The first Community Resilience through Healthy Lifestyles Innovation event took place in Taunton with over 100 attendees from different organisations from across Somerset.

Attendees included community organisations, councillors and health professionals all coming together for the common aim of striving to improve the lives of the people with the largest health inequalities in Somerset.

The morning event looked at innovations from across the country using healthy lifestyle interventions that help individuals and communities deal with substance misuse, low aspiration and employment and crime reduction. The event was organised by Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP) and Pluss.

SASP CEO Jane Knowles and Pluss Partnership Manager Emma Wescott opened the event detailing the need for this work in the County. The morning then comprised of speakers and inspiring stories from people with lived experience.

Adrian Leather, Chief Executive of Active Lancashire spoke passionately about the More Positive Together, CSI programme, a 6-year partnership project that has attracted over £4 million in this time, using sports and activity to support those with drug and alcohol misuse issues across Lancashire. Adrian has been instrumental in giving key learnings for the Somerset work to develop.

Neil, a newly appointed SASP Revive sports mentor told of the challenges and difficulties of addiction and how sport and mentoring has helped in his recovery. He will now be using his experiences to help and support others through the SASP Programme Revive. The Revive Sports Programme gives people (aged 18+) who are undertaking their journey to recover from drug and alcohol addiction, the chance to get active and enjoy some new physical activity experiences. It is also suitable for those who are temporarily sober or drug free to participate in. The programme offers a variety of sessions and aims to provide participants with the physical and emotional benefits of exercise along with the opportunity to socialise in new environments. Alongside this, individuals can opt in for training, volunteering and employment opportunities if they wish. This is being delivered by Pluss.

Pres spoke of his journey and how sport, particularly boxing, has enhanced his life. He has now set up a boxing club – Blake Amateur Boxing Club to provide young people with opportunities to strive and he is also one of SASP’s new young people’s sport mentors on the SASP Jump Start Programme. Pres said “If it wasn’t for my boxing, I wouldn’t be standing here today. Being active has literally saved me, I’ve made friends and connected with others”.

The day finished with a lovely video about Josh who has used sports and cricket to make friends and set up his own business. View Josh’s story here.

The morning gave partners and organisations the chance to contribute to discussion topics and an excellent chance to network across this complex area of intervention.