreach allowed Angreta to find an activity suited to her needs, carefully chosen through a process which would have been much harder without guidance. She now takes part in an aerobics class to help strengthen her joints, and has even started cycling; two activities that would have seemed almost impossible before support.

Angreta has praised Greenwich Get Active for this initial push. She said: “With a bit of encouragement at the beginning, you can really see the results and feel the benefits in the end.” If she keeps up her active lifestyle, there won’t be an end to the benefits she will experience. Well done to Angreta on her journey so far!

To start your journey towards a healthier, more active lifestyle, give us a call on 0800 096 5436.

David Collins's story

David decided to sign up to GGA after finding out about the service from the nurse at his doctor’s surgery.

David decided to sign up to GGA after finding out about the service from the nurse at his doctor’s surgery.

Through the programme’s advisors, he was made aware of the advantages that came with healthy living. He started to walk regularly – starting with two-mile walks around Greenwich Park and often clocking up to 13 miles in a week – as well as taking swimming lessons.

These activities, along with eating more healthily, saw him lose two and a half stone in two months, saying how he ‘loved every aspect of it’ – the satisfaction of feeling and looking healthier enough reason to motivate him. 

He is now a lot more mobile. He said: “I used to have problems putting my socks on in the morning, but now that is gone and I can reach the floor with ease. I can also now run for the bus, something which would never have been possible before!” 

Feeling the benefits himself, David went out of his way to get others on board, wanting to pass on the enthusiasm he had gained as a result of his great progress. Since he found it very simple to sign up, he wanted to make as many people aware of the program as possible. 

In his body he looks healthier, and in his mind he feels better, knowing he now has more control over his own life with a healthy, controlled diet, and a very active lifestyle.

David said he has been telling his friends about the service, as he knows it could be beneficial to anyone in the borough who needs that extra bit of assistance, motivation and awareness about what’s available.   

Kam Armstrong's story

After signing up on a GGA roadshow, Kam spoke to a friendly advisor and took the step to become active. After an initial call from an advisor she was eager to try out some new activities and, after being suggested Zumba Gold, many other methods to stay active suddenly became clear. 

After signing up on a GGA roadshow, Kam spoke to a friendly advisor and took the step to become active. After an initial call from an advisor she was eager to try out some new activities and, after being suggested Zumba Gold, many other methods to stay active suddenly became clear. 

“If I knew then what I knew now, I would’ve become active a lot sooner,” she explained, grateful to have been finally made aware of her possible options. 

With the encouragement of advisors through regular calls, she felt extremely motivated knowing that someone who cared was there to assist at all times. With an overload of information about what was happening all over Greenwich, receiving assistance and guidance seemed to make things more orderly and simple. Wherever she went GGA seemed to be there, leaflets a regular sight in in the public eye, always letting her know what was happening. 

Despite not being too familiar with technology, Kam was able to make use of the ‘straight forward’ website, navigating through it with ease. Kam states GGA acted as a springboard into the pool of physical activity benefits, her awareness of the programme leading towards unremitting possibilities. 

With options now readily available via the call centre, such as Pilates through GLL, Active for Health classes and Now’s The Time sessions, Kam was able to reap the benefits of these physical activities. She even found her frozen shoulder regained full mobility through exercise, filling her with newfound confidence, any bad mood she may have had disappearing after each session. 

“It’s never too late", she said. “Now I have become a member of Greenwich Get Active, I don’t want to stop. I want to continue being active.”

Jane's story

Jane heard about GGA via a leaflet she spotted while out in Woolwich in January 2015. She was feeling depressed and wanted to get out of the house more, so she thought she’d give us a call.

Jane heard about GGA via a leaflet she spotted while out in Woolwich in January 2015. She was feeling depressed and wanted to get out of the house more, so she thought she’d give us a call.

“I was feeling really down,” she said. “So I called the advisor and the person on the end of the phone was great. He posted me a programme with lots of activities I could try.

“I am disabled, so I went to my GP to see which of these activities I would be able to do. He referred me to the Healthwise scheme, and I went from there.” 

Healthwise is a scheme referred by GP's for those who suffer long-term conditions or have high risk factors, aiming to get those interested involved in some sort of activity. Following this, she started going to the gym and her fitness gradually started to build. “I can’t do much with my upper body but I got the go ahead to use the cycle and treadmill. It was really satisfying feeling my strength and fitness build.”

Following some surgery, she suffered a slight setback in her fitness but she didn’t let it stop her trying. “I had to rest after a couple of operations. If I didn’t feel strong enough to use a bike or a treadmill, I’d visit a spa pool in Eltham and do more gentle exercise there.”

Jane soon started to feel stronger again and was introduced to a couple of weight machines she could use. But while she’s thrilled about how much her fitness has improved, it’s the mental differences she’s experienced which she’s just pleased with.

“The feel-good factor is so important,” she said. “I don’t feel so depressed anymore, and I rarely get upset now. I can’t believe how much better I feel generally. Before I discovered GGA I would just take my children to school, head back home and feel sorry for myself. I was eating and drinking too much and this really wasn’t doing me any good.

“My life is so much different now. I’d been suffering from swelling in my legs which could be really uncomfortable but since I’ve taken up exercise it’s reduced a lot. In fact, I notice that if I don’t exercise as much it returns. I’ve also stopped taking so many painkillers.”

And she has nothing but praise for the GGA team. “Everyone I’ve spoken to there has been brilliant. They’ve provided me with so much information, encouraged me and probably put up with my moaning! They often suggested different activities for me to try – I’m now thinking of giving Tai Chi a go.”

“Physical activity is definitely part of my daily routine now – I even exercise on holiday! I was feeling so down before I found GGA. I’d been taking anti depressants but I decided that I didn’t want to be medicated anymore; I wanted to try something different.”

“I feel my life has changed completely for the better and getting out and starting some exercise is the reason why. Every class I’ve been to has been great fun and they all let you go at your own pace.

“If anyone else is reading this currently feeling the same way I was, just give it a go! You won’t regret it.”

Paul Day's story

Paul first spoke to a GGA advisor at an event at Charlton House two years ago. He weighed 20 stone and thought it was time he worked towards becoming healthier.

Paul first spoke to a GGA advisor at an event at Charlton House two years ago. He weighed 20 stone and thought it was time he worked towards becoming healthier.

He said: “The advisor really encouraged me and gave me lots of ideas on how to become more physically active. He put me in contact with a few different classes which matched my level of fitness and it went from there”

Paul decided to continue with Taekwondo as it was the activity he enjoyed the most.

“It nearly killed me at first!” Paul remembers, “but the regular phone calls from the GGA advisors were really encouraging. They congratulated me every step of the way and often sent through links with lots of advice.

“It was nice to know that someone was taking notice. The advisors encouraged me to walk and strengthen to improve my overall health. My knees are quite bad nowadays so I couldn’t do anything too high-impact, but in the past two years I’ve gone from 20 stone to 15!”

After keeping up his physical activity programme for two years, Paul has ambitions to turn it into something more than a hobby: “This is definitely part of my life now; I’m even thinking about going into coaching, maybe with the Taekwondo or more general fitness training.

“I never thought this would have happened a couple of years ago!

“I’d definitely recommend this service to anyone wishing to get healthier – all the advisors I spoke to were so encouraging and being able to talk about your progress really helps to keep you on track.

Ken Jackson's story

Ken found out about Charlton Athletic Community Trust's Men’s Health Group after attending a walking group and bumping into Matt Phillips, a coordinator for the programme. After the walk, they would go for a cup of tea, and it became clear that Ken was going through a difficult time in his life. 

Ken found out about Charlton Athletic Community Trust's Men’s Health Group after attending a walking group and bumping into Matt Phillips, a coordinator for the programme. After the walk, they would go for a cup of tea, and it became clear that Ken was going through a difficult time in his life. 

Talking to Matt, head in hands, he opened up about the depression from which he suffered. He had lost his job, his marriage and his home in a relatively short space of time, and he moved in with his mum; who herself was suffering from dementia. 

To add to the hefty weight of his mental health and wellbeing, he found himself becoming a carer as well, putting his own problems to one side in order to prioritise his mum. It all seemed too much. But after being made aware of a program to help unburden this weight, Matt began to notice a change in his attitude, simply through the talks he had with Ken over some cake and tea. 

The Men’s Health Group took him in, and he found a range of activities to take his mind away from the problems that seemed all too painful before. Branching off from this, he also got involved in walking football at Eltham Goals on Tuesday mornings to help him release any tension that may have been building throughout the week.  Not only this, but he had people to talk to. 

After his mum’s passing, Matt recognised Ken to really take control of his life independently. He now comes down to the club regularly with a much more positive attitude, the social aspect on its own helping him feel not so alone.

Marllene's story

Marllene has attended the Charlton Park Nordic Walk session since day 1 and is still attending today!

Marllene has attended the Charlton Park Nordic Walk session since day 1 and is still attending today!

Nordic Walking is a full body exercise that is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, the use of poles helps to take the weight off lower body joints and is good to propel you forward.

Marllene has always been quite active, enjoying country walks with her husband when she has time, but she said that as she got older she found that things got in the way preventing her being as active as she would like.

When she first attended the Charlton Park walk Marllene was plesently surprised at how much better it was than normal walking, “Instead of just walking its structured and it’s a far more energetic thing to do” she said “if I miss a week I really do miss not doing it”

She particularly likes that she is able to take part with a group of people that everyone gets along with.

“I walk a lot faster now, and I get a lot more out of it. All round its been a really good thing, before I just walked at the same pace, but now I feel that my fitness levels have really gone up.

Jean's story

School crossing patrol officer, Jean, was made aware of the Macmillan coffee morning hosted by Greenwich Get Walking at the end of September last year. Along with a few of her managers, who were already walk leaders, Jean attended the coffee morning and from there was inspired to get walking herself.

School crossing patrol officer, Jean, was made aware of the Macmillan coffee morning hosted by Greenwich Get Walking at the end of September last year. Along with a few of her managers, who were already walk leaders, Jean attended the coffee morning and from there was inspired to get walking herself.

‘I felt like it would help me get out of the house’ she stated.

Following on from the event Jean decided to attend the Woolwich health walk on a Tuesday and she said ‘attending this walk helped a lot and it makes you feel better in yourself.’ Jean reflected that when she started the walk she was a slow walker, but that the walk leader was very supportive and helped her to improve.

The Woolwich health walks encouraged Jean to take the opportunity to train to become a walk leader herself and to support the group she walks with.

Jean concluded with ‘A lot more people should get walking, it keeps you active and is healthier’ 

Mark Bugg's story

 Mark, an MP for Moving On at the Greenwich Learning Disability Peoples Parliament, is also a trained walk leader for Greenwich Get Walking and overcoming his many health conditions that would prevent many from exercising, but not Mark.

 Mark, an MP for Moving On at the Greenwich Learning Disability Peoples Parliament, is also a trained walk leader for Greenwich Get Walking and overcoming his many health conditions that would prevent many from exercising, but not Mark.

Very enthusiastically Mark starts off his walk with introducing himself and the walk, before encouraging everyone out of the Trinity Methodist Community Church in Plumstead and onto the start of the walk, where he leads his peers in the sports development group around the local area. Usually when walk leaders finish their training they are given a set walk and each week they take that path, with Mark’s group he bases the route that he takes on the ability of the members of the walking group that day, for example if there are more members of the group that day who are in wheelchairs or less mobile then the walk would be shorter.  

One of Marks aim for becoming a walk leader was to do his own sponsored walk.  ‘I wanted to be a walk leader to do a sponsored walk to raise money for the charity’, this will begin at the Trinity Methodist Community Church and finish at The Valley in Charlton.

Mark says ‘Walking makes me happy and I like looking after people’. 

Chris Smith's story

When you’ve been on a journey towards a healthy life style for a while, it’s quite common to hit a plateau. Often the best way to deal with this is to mix things up, which is exactly what Chris Smith from Eltham did.

When you’ve been on a journey towards a healthy life style for a while, it’s quite common to hit a plateau. Often the best way to deal with this is to mix things up, which is exactly what Chris Smith from Eltham did.

Chris achieved a fantastic 10-stone weight loss through Slimming World a few years ago. He also quit smoking and started going to his local gym, but began to lose motivation. Soon, some of the weight crept back on and he started smoking again.

“I knew what I had to do,” Chris said, “I just needed a little motivation. I’d been going to the gym but I wasn’t enjoying it. And when you don’t enjoy something, you don’t want to keep it up!”

So when he saw a flyer about Football Fans in Training (FFIT) at his GP surgery, he knew that was exactly what he needed to carry on improving his health and fitness so he went along to the next session.

“It was great,” he said. “You do some classroom-based work on healthy eating and living healthier, then we go outside into the stadium to do some fitness work.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but it sounded a lot better than using a treadmill at the gym on my own, and it was. They’re a really nice bunch of blokes. You can have a laugh and a joke but still be sensible and take the sessions seriously because we’re all there for the same reason. We all encourage each other.”

It was this encouragement, plus a visit from a special guest, Charlton legend Bob Bolder halfway through the course, which gave Chris and the FFIT group an extra boost.

“The camaraderie between us all is great and everyone running the sessions are always willing you to do well. Bob was great, a real laugh. He gave us all some more encouragement and joined in himself. He said he’d be chasing us next time!”

Since starting FFIT, Chris has kick-started his weight loss again and is almost back to the same size he was at when he left Slimming World. But this time, he’s also huge improvements in his fitness and has learnt a lot about his eating habits, despite food not being his main concern.

He said: “I’ve been eating healthily for a long time, thanks to attending Slimming World, but now, although my plate sizes are a lot smaller, I’m still full up.

“I’ve never liked wasting food so, beforehand, if I cooked a couple more potatoes than I needed, I’d add them to my plate. Now I’ve learnt more about portion control I cook less, so I eat as much as I need to without any food going in the bin.”

After attending FFIT for a few weeks, he decided to try the walking football sessions, which are also run by CACT. They seemed like a good way to continue his hard work, despite never really being a fan of the sport.

“I’m not really a football fan, I don’t think I’d kicked a ball for about 15 years, since my son was small, but I thought it’d be a good way to build on what I’d achieved with FFIT.

And it didn’t take him long to see some results. “I couldn’t even really walk in a straight line with a ball when I first started. Now I can turn a lot quicker and my agility has really improved.

“When I used to go to the gym, as soon as I felt a tiny niggle I’d just stop my session and go home. Now, if I feel a twinge I’ll either try and walk through it or stop for a few minutes and re-join the session when I’m ready.

“All the guys tell me when I’m improving too; it’s so encouraging to know I’m not the only one who can tell I’m getting better.

His advisor Matt Phillips, who runs both FFIT and the walking football sessions, is really impressed with him.

He said: “He’s moving a lot faster now, but it’s been a pleasure to see his confidence grow. He feeds off of everyone when he gets a compliment, which really pushed him to improve. He does two walks a week too, with Greenwich Get Walking, and has recently moved up to a ramble, which is a harder session.

“Seeing him grow from someone who couldn’t walk without getting out of breath to what he’s achieving now is fantastic. He embraces everything, and captures what the FFIT is about.

“I’m really proud of him.”

As for the future, Chris will be carrying on with the walking football sessions, walking and healthy eating, with his next goal to play at a walking football tournament once his fitness increases a bit more.

“I’ve also been told about the Greenwich Healthy Families cookery courses, which I’m interested in. My next goal is to quit smoking. Matt’s told me about CACT’s stop-smoking programme, so I it’s great to know they’ll be there to help me when I’m ready.

“If anyone’s interested in getting healthier with FFIT, I’d simply tell them to go for it. One hundred per cent. The course is so encouraging and you have the chance to make new friends. It’s so much better than plodding on a treadmill by yourself. As long as it’s something you want to do, once you start, you won’t be able to stop!”

Chris Smith Updated's story

Since we last spoke to Chris at the end of last year, he started to attend the Greenwich Get Walking Eltham Park South Health walk and has since trained to become a walk leader and the first volunteer walk leader at Eltham since the conception of Greenwich Get Walking. Chris has also increased his fitness by becoming a volunteer leader on the Oxleas Ramble, a Grade 3 walk, and is setting a good example to people joining the walks as part of a healthy lifestyle change.

Since we last spoke to Chris at the end of last year, he started to attend the Greenwich Get Walking Eltham Park South Health walk and has since trained to become a walk leader and the first volunteer walk leader at Eltham since the conception of Greenwich Get Walking. Chris has also increased his fitness by becoming a volunteer leader on the Oxleas Ramble, a Grade 3 walk, and is setting a good example to people joining the walks as part of a healthy lifestyle change.

Since starting FFIT – the 12 week men’s health programme- in December 2016 Chris has made so many positive lifestyle changes with the support of the Charlton Athletic Community Trust Health Improvement Team.

‘It wasn’t the eating that was the problem, it was doing more exercise’

But that’s not all, to help with the sustainability of that changes that he has made during FFIT, Chris has been keeping up his attendance at Walking Football and has also started to attend the Active for Health, Exercise to Music class with a fellow FFIT participant.