Get Berkshire Active on behalf of Sport England (SE) are administering the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF). The TIF forms part of the Sport England's £210 million support package to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis.

The results of the regular survey undertaken by Sport England revealed that certain groups were being disproportionately affected by the pandemic and it was significantly impacting their ability to be physically active. In response to this research, the Tackling Inequalities Fund has been created to try and help reduce the negative impact on activity levels in these under-represented groups, with a specific focus on:

• Lower socio-economic groups

• Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities

• Disabled people

• People with long-term health conditions.

One of the early projects funded was to help relaunch the Age UK Reading Happy Feet service.

Matt Taylor, Age UK Reading CEO said:

'It's essential for older people, especially those with mobility or cognitive impairments, to stay active and engaged with their community, at an appropriate level for their ability. The baseline requirement for this is that their feet are healthy, comfortable and allow them to feel in control. When a person's toenails become overlong they bring discomfort and sometimes, pain. This can make walking uneasy, unattractive and a serious fall more likely. This can affect the ability and confidence of an individual to stay active'

To add further benefits to this valuable service GBA trained staff involved in their 'Helping people become active' workshop, this free, 1 hour workshop takes attendees through; benefits of being physically active, national guidelines and practical tips, key signposting resources and how to have positive conversations. This gave staff the knowledge and skills to have positive conversations about physical activity with individuals accessing the Happy Feet service.

Andrea, one of the nail cutters that took part in the training said:

'I would [use the skills learnt to] encourage them to go out and exercise depending on their mobility or if not encourage exercise indoors using the cards to keep them active'

GBA also provided AGE UK Reading with a batch of Fall Proof cards to be handed to individuals using the service. These cards provide guidance on 6 simple exercises that can be done at home to help improve strength and balance.

Christine Cimmino from Age UK Reading had this to say about the Fall Proof cards :

'We've found them hugely beneficial. The design of them is faultless and has provided regular opportunities for some good banter with our service users. For example, when we get someone called Barbara into the Happy Feet session we say 'come on, you can bend it like Barbara!' The way the exercises are described and presented on the cards using 'real' people means they are well received and seen as exercises that can be done, for individuals who, if simply told to do 'exercises' might not see themselves in this light. The cards have been distributed throughout our organisation and colleagues have also taken them home for their own family and friends. Once restrictions have eased we will also be able to use them within our social clubs'

In total 540 individuals booked onto the Happy Feet service during the funded period.

This project has helped to consolidate a working partnership between the two organisations and GBA and Age UK Reading are already discussing ways in which they can continue to work together in the future.

Photo of Nail Cutter, Matt and client Janice with one of the sets of Fall Proof cards.

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