Age UK East Sussex - Healthy Living Clubs

Age UK East Sussex (AUKES) have been successful in getting funding to pilot ‘Healthy Living Clubs’ for older people. AUKES is an independent charity in East Sussex aiming to promote the interests, and enhance the quality of later life for people in East Sussex. The organisation aims to assist people to maintain their independence, reduce poverty and social isolation and to promote social integration.

The Purpose

The project was to develop and test a model that facilitates behaviour change and where older people become engaged in and ultimately run Health Living Clubs themselves. We worked with people who are at risk of health inequalities and a University of Brighton Psychology MSc student evaluated the project.

The Method

The clubs were set up in Hastings, Eastbourne and Hailsham; potential participants were recruited via leaflet drops, press editorials, word of mouth, other organisations making referals and high profile launch events attracted more interested people. The clubs met fortnightly and had a varied programme of activities, usually some form of physical activity such as new age kurling, Boccia, walking; some information about healthier living provided by organisations such as the NHS and their Health Trainers and healthy eating, such as preparation of salads etc. A most important element of the project was the facilitation of social interaction between participants. This was done by just offering the space, an empathic and knowledgeable facilitator and bringing people together. There was a strong element of co-design to ensure buy in from the participants. The CUPP evaluator used the methods of participant observation, focus groups, surveys and semi-structured interviews.

The evaluation found that involvement in decision-making has been paramount, as one participant said: ‘I’ve never been to anything like this in my life, not where you put in [your requests] for what you want…This is a bit more varied’. After the 9 month running time of the clubs all three continued to meet; one of them has become the ‘Age UK East Sussex Walking Football’, a highly successful initiative working in partnership with the East Sussex Football Association.

The Outcome

The CUPP evaluation, no doubt, has helped secure funding from East Sussex County Council for another 3-year period for the running of Healthy Living Clubs in other East Sussex areas with high levels of health inequalities. The new clubs are now running in Bexhill, Sidley and Central St Leonards.