A community sport hub formed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is enabling local people to enjoy sport and improve their physical and mental health.
The pandemic has caused many difficulties across the country. But out of adversity comes opportunity, and the opportunity to provide more sport and physical activity in south-west Glasgow has led to the creation of Active Arden Community Sport Hub, in partnership with a housing association.
Forming of the hub
Early in 2019, Glasgow Sport established a new four-year plan, ‘Community Sports Hubs – Changing Lives through Active Communities 2019-2023’, for the development of the hubs programme within the city and to empower communities to develop a locally driven offer in promoting the benefits of being physically active.
With over 200 hubs across Scotland, the National Lottery-funded programme brings together club and community organisations to understand local needs and provide opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and physical activity.
Through attending local networking meetings, links were established between the sports development officer for Glasgow Sport and Glen Oaks Housing Association, a social-rent housing provider in the Arden area.
Glen Oaks delivered a goConnect project that worked with vulnerable tenants such as people with anxiety and depression, long-term unemployed, carers and single parents. It aimed to help people who were feeling lonely and isolated, encouraging them to try new skills, courses and volunteering roles. Given the similarities between goConnect and Glasgow Sport’s hubs plan, Active Arden was created to tackle the significant health inequalities that existed in the local community.
Taking advantage of the housing associations links to the community and advertising through goConnect and their Newsletter, the hub started holding meetings with residents interested in the formation of a group to promote community integration through physical activity in Arden.
It was planned that opportunities would be open, easily affordable and accessible – breaking down the barriers to participation that currently exist in the area. The hub also planned to support local volunteers through training and education to ensure they have the skills needed to deliver and maintain these activities and develop the confidence of local residents to attend and volunteer within sport and physical activity.
Since its formation during lockdown in 2020, the hub has slowly been growing within the community through several organised activities.
A walking group which leaves the area from Glen Oaks has been regularly getting 10 locals pounding the pavements and local parks. Group fitness classes such as tai chi, clubbercise and chair exercises have also been held at the local community hall as well as delivered via Zoom when required. The hub has also gained funding to develop a community garden on a vacant lot in the heart of the estate.
Residents attending the activities have expressed a significant improvement in their general wellbeing with levels of anxiety dropping, confidence to leave the house rising and fitness levels improved.
A number of volunteers have already attended courses and workshops such as walk leaders and child wellbeing, with a view to undertaking volunteering coaching roles within the hub.
What they said
James Tonner, sport development officer at Glasgow Sport and community sport hub officer supporting Active Arden, said: “It has been great to work with the goConnect team at Glen Oaks Housing Association to help establish Active Arden.
"The Arden area of Glasgow has a very limited number of community groups and virtually no sports clubs, so opportunities for local residents to get active or even leave their house to meet others had been very limited.
“Building on work over the last few years, we have been able to use this period over lockdown to establish a formal Active Arden group with local office bearers and a constitution. Now we have these steps in place, we can now look forward to moving out of lockdown, increasing our profile in the local community, gaining more members and making a real impact on the wellbeing of the community."
Erin from the goConnect project at Glen Oaks Housing added: “Local tenants and residents were previously invited to forums and consultations to gauge interest and opinions on what the Arden area would benefit from. As a result, the goConnect project at Glen Oaks Housing Association teamed up with Glasgow Sport to establish Active Arden: a community-led health and fitness programme.
“Since its establishment, Active Arden continues to promote health and wellbeing activities to its residents. We have gained funding to develop a community garden in the heart of the estate so that people with mobility issues can still be active without strenuous exercise."
Local resident and Active Arden committee member, K (65) said: “I have had a lot of illnesses and never been able to exercise as it was too painful. I was persuaded to join the hubs yoga class, then built up to the tai chi – it was the only hour in the day where I felt relaxed with no thoughts running through my head.
"From there, I joined the walking group and have now even joined the clubbercise class – I’ll try anything now!
“Not only has my physical health improved but my mental health is much better.
"I’m happier, have made new friends and these classes have kept me busy. I’m now on the Active Arden committee and looking forward to providing more activities for residents to try.”