A new project in Dundee is supporting people in ethnically diverse communities to be more included in their community and have more opportunities for physical activity.
Community Strides is a partnership between jogscotland, part of scottishathletics, and SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health).
The programme is among 17 projects to benefit from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity fund, delivered by the Scottish Government, sportscotland, Spirit of 2012 and The Robertson Trust with the aim of changing lives and creating a more inclusive and healthier nation.
Breaking down barriers
Research shows that people in ethnically diverse communities have low levels of physical activity and community inclusion, Community Strides aims to change that. The project is helping break down barriers and address taboos of physical activity and mental health to ensure people across Scotland regardless of age, gender or ethnicity can lead happy and healthy lives.
The project will eventually target communities in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen however the pilot scheme in Dundee has already proved successful.
The jogging group meet at the Dundee International Women’s Centre weekly. For many of the women taking part, it was the first time they had exercised in public. It was a big leap for many of them, which has taken courage.
Now around 15 women are active in the newly established running class, one of the participants is Nasreen, who wasn’t involved in any sporting activity before joining the class.
Nasreen, 49, was concerned that her fitness levels would hold her back in the class. But after plenty of encouragement in the early weeks from the jog leaders she is feeling the benefits and is even considering taking up swimming.
She said: “The only active thing I was doing was walking. I wasn’t really aware of sporting opportunities in my area, I’m not really a gym person. I always felt that I should be more active but didn’t know what to do.
“I had never done anything like this before, even remotely, so I was worried about it. My fitness level was a huge worry, but I seem to be able to do it.
“The jog leaders have always been so encouraging and friendly. It’s like being out with friends. Everyone looks out for you and has lots of praise, even when you are the last one.
“It’s really helped me. I feel good and very positive after a run. I feel that I can actually achieve things if I set my mind to it. Myself and my sister have been out for a run on our own a few times too. I feel that my overall health and breathing have improved.”
Community Strides project worker for jogscotland, Laura Kirkland, said: “Seeing the joggers at Dundee International Women’s Centre really embracing our new jogging group has been absolutely brilliant. We know a lot of people can feel a bit anxious before starting a new physical activity for the first time, and they were no exception.
“But jogscotland is designed to be really supportive, as well as sociable, and they’ve absolutely flourished. Seeing how determined they are, and how far they’ve come, is really inspiring.”
Billy Watson, Chief Executive of SAMH said: “We know that participating in physical activity can improve confidence, self-esteem, and mood; but that there are often barriers to taking part and that it can be difficult to get started. It is therefore fantastic to see the impact that this group is having in Dundee.
“We hope that the Community Strides project will help to provide accessible activities to more people than ever before, and look forward to continuing to work with our partners on this.”