RESTART Programme helps Woman lose over 2 Stone!
In this article we take a look at how we have partnered a West Midlands Housing Association and together are helping to tackle customers’ mental health issues.
Meet Dawn Jones; a bubbly, chatty woman who lives in Malvern. Friendly and at ease, it is hard to imagine that just months previously Dawn was in a very different place. She explained: “My struggles with mental health began five years ago when my Mum died; I used to see her every day so it was a very hard time for me. At the same time I became a carer for my step dad who had dementia. Then two years ago I split up from my partner and experienced some really challenging times with my children one of whom has learning difficulties. It all got on top of me and I attempted suicide.” Prior to this, Dawn – a Fortis Living customer for more than 20 years – had signed up for a Fitness Programme organised by the housing association, but following the death of her mother, she felt unable to carry on with it. Caroline Winnall, the association’s Health and Well-being Advisor, had formed a positive relationship with Dawn and noticed that she was not taking part in organised activities. In February 2019, together with Clarence Park Health Suite, she launched a new programme called RESTART, a Malvern based project open to all customers who receive a 10 week gym membership at Clarence Park Health Suite with weekly goal setting sessions and instructor support, as well as – importantly – mental health coaching. Participants have one to ones with mental health coach Jane Taylor, looking at barriers to lifestyle changes, building resilience as well as nutritional support and workshops.
As planning for the programme commenced, Caroline decided that it would perfectly suit Dawn and as the launch date neared she called her and invited her in. Caroline said “When I met Dawn again I was really upset to see how she had gone downhill. She told me she was in a really dark place and was on anti-depressants as well as high dosages of sleeping tablets. We decided to complete a health and well-being questionnaire to help kick start some positive habits and coping strategies and help her break the cycle she was in.” The questionnaire revealed that Dawn’s mental health was rock bottom; not only had she put on weight, her sleep, mood and concentration were all poor. This is when the transformation began.
Since beginning the programme, Dawn’s body fat – which came in at 49.6 per cent – is now at a healthier 46.8 per cent and her BMI has gone down from 36 to 33. Dawn has lost over 2 stone and 2lbs! But it’s not just her physical health that has improved, Dawn has noticed a marked improvement in her mental health and she puts this down to the programme and the support she has received from Caroline and the team at Clarence Park Health Suite. She explained “The mental health support I have received has been fantastic and I can’t thank Fortis enough; I have built up my resilience and self help has now well and truly kicked in.” Of course, physical health and mental health go hand in hand and Dawn has seen a great improvement in her physical abilities. She now visits the gym 5 times a week. She said “Some gyms make you feel self conscious; however the gym at Clarence Park in Malvern which I come to isn’t like that at all. There is all sorts of shapes and sizes of people and also a great sense of community. I have made some really good friends.” Caroline said “We are so proud of Dawn, she has made so many positive steps since she started the programme. She really is an inspiration and is now motivating others on the course. We actively encourage families to exercise together and Dawn now brings one of her daughter’s, a keen footballer, to the gym. Another important factor is that we make sure our gym membership on such programmes is free as they can be prohibitively expensive and we don’t think this should be a barrier to better physical and mental health.”
So what does the future hold for Dawn? Will she continue with her new way of life when the programme comes to an end. “Absolutely! I have found a new lease of life and I feel so much better. I have given up smoking and although I haven’t worked for 17 years – I left school with no qualifications – I am working with a Fortis job coach and hope to go back to college with the hope of a good job at the end. “I am indebted to Caroline and her team at Fortis; mental health issues are debilitating and force you into an unhealthy downward spiral. The counselling and gym support I have received have helped me to turn my life around. I am looking forward to the next chapter!”
Fortis Living is part of Platform Housing Group which provides more than 45,000 homes from Herefordshire in the West to the Lincolnshire coast in the East, and from the Derbyshire Dales in the North to the Cotswolds in the South.
Could you benefit from similar support and advice Dawn has had? Contact us today to speak about an affordable Gym Membership and start making positive steps today!