£1 sports sessions to get north Norfolk up and active

Sports Clubs and Hubs at Holt Community Hub. Centre left, Graham Keen from Sport England hands over a cheque to councillor Glyn Williams.   
Picture: ANTONY KELLY Sports Clubs and Hubs at Holt Community Hub. Centre left, Graham Keen from Sport England hands over a cheque to councillor Glyn Williams. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Friday, August 15, 2014
9:46 AM

Super-cheap activity sessions are set to be offered across north Norfolk in a major bid to get residents up and moving for the sake of their physical and mental wellbeing.

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Latest statistics show that more than two thirds of adults in north Norfolk are either overweight or obese, higher than the national average.

The project, boosted by a £211,000 Sport England grant, will see 10-week activity cycles for £1 per hourly session - aimed at getting 2,000 more people active and more clubs set up.

North Norfolk District Council hopes its project will attract reluctant or timid residents, afraid to visit sports centres full of confident so-called “gym bunnies”.

Communities will be asked what they want, where they want it, and at what time.

Venues could include village halls, to help counter rural transport difficulties.

Suggested activities, all run by professionals, might range from table tennis, yoga, dance, martial arts, keep-fit, swimming and street dance, to boxing, beach games, and “boogie babies” - parents dancing with infants.

The three-year Sports Hubs and Clubs project was launched on Tuesday at Holt Community Hub, on Charles Road, which is already home to mobile gym sessions, zumba, and an active Nordic walking group.

Activities will begin in Holt, Cromer and Sheringham in January, switch to Fakenham and Wells in 2016, and to North Walsham and Stalham in 2017.

Once established in a community, the council hopes activities will be well-supported enough to continue when the project sessions end.

Council cabinet member for leisure services Glyn Williams said the drive was to set up a successful and sustainable community run organisations - not “heavily-subsidised infrastructure.”.

He added that the three-year aim was for an extra 2,022 people to be taking part in activities across the district, 10 new sports clubs to be set up for young people aged 14-25, and six new community hub venues to be established.

The main target groups will be the over 60s, who account for more than one third of the district’s population, and the 14-25 age group, because of the high sports drop-out rate among teenagers which can continue into adulthood.

Figures show that only 53.7pc of adults in the district do two-and-a-half hours of physical activity each week, below the national average.

But Karl Read, the council’s sports and leisure services manager, said all ages would be welcome at the sessions and he hoped questionnaires would reveal the reasons why people might be reluctant to join in so that staff could try and help them overcome barriers.

“We know that some people are put off by people in Lycra lifting heavy weights and want something much lower key, that they will fit in with,” he said. “We want to help them because activity has so many physical and mental health benefits.”

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