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

• Ethnically diverse communities

• Disabled people

• People with long-term health conditions.

GBA were introduced to the Windsor and Maidenhead Community Forum (WAMCF), a charity working with Ethnically and culturally diverse communities. WAMCF provides a way for people of different faiths and cultures to come together and contribute towards enriching the lives of everyone within the community. The faiths include Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Brahma Kumaris and Humanists.

A photo of one of the zoom sessions

During lockdown due to Covid, many places of worship have been partially or fully closed. This clearly has been distressing for the various congregations. By nature these communities are a primary social outlet and their loss has made a massive impact, particularly for those faith members living alone. This has had emotional consequences with an increase in mental health issues.

The Joy of Movement project was funded through TIF and provided a new physical activity dance programme for ethnically diverse communities to come together weekly and enjoy a range of different dance styles. Within WAMCF the representatives of each faith have been meeting remotely (via Zoom) finding new ways of supporting and working with each other and the impact has been fantastic.

Paul Samuels, Trustee Windsor & Maidenhead Community Forum (WAMCF) and Joy of Movement programme organiser said:

'As the Interfaith Group within the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, the support we have had from Get Berkshire Active has been tremendous. It has enabled us to organise four 6-week programmes of dance exercise via Zoom for the over 50's. This has been enormously beneficial to the nearly 40 participants to date. In the nearly 20 participant testimonials we've received they focus on the physical, mental, and social benefits of participating during the challenging times of lockdown. They also offer great praise for our tutor, Anisha, focusing on her enthusiasm, talent and empathy".

The Tutor Anisha also won one of the 9th Get Berkshire Active Awards which has been an added successful. Paul Samuels said:

"Anisha has proved herself to be a real star and the most wonderful asset for our WAMCF Joy of Movement Programme"!

Due to the success of the first Joy of Movement programme, WAMCF were funded again for a further project from May.

Feedback from the members has been collected throughout the programme and so far 100% of participants have said that it has improved their physical or mental health and 100% would recommend the session to a friend.

The Joy of Movement testimonials

I had just had a bad fall when it all started, and I felt a bit unsteady on my feet. But the whole thing was so infectiously 'jolly' that I joined in as best I could. You can do it at your own level and I have definitely improved. It is great on many levels, physically, mentally and socially. Even on Zoom we laugh quite a lot and probably go off at tangents making up our own variations. But we are all up and moving!

I learned about the Joy of Movement right toward the end of the programme. But it was a significant event for me. After over a year of essentially lockdown, I finally was able to move about in my living room with other people. Being led by a cheerful, energetic, positive woman who encouraged us along the way. It was the movement that was so essential. I suffer from fibromyalgia and terribly miss hydrotherapy. With this class I felt a relief from some of the pains. I can't wait until the next one begins.

It has been a real joy participating in Anisha's dance classes. During lockdown, my exercise has been limited to walking, so moving the rest of the body within the rhythms of dance has been great. Anisha is an excellent teacher, and such a pleasant person; encouraging and coaxing without pressuring people to join in.

I am enjoying it immensely and have even found it possible to improve movements and muscle memory weekly! Anisha is so enthusiastic and I look forward to my Tuesday nights as it is so exciting to see others as I live alone. I feel part of a family group. I'm very keen to start again in March. My dog joins in occasionally too! Thanks to all who enable this initiative.

The Joy of Movement classes are one of the highlights of my week. Anisha's delightful and inspirational classes shed a ray of light on an otherwise lonely lockdown, since I lost my husband to Covid last year. I always feel exhilarated after the Tuesday evening sessions and ready to face my world again, such as it is.

By the end of each class, I feel like I've had a good workout AND have had fun … a real psychological booster, especially after sitting at a computer most of the day.

Thanks for organising the fitness class. I am enjoying it. Benefits are physical and mental well-being as this activity is helping to exercise and move in lock down. Helping me with joint mobility. Anisha is a good teacher with consideration for the age group and exercise routines.

It's been fun meeting up with the others in the class and this has helped me feel less isolated. Thanks for organising the classes. It's great that there is another session after the weeks break.

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