Verve Gets Fit
Young people face numerous challenges as they transition into adulthood, and for some these challenges can cause vulnerabilities and emotional distress. Verve Place, as part of the Your Housing Group, is a centre designed to give young people from difficult backgrounds a brighter future. The centre has 38 apartments where 16-25-year-olds are encouraged to live independently while being taught essential skills as well as promoting self-belief and physical and mental wellbeing.
Verve Place was successful in an award for the Active Minds investment, released by Active Cheshire in October 2017. Physical activity was identified by the young residents as a missed opportunity for the young people at Verve Place where residents could get mentally and physically healthy from the weekly physical activity – thus ‘Verve Gets Fit’ was developed.
The young people chose two activities: boxing and martial arts. Louise, Project Officer at Verve Place, said that, “each session has involved an intense workout, showing each young person a new technique and working towards team engagement and positive well-being.”
A significant aspect of Verve Gets Fit was building confidence into the community. One young person, in particular, has jumped at the opportunity to access boxing at Phoenix Fire, a local Boxing gym. This person was Rosie*.
Rosie moved into Verve Place aged 17 after experiencing homelessness and family breakdowns. During the assessment period, Rosie identified a motivation and focused mindset on attending college and a career ambition of entering the armed forces. It was evident through 1-2-1 intervention work that this young person was engaging in risky behaviour off-scheme and was tackling daily low moods, negative thoughts, and anxiety. Self-harm and risky involvements had been persistent behaviours that brought around safeguarding concerns.
When working through coping methods it was identified that her main interests were music and fitness – particularly considering her career interests, fitness was not only a focus for wellbeing but potentially beneficial for her career development. Verve Gets Fit was a perfect opportunity for Rosie to focus her thoughts, energy, and behaviours on a coping strategy of fitness.
Rosie particularly enjoyed the boxing sessions, building up relationships with the trainers, and encouraging her to access combat and boxing facilities. The sessions have made a huge difference to her daily communication skills and overall motivation. Additionally, Rosie now feels supported enough to request additional support when needed and talks more openly about her low moods.
Rosie will now identify her own needs and with established coping methods it has also been noticed that she will access the gym daily as well as sessions on her scheme. Rosie has reported that the sessions “made me feel better within myself and has made me feel better with my depression.”
Towards the future for Verve
As a result of the funding, each young person who engaged in the sessions identified enjoyment and showed improvement in their personal mental wellbeing, as well as their physical fitness. Verve Place is continuing to offer weekly sessions of physical activity, particularly through their run, jog and walk club, free use of the gym, and additional sessions with equipment bought as part of the project.