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 

‘I sat in A&E alone beside myself crying for five hours. Honestly, I just wanted the world to end. The baby could have died’

Hollie talks to Matthew Childs about her pregnancy scare and her experiences being pregnant during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Finding out you are pregnant is one of the most memorable and amazing moments of life, regardless of whether coronavirus is around every corner. But then the bleeding came. Sitting in A&E by yourself for five hours conjuring the worst outcomes in your head because you simply do not know if your child is going to be ok.

For Hollie, a 21-year-old nurse from York, this is what she had to go through at the start of her pregnancy.

“I sat in A&E alone beside myself crying for five hours. Honestly, I just wanted the world to end. The baby could have died,” she says.

“I had to have an internal scan and I was so scared of what the result might be. All I wanted was to have Ryan with me to let me know everything was going to be ok, but coronavirus meant that I was on my own for five hours.”

Luckily, everything was OK, but now there is the impending doom of coronavirus and what effect it might have on the child.

With the background of ongoing Covid restrictions Hollie and boyfriend Ryan, have decided to go private for the remainder of her pregnancy.

Hollie says that the coronavirus has brought special measures to the NHS, and this means that Ryan would be unable to be with her during her pregnancy scans or any other pregnancy visits. She says that going private means that Ryan is able to be there by her side for all their special moments.

“Ryan is really excited and supportive of me and the baby. Ever since the day I went into hospital bleeding I am certain I want Ryan with me as much as I can.

Going private was a tough choice but definitely worth it. This means that Ryan can be by my side for the pregnancy scans rather than him having to wait in the car and only be able to see pictures,” she says.

Hollie is now 25 weeks pregnant. With her pregnancy scare on the forefront of her mind she does not want to take any risks with coronavirus.

“It’s a completely different ball game. I have to be the one to restrict visitors now and when she is born. It is even more different than usual, I just want to be safe,” she says.

“I’m scared to see friends because a lot of them have been socialising with other people. It’s really irritating at times as I do not feel supported, I ultimately have to put my foot down for me and my child’s safety.”

Having a child during coronavirus has its difficulties. Not being able to see family and friends is isolating. You would not usually be worried about simple things such as going shopping but because of coronavirus even getting food is a challenge.

“You are always conscious about everything you do. I have realised that even going shopping has its difficulties. I either have to go really early or late at night,” she says.

Before coronavirus being pregnant still had its difficulties, of course, but there was a greater access to support and group talks. Some of these are vital for young parents to understand things that they may not have considered before. Unfortunately, now these are limited or not happening all together, which has an effect on young parents.

Hollie says, “There are no opportunities for me to do antenatal talks or group sessions. This is hard as I am unable to connect with other mums and raise any issues that I have. Since I am a young mum its very difficult because I don’t want to get anything wrong when the child is born.”

Part of the reason why Hollie is finding it difficult to find support or attend group sessions is due to her work as a nurse.

“I have gruelling 12 hour shifts and the next day I’m just recovering due to fatigue. Since I have more to carry now, I have got sciatica in my hip which makes me very tired and anxious,” she says.

Hollie also expresses her concerns about working with face masks for long periods of time. “Masks have made it worse for me. The measures I need to take to protect myself have made it worse. I’ve been sick in my masks and I have fainted because of the hot air blowing into my face. I have been given the option to use a visor, but I don’t feel comfortable wearing that as I don’t think it’s as protective as a mask.”

“I could have cut down my hours at work from 12 hours to six, but that would mean I would have to work more frequently increasing the risk of catching coronavirus,” she says.

Working as a nurse during coronavirus is so much different for Hollie now because along with protecting her patients, she has to protect her child.

Hollie’s baby is due 6th February 2021. Although it is still three months away coronavirus isn’t going anywhere and will create problems for Hollie. One of these will be when she is ready to give birth.

Hospitals have got regulations to maintain and one of these is that whilst Hollie is giving birth, she is unable to have anyone at her side until she has established labour.

“Ryan will miss out on my contraction period and won’t be able to support me until I have established labour. This is scary as all I want is for someone to be by my side to support me and tell me that everything is going to be OK,” she says.

“Even after the baby is born Ryan will only be able to stay with me for two hours. After this he is able to see me in visiting hours. This is shocking because if something happens to the baby he might not be here, and I will have to face the problems by myself. I really want him by my side, but it is something that I will have to live with.”

Having a child in the face of coronavirus comes with extreme difficulties and precautions, but having support from friends and family makes it so much better and reminds you of how special having a child really is.