Rachel Hodges-Cox, Churchdown Surgery’s Social Prescriber, created a Chatty Café which patients can be referred into. The café takes place at Churchdown Community Centre and is open to everyone and provides an opportunity for those who may be lonely, isolated or may have a long-term health condition to get together and connect with others each week. Many of those who attend are picked up by a community mini bus. The café is facilitated by a group of Health Champions, who volunteer their time to ensure the café happens each week.
Some of those who attend the café don’t have the opportunity to get out and exercise, however, these could benefit the most from movement and physical activity. Active Gloucestershire and Goals Beyond Grass have partnered with Churchdown GP to attend the café twice a month via Active Gloucestershire’s Get Out Get Active programme, to allow attendees to participate in some inclusive gentle games that can be played seated or standing. Get Out Get active (GOGA) began in 2016 and is a national programme created to bring disabled and non-disabled people together to be active. It looks to engage the least active communities in fun and inclusive ways. In Gloucestershire, we are working with various delivery providers, targeting older adults and those with long term health conditions to be active together.
This partnership is a fantastic showcase for how to improve access to physical activity by offering the right provision in the right space. Some participants stated that they often don’t get out of their house, which highlights the importance of the Chatty café. This may also mean that they are not benefiting from movement and physical activity.
One participant said “[The activities] Keeps arms, legs and brain working. Helps me otherwise won’t get out of the house.” Another said that attending was boosting their mental wellbeing “because otherwise I’d be sat at home, wouldn’t join in- reason to get out”. The activities take place in a room just off where the café meet, with the doors always open, so attendees can come and take part in activities as and when they like.
Providing these gentle games has been really welcomed by the attendees of the chatty café:
“[It’s] Added a fun activity to the café. It’s different and gives focus as opposed to just chatting”
“With a little exercise, I like being with other people. Good for my cognitive function as I think about what I’m doing and what games I can do from my wheelchair. Great atmosphere.”
“Helps overcome social anxiety. Coaches are welcoming and encouraging which reduces anxious feelings.”
Based on the success of the café in general, Churchdown Surgery have launched a new café in Innsworth, helping to reach those located slightly further away for the GP. With the success of the activities, they have also asked Goals Beyond Grass to deliver a monthly session in the new café as well, which will also be funded through Get Out Get Active.
Kieran Franks – Sport Development Manager at Goals Beyond Grass said:
“Its been fantastic to work alongside Active Gloucestershire to deliver the Get Out Get Active project, aiming to get adults with long term health conditions active. Ben at Active Gloucestershire linked us in with the team at the Churchdown Surgery, who facilitate the “Chatty Café”, which helps reduce social isolation for their patients. We have since worked closely with the team at the surgery to deliver low intensity activities which are inclusive for all abilities and levels of mobility.
"We have delivered a mixture of fun games such as New Age Curling, Boccia, Giant Connect 4 and many more which the participants at the chatty café have thoroughly enjoyed. The feedback we have received has been great, knowing that these activities are benefiting both patients physical and mental health has been excellent. We look forward to continuing the sessions and beginning the new sessions at another new Chatty Café in Innsworth!”
Rachel Hodges-Cox – Social Prescriber at Churchdown GP said:
“Goals Beyond Grass have enabled people to be active in a fun way, encouraging that connection with each other which is so important for mental well being. It’s been lovely to see that people with dementia can still enjoy the activities and also those living with chronic pain and wheelchair users. You certainly have put a smile on the faces of some of our less mobile and most vulnerable people in our community. Thank you for your community support and for lifting spirits.”
One participant also sent a letter of recommendation on behalf of the activities:
“After many years of not being able to mix with other people I started going to Chatty Cafe where the 1st Wednesday of the month Kane and Keiran (Goals Beyond Grass) came and set up some games that are accessible to everyone, all the games can be played seated.
At first I was nervous but the guys were so welcoming and encouraging that I began to play some games. Now I look forward to them coming as it encourages people to play games together who may not have anyone to talk to normally.
I am now a health champion at our local surgery and have asked the guys if they can come and do some games at the 2nd Chatty Cafe on a Thursday, as it is such a hit on a Wednesday.
A lot of people of the older generation get a lot of enjoyment from Goals beyond grass and i would absolutely love it if they could work with our group on a Thursday which includes elderly, isolated, and vulnerable people from the community.
Finally, I would like to thank the guys for everything they do not just in my groups but also for the community, they have helped so many people and I just hope they can continue to provide such a valuable service.”