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Fitness in Mind launches Active Champions programme with Brentwood High Street event on World Mental Health Day

PUBLISHED: 13:31 10 October 2018

High Street, Brentwood. Picture: Melissa Page

High Street, Brentwood. Picture: Melissa Page

Melissa Page

To mark World Mental Health Day, a new volunteers programme has launched in a bid to bring the community's "superheroes" together.

Mental health service Fitness in Mind, based at the Brentwood Leisure Centre, has launched the Active Champions volunteer programme in partnership with Active Essex, Active Brentwood and Livewell Brentwood.

The programme is also being supported by Sport England and the National Lottery.

Volunteers will help promote local opportunities, recruit new community volunteers as well as work on projects and with businesses to ensure the borough gets active, gets social and gets involved.

Reality synthesiser of Fitness in Mind James Wheeler said: “The key to the success of the Fitness In Mind Brentwood programme has been the role of Active Champions, as they are able to demonstrate the benefits of peer support and physical activity, through lived experience of a mental health problem and a programme that has supported their personal recovery.

“Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes from The Incredible Hulk to The Incredibles Baby Jack Jack.

“Our community superheroes often go unrecognised and selflessly volunteer behind the scenes to make our neighbourhoods clean, happy and safe.

“Active Champions will promote young people with mental health problems as the next generation of community superheroes.”

A report on the programme, which was released in June, has received wide-spread support from minister for mental health and suicide prevention Jackie Doyle-Price, minister for sport and loneliness Tracey Crouch and MP for Brentwood and Ongar Alex Burghart.

The report on the three-year community sport activation fund programme asked the question: ‘does improving mental and social wellbeing through peer support help tackle inactivity?’

The report highlighted the role of the national involvement standards developed by the National Survivor User

Network, and the concept of ‘nothing about us without us’.

Today, Wednesday, October 10, an Active Champions Takeover event is taking place until 4pm outside Marks and Spencer in Brentwood High Street.

Fitness In Mind sports coaches will be helping local residents to #GetActive with taster sessions, peer supporters will be helping people #GetSocial with some of the service’s courses and active champions will also be encouraging residents to #GetInvolved by volunteering.

To coincide with World Mental Health Day’s theme of ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’, the young teams from Active Essex, Active Brentwood, Fitness In Mind Brentwood and LiveWell Brentwood will be including taster sessions including teen yoga at lunchtime and street dance after school.

Active Champion Lou Kingcott said: “As someone with mental health problems and a physical disability, it’s meant that positive life opportunities are sometimes hard to find, especially with the stigma of mental ill health.

“Being involved with the Fitness In Mind programme over the last three years has saved my life and improve not only my mental health but my physical health and social wellbeing too.

“As an Active Champion, I now have purpose and friends, and I’m able to share my experiences to get inactive and socially isolated people active, social and involved with their local community.”

To find out more visit activechampions.org.uk or email hello@activechampions.org.uk

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