Health & Fitness Network

A Heath and Fitness network bringing together community and voluntary organisations, health service workers, and health and fitness trainers in the Kennington and Vauxhall area was set up at a meeting on 24 March 2006 organised by RCDT and Dr Raj Mitra of Lambeth Walk Group Practice. The purpose is to share information and co-ordinate activity on health and fitness. A discussion paper used at the meeting is set out below.

Health & Fitness Activities in the Festival

The members of the network are organising a number of heath and fitness activities for the Lambeth Riverside Festival in July, including:

  •  blood and fitness tests
  • circuit training
  • indoor games
  • tea dance
  • personal fitness trainer sessions competition

Health & Fitness


- Discussion paper

1. Over the last year there have been a number of one off and on-going health and fitness initiatives underway in the Kennington, Oval and Vauxhall area. These include:

· Kennington Association’s sponsored Tai Chi sessions at the Kurdish Cultural Community Centre

· Dr Raj Mitra’s Lambeth Group Medical Practice and Dan Styles half day blood pressure and fitness testing and advice during the Lambeth Riverside Festival last July

· The circuit training sessions in the Festival which have led to on-going sessions at Archbishop Sumner School

· The physical fitness training sessions competition in the Festival

· Trim trails being installed or planned for parks and open spaces

· Improvements to sports facilities in parks and open spaces

· Provision of a range of sports activities through the Sports Action Zone at the former Lilian Baylis School site off Lambeth Walk

· Lambeth Healthy Walk from Lambeth Group Practice to Archbishop’s Park

· The PCT Education Link project with schools based at Hurley Clinic

2. Major health problems in the area relate to obesity, high blood pressure, poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise. The free blood tests at Lambeth Group Medical Practice during the Festival revealed a number of people with undiagnosed conditions.

3. The health and fitness agenda is very broad. For some it is about changes to diet, or gentle exercise. For others it may be an informal sport played on open spaces and in parks. For others it is organised sports. But health and fitness can also be seen to be promoted by improvements to living standards, and a range of leisure pursuits that keep people mentally stimulated. It can include dancing, darts, and walking. Physical fitness aids mental fitness.

4. The majority of people will not want to take part in organised sports because of their experiences at school. Participation levels in organised sports appears to be declining. Only a small minority of people in any area will reach the top of their sports.

5. A health and fitness agenda would seek to provide a range of opportunities suited to individual needs.

6. In terms of sports:

· 6 years ago there were 6 world champions in different sports in Lambeth

· Brit Oval is a world class cricket facility and there is scope for developing a community programme

· There is no public athletics track yet the Borough has a top London club the Herne Hill Harriers who could take on the management of a track

· The emphasis on sport in parks is on club sports

· Certain types of informal sport on green areas of parks are being discouraged

· There is limited use of Brixton Leisure Centre

· There are no proper cricket squares in Lambeth Parks for informal games

· Some local children go for cricket training to Battersea Ironsides in Wandsworth, while others go to a school in Merton for five a side football

· Fulham Football Club is providing training for children and young people but it requires to be paid for that – the funding for its work in Archbishop’s Park is coming to an end

· Streatham Ice Skating Rink is now the only major rink in London following the closure of Richmond

· There is a lack of adequate sports and leisure facilities in North Lambeth and this is recognised in the Community Strategy, with proposals from both Lambeth Council and Coin St Builders to develop swimming and leisure facilities in Kennington Park and Coin St area respectively.

Testimonial from the winner of the 2005 Festival  Free Personal Fitness Training Sessions Competition

Before starting the training I was having problems about feeling quite low in energy: my diet was poor because I was lazy to eat vegetables and fruit so my body was quite low in vitamins and I was not having enough energy. This affected my daily routine, so even if I enjoyed, occasionally, playing badminton or swimming I used to feel too tired after work to go to the sports centre.

I believe my diet is healthier now because I understand what a balanced diet is and I am more aware of its effect on my daily routine. I feel I have more energy to continue doing activities such as swimming 2 or 3 times a week, playing badminton once per week and walking instead of taking public transport.

This change of diet and more active routine makes me feel I look after myself better and this helps me to improve my self-esteem. I feel these changes are significant to me because they have improved my quality of life. By doing more exercise I have also decreased the number of cigarettes I used to smoke.

I consider Dan a good personal trainer because I felt always listened to and accepted. He was patient and very clear when giving me explanations about nutrition and the exercises and their benefits. I felt valued about my strengths and respected in my weaknesses. He always motivated me to keep trying. I also value that he has been professional about our appointments and his efforts of being flexible even when he had a very busy diary.

7. It is said that the London Olympics will benefit sport across London. How? Possibly through some short term role models. But where is the infrastructure to sustain and foster long-term interest?

8. Can every park and open space sustain trying to provide facilities for several organised sports at the same time. Is there scope for specialisation. football in one, tennis in another?

9. Ideas for July 2006 Lambeth Riverside Festival

· Free blood tests at all the surgeries and at Tescos with the aim of picking up blood pressure problems co-ordinated through the general practice locality link and with the help of the Kennington & Waterloo Neighbourhood team of the Primary Care Trust based at Moffat Clinic

· Free physical fitness tests organised as last year by local resident and qualified fitness trainer Dan Stillwell.

· Dieticians at Tesco advising people on healthy food shopping

· A cycle event

· Healthy and heritage walks – these are being planned by the area’s local history/heritage forum

· Family games in events on open spaces e.g. tug-of war, egg and spoon

· Boules contest in Cleaver Square

· Darts tournament among the local pub teams

· Dances

· Sports and fitness taster session

· Tea Dance

10. There are proposals for promoting healthy diet as part of the launch event for the Festival on Spring Gardens on 8 July.

11. What can be done to develop all year round activities?

12. Should the community and voluntary groups in the area, working in partnership with the health services, specialist sections of the Council and the Sports Action Zone develop their own Health and Fitness Strategy and work on how to achieve it through a Health and Fitness Network?

Sean Creighton, Development & Management Worker, Riverside Community Development Trust

20 Newburn St. SE11 5PJ 020 7820 0555;