Active Oadby and Wigston has post-Covid vision to improve community wellbeing with physical activities 

By Lara Alsaid

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on how important social life and exercise are for people´s physical and mental health, according to an activities group in Leicester. 

Active Oadby and Wigston is an organisation that aims to deliver programmes to get residents within the borough to improve their health and wellbeing. 

Ross Levy, Community Health and Improvement Officer for Active Oadby and Wigston, said: “A group walk for an hour around the park with the sun shining, reduces isolation and improves mental and physical wellbeing. It is fantastic to have that opportunity.” 

Group walks are one of their programmes

Seven district councils in Leicester have similar teams to Active Oadby and Wigston and share the same inspiration to increase activity for their residents.  

The organisation has a close partnership with the NHS (National Health Service) and operates a lot on the module of social prescribing, which is basically a prescription by medical practitioners to someone to do an activity. 

Mr Levy continued: “It is brilliant for people in our programme that have been referred because of low mood or bereavement etc.”  

The group walk is a growing concept within the organisation that has a powerful sense of community and commitment.  

Mr Levy added: “It is lovely how something as accessible as walking can have such a significant difference to people’s lives who participate.” 

After the Covid isolation, people have been excited to get back out and enjoy gentle exercise and have a chat with people from different walks of life. 

Mr Levy believes people have learned from Covid isolation and social exclusion that it is important to raise awareness of this organisation and for people to know their opportunities and what is available to them in their communities. 

Within the programme, participants have a close community with WhatsApp group chats where they inspire and cheer each other on.  

Most of Active Oadby and Wigston’s programmes are free of charge or incredibly low cost.  

Most activities have an age limit of 18 but they do more targeted activities for families, for example during February half term 2022 they organised family activity days in some of the social housing properties within the borough. 

There are a lot of opportunities to volunteer for students as well. The organisation is always looking for volunteers and urged students across De Montfort University (DMU) to contact Active Oadby and Wigston. 

For more information visit its website https://www.activeoadbywigston.org.uk 

Leicester residents urged to get booster jab amid Omicron fears

By Thomas Carter

Fear has gripped the nation this week amid concerns of a new Covid-19 variant that could bring tighter restrictions leading up to Christmas.

Coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 (now labelled Omicron) was recently discovered by South African scientists, with 22 cases already confirmed in the UK.

As a result, the government has made the third ‘booster’ Covid-19 vaccine available for all adults, in the hope it will lead to a larger percentage of the country to be protected against the latest variant.

Similarly to the initial vaccine rollout, adults will become eligible for their booster jab in grouped age bands, with the gap between vaccinations being reduced from six months to three.

Philippa Blakeley, 21, an International Relations MA student at De Montfort University, said: “I will be having a booster jab as soon as I am able to.

“For me personally, getting a booster jab is the best way to keep any form of normality within the country, enabling us to see friends and family.

“Speaking as someone who is enjoying the return to ‘more like normal’, my mental health could not cope with another lockdown. 

“Similarly, I think the wider impacts of the lockdowns on people’s mental health and also on their education is something we have failed to fully try and understand throughout the course of the pandemic.”

KEEPING TRACK: Leicester residents are continually urged to get tested for Covid-19

As with all Covid-19 variants, there is the danger of mutation that results in a strain evading the current vaccines, which would pose major problems in the country’s fight against the pandemic.

In addition to making the booster jab more widely available, the government has reintroduced mandatory face covering rules for indoor settings including retail shops, secondary schools and on public transport.

Philippa continued: “I definitely feel safer when wearing a face mask, and while numbers are high, or with the risk of the new variant, I am more than happy to wear one if it means I am able to continue doing the things I enjoy.”

As of Sunday (NOV28), vaccine uptake records show that 89 per cent of the population have received their first dose, 81 per cent have received their second dose, and 31 per cent have had the third booster jab.

Latest government data also shows that in the last 24 hours the UK recorded 39,716 positive cases and 159 deaths (statistics correct as of NOV30).

For advice on the new Omicron variant and to book a vaccination visit: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Leicester students encouraged to get coronavirus vaccine at pop-up clinics

by Abigail Beresford

People across Leicestershire are being encouraged to have the coronavirus vaccine, to protect them from the virus, as cases rise again across the county.

More than 1,300 cases were recorded in Leicester, the week commencing November 8, and 185 positive cases recorded on November 15.

There are worries in the community that cases are set to further rise again in December, with events occurring during the run up to Christmas.

Pop-up vaccination centres are being put in place across the county, to provide residents a place in which they can have easy access to the vaccine and contribute towards the fight against coronavirus.

Residents are able to receive their first dose, second dose and booster of the vaccine at the drop-in centres.

Last week, DMU students and staff were encouraged to attend a pop-up Covid-19 vaccination centre that was being held at the King Power Stadium.

The pop-up centre at the stadium ran from November 12-14, to give people time to make the decision to come down and visit. 

The stadium had queues of people waiting to receive either their first, second, or booster vaccine to protect themselves from the virus.

“I’m petrified of needles, but I knew that I needed to have the vaccine to make myself feel a bit safer as the cases are rising and to protect those around me,” said Charlie Atkinson, a third-year Textiles student at De Montfort University.

“After receiving my second dose, it felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders.”

Over 68 per cent of the UK population are now fully vaccinated, with 110 million doses having been administered.

“There’s a lot of fake news that was surrounding the vaccine, which really made me worry. However, after speaking with a GP I felt much more reassured about it,” said Mitchell Ryan, a second-year Photography student at De Montfort University.

To find out details about other pop-up clinics taking place across Leicestershire, visit https://www.leicestercityccg.nhs.uk/my-health/coronavirus-advice/coronavirus-vaccine/.

Data provided by Leicester City Council – Graph designed by Abigail Beresford

Covid rates in the first month of university: 2020 vs 2021

By Kira Gibson

In the month of October 2020, Leicester had just come out of lockdown, but there were still restrictions in place.

Both the city’s universities had brought in a blended learning environment for students, and the rate of Coronavirus throughout the city skyrocketed as the month went on.

Students tried to socialise with one another and get work done in class which unfortunately helped the Covid-19 rate across the city rise.

The rate per 100,000 people rose as well, leading to another lockdown (tier 3, and then tier 4) for the city and county.

In the month of October 2021, the entire country has been out of lockdown for several months, with few, if any restrictions still in place.

The Leicester Covid-19 rate however seems to stay the same, with roughly 1,000 or more cases each week.

Since university students have been back on campus, as both universities have allowed most students to learn face-to-face with a few classes still being online at teachers’ discretion, the rate of Covid-19 has not fallen yet.

The rate per 100,00 people has been rising as well, but still under the country’s rate per 100,000.

Mental health report finds 49% of adults in England negatively affected by pandemic

By Thomas Carter

Nearly half of adults (49 per cent) in England say the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, recent figures have shown.

The report, commissioned by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), also found that more than a third of adults (34 per cent or 15.1 million people) said they did not know what to do to improve their mental wellbeing.

As a result, OHID has launched the new ‘Every Mind Matters’ (EMM) campaign, which seeks to help people better their mental health.

Christopher Pendleton, 28, who struggled with homesickness and low self-esteem during the pandemic, said: “The main thing with my mental health is lack of self-confidence and a feeling of ‘what do I bring to the table?’. I undervalue myself a lot.

“I like to keep in touch with my friends, but at times I struggle to do so, then finding it hard to reconnect when I feel like I don’t deserve to.”

The percentage of adults (%) that say their mental health was negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic (Credit: Thomas Carter, Canva)

According to a press release by OHID, the new EMM campaign “empowers people to look after their mental health by directing them to free, practical tips and advice.”

“By answering five simple questions through the EMM platform, people can get a tailored ‘Mind Plan’, giving them personalised tips to deal with stress and anxiety, boost their mood, sleep better and feel more in control.”

Now a facilitator for mental health charity Andy’s Man Club, which has more than 60 locations across the country, Christopher added: “We run local support groups for those who struggle with their mental health.

“It’s a safe, non-judgemental space, where we question each other and talk about our problems.

“We’re all in the room for the same reason, and it’s interesting because you meet people who may have had similar experiences to you in their life.

“If you’re struggling mentally, it’s important to not just talk to those who simply listen, but those that give advice on how to move forward.”

Additionally, the OHID report found that younger adults were struggling the most, with 57 per cent of 18-34 year olds saying their mental health was negatively affected as a result of the pandemic.

A number of celebrities have also come out in support of the new campaign, such as Stephen Fry, Jay Blades and Arlo Parks.

For more information regarding the EMM campaign, visit: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/