A popular health and wellbeing scheme helping people live healthier lifestyles is set to continue with the local community now developing the project.
Launched in 2021, the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council ASPIRE project, funded by the European Union, provided opportunities for unemployed people living with obesity or weight issues to live healthier lifestyles and improve their employability.
Those who took part showed increased employability opportunities, a sense of belonging, self-esteem and confidence.
Residents supported each other with their wellbeing by meeting daily to participate in a wide range of activities and exercises.
These activities included cookery classes, BCHA employability and money management sessions, arts and wellbeing, which led to the rapid growth and understanding of the ASPIRE model to “grow your own, eat your own and sell your own”.
Phoenix Ford, a young man who lives in Pokesdown, participated in the Aspire and Friendly Food Club cooking sessions having never cooked before, aiming to make healthier changes and make new friends.
He said: “The ASPIRE project has given me a positive outcome by using cooling skills that I learned at the Friendly Food Club. I used to eat the bad stuff – like pizzas, fast food, chocolate, biscuits and cakes, but I realised that fast food made my energy levels so low.”
“Without the cooking and nutrition course it would have been the same, but I’ve changed, broken the cycle and I’m moving forward instead of backwards. I feel different, I’m less tired than usual. I sleep better, and I’ve got more energy. I’m going to keep on cooking at home.”
“I enjoyed the ASPIRE programme, as it gave my life more purpose.”
On the completion of the ASPIRE project in March 2023, the activity providers joined forces, with BCP Council support, to establish the Boscombe Community Wellbeing Project, to develop a transformational programme for residents.
Councillor Millie Earl, Deputy Leader of BCP Council and Portfolio Holder for Connected Communities said: “It is very encouraging to see the continuation of the project, led by the community.
“The ASPIRE model provided a unique opportunity to concentrate significant funding to a small, local community, providing support and healthier lifestyles.”
Gavin Tew, Owner, Bournemouth Wellbeing Experience & provider for the Boscombe Community Wellbeing Project said:
“We are excited to continue to our range of activities in Churchill Gardens for the residents of Boscombe – and beyond, helping them on their journey to happier and healthier lifestyles.
“We are developing our new community activities, which are based on the ethos of ASPIRE, and are looking for funding opportunities to help grow the programme.”
Funded as part of the Interreg VA Channel programme, BCP Council worked with other partners, including C3 Collaborating for Health, to deliver the programme.
The ASPIRE project attracted an increasing number of providers, including Bournemouth Wellbeing Experience, Vita Nova, Grounded Community, Boscombe Sing, Bournemouth Churches Housing Association, The Friendly Food Club, Qigong and FFAB Art Group. The project partners developed and delivered activities on site at the ASPIRE building in Churchill Gardens.
The ASPIRE building and the community hub will continue to be used as a focal point for residents around Churchill Gardens.