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Social enterprise scheme celebrates birthday with two prestigious awards

Mick Owen who celebrated his company's 4th birthday by winning two prestigious awards

A Glossop-based social enterprise which promotes gentle exercise and activity to help physical and mental wellbeing has celebrated its fourth birthday with two prestigious awards.

Mick Owen, founder of Glossop’s WellFit Health and Wellbeing received a Foundation Derbyshire award in recognition of the work done by the organisation. He received a glass plaque presented by the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth House at a special awards ceremony earlier this summer.

He was also awarded an Excellence in Public Health and Wellbeing Award from Public Health England following a nomination by High Peak MP Andrew Bingham.

WellFit was launched in 2012 by Mick to help patients of the Cottage Lane Surgery in Gamesley to become more active. 

With the premise that physical activity can, in certain instances, be better than medication, Mick launched a series of gentle exercise sessions which proved hugely successful.

Mick explained: “I have a background in sports development and wanted to help people who weren’t physically active to improve their health and wellbeing.

“Working closely with the practice manager at the surgery, which funded the initial pilot scheme, we started with a small number of sessions in the local area. We wanted to get people taking part in gentle exercise and then see the effect on their health.

“It was an immediate success and when the pilot scheme finished, we applied to Foundation Derbyshire for funding and carried on.

“WellFit has grown over the four years and we now have over 250 people attending our sessions every month, assisted by a team of paid and volunteer co-ordinators,” he said.

Sessions currently include walking football, slipper soccer, non-ice curling, gentle bowls and stroll and natter walks in Hadfield, Gamesley, Glossop and Whaley Bridge, with other groups meeting at venues in Tameside.

Mick is a strong believer in the power of physical activity but has also found that one of the main advantages of WellFit’s sessions is the social interaction and learning new skills so runs other groups including lace making, cross stitch, a chess club and regular tea dances.

Activities are mainly funded through donations, grants and fundraising, although participants are asked to contribute £2 per session where possible.

Four years on, Mick is determined to continue his quest to help with physical and mental health and wellbeing and would like to buy a narrowboat for community use.

“Obviously it is all down to funding but I think a canal boat would be a brilliant asset to the local area, for use by a range of groups including mental health charities and looked-after children organisations.

“I am also interested in community allotments and keeping chickens and think these bring many benefits through physical activity and meeting other people. Physical health is very important but it is not the whole story. We want to offer activities which bring health benefits, as well as the chance to meet others and have fun,” he concluded.

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