Helen Mariner, Communications Lead at Active Oxfordshire talks about the impact that physical activity programme Move Together is having on tackling loneliness and isolation through the power of moving more.
Introducing Move Together
Right now, 20,400 older people in Oxfordshire experience loneliness at least some of the time, and more than 130,000 people are living with two or more long term health conditions. But moving more can make a significant difference to not only preventing and managing health conditions, but on reducing loneliness, too.
“It’s good to know I’m not alone.” Move Together participant, 2022
In 2021, Move Together was launched across Oxfordshire in response to COVID-19, recognising that thousands of vulnerable people who were shielding or otherwise affected by the pandemic were at risk of becoming inactive. Move Together is co-ordinated by Active Oxfordshire in partnership with county and district councils and provides personalised support to help each individual start to move more, in a way that works for them. This includes activity packs, exercises to do at home and, critically, the chance to connect with other people in a similar situation at community activities, exercise classes or health walks. Local co-ordinators are on hand to provide advice and support through regular phone calls and home visits.
“I have enjoyed the phone calls which has given me encouragement to try and do more and I don’t feel alone. It has really motivated me, and it has helped that the person on the other end of the phone is lovely.”
“Through being a part of Move Together I haven’t felt alone and having someone to talk to for support and encouragement has made me feel less anxious and more motivated.”
More connected, confident and motivated
In total, Move Together has provided 1,700 people with support to move more. Out of the participants who had initial assessments, 59% felt sometimes or always isolated. One of the main themes emerging from Move Together’s wider benefits is the power of moving more as a driver to connect people together, increase confidence and reduce isolation. At a follow up review, 38% of people asked said that they have decreased their levels of loneliness as a result of engaging with Move Together.
“I’m exercising more and have made some social connections through my Zumba classes which have led to other social things like lunch clubs and meeting new people to talk to and share activities and ideas to know what else is out there.”
“Without Move Together, I wouldn’t be going out on my own…it has improved everything, it is hard to put a defining thing on it, it got me out of the house, got me some new friends to have a laugh with.”
The benefits of Move Together reach way beyond physical activity. People engaging with the programme are more connected, more confident and more motivated. Most importantly, they are being given the tools they need to stay active in the future – together.