Successful Taster Day for the new ‘Changing Lives’ programme in Somersham

On behalf of Somersham Parish Council, project leaders Penny Bryant (Parish Clerk) and Lucy Bird (Time Bank Co-ordinator) were delighted to welcome Shailesh Vara MP to the Changing Lives launch event on Saturday 2nd September 2017.  Shailesh Vara spent the first hour watching the Taster Day sessions and speaking with many attendees before formally launching the Changing Lives project with an excellent supporting opening speech at around 11 am.

Taster Day - group photo with Shailesh Vara MP.JPG

This exciting project was unveiled through the free Taster Day at the Millennium Pavilion in Somersham from 10am-3pm. ‘Changing Lives’ is a programme of activities specifically for people living with neurological conditions living in Somersham and it’s surrounding villages; Colne, Bluntisham, Earith, Pidley, Old Hurst, Woodhurst and Broughton.

The activities are targeted towards those who are affected by a neurological condition such as, but not exclusively, Parkinson’s, Dementia, MS or Stroke. The invitation extended to family, friends and carers who were welcome to share in any of the workshops on offer, refreshments, a buffet lunch and a chat with leading support organisations.

Cllr Steve Criswell, Chair of the County Council’s Communities and Partnership Committee and also Somersham Parish Council Chairman was at the launch and said “This is another example of the local community looking after it’s residents. The Changing Lives initiative helps people to live with certain conditions and remain a valued and active part of the community”

Julie Wilson, Area Development Manager for Parkinson’s UK, says: “Research has shown some promising results of the benefits of exercise for people living with Parkinson’s including improvements in mobility and balance. This project will help people with long term neurological conditions to manage their symptoms, improve their social support and emotional wellbeing.   I am really delighted to be part of such a vibrant and positive initiative, and cannot wait to see the outcomes from this project as it progresses.”

The activities available to try included Seated/Standing Exercise tailored to your needs, Nordic Walking or have a taste of the outdoors with ‘Into the Woods’ (Nature Ventures). All instructors are fully qualified and have experience working with neurological conditions. Attendees also created Community Bunting to enable participants to show off their creative talents. We were thrilled to report a number new Dementia Friends were created on the day following training with Hilary Shepperd from the Alzheimer’s Society.

The Taster Day will be followed by 12-week blocks of regular events hosted in Somersham, which will also include a workshop with local creative artist Syrah Arnold. Lucy Bird, Coordinator of Changing Lives and Somersham and Pidley Time Bank says, “We are really excited to be able to reach out to people living in this area to create a network where those affected by neurological conditions feel supported locally”. The project is a priority action and is funded by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Innovation Fund.

For more information visit the website https://changinglivessomersham.wordpress.com/. You can book onto any of the workshops by calling Lucy Bird on 01487 841359 or email changing.lives@somersham.org.

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