Sport and Exercise Science students; Sophie Thomas, Megan Groombridge, Saffie Pomeroy and Jessie Payne were awarded an ECHO grant back in 2016 to kick start their volunteer project- Fitness Fights Falls. After receiving the Postural Stability Training they needed to progress with their project, these publicly-minded students are putting their knowledge and skills to work in a local Eastbourne care home.
Every year, one third of older people fall and in London alone these account for a tenth of ambulance call outs. Falls result in injuries, some serious and occasionally fatal, and besides the misery caused, they result in a £2 billion financial burden to the NHS.
Sophie said: “Our lecturer Robert Harley mentioned the opportunity to set up a falls prevention programme in one of our first year lectures. We started to realise the magnitude of the problem and this inspired us to apply for a grant and apply our knowledge from our degree into a real life setting with the potential to better our local community.”
The one-hour fitness classes, twice a week, have proved so popular at St Margaret’s that more residents are joining in. The classes are led by Sophie, Megan, Saffie and Jessie along with former student, Laura Seaman. Megan said: “We would love to offer this to more care homes because we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it’s had on the residents, but this is not manageable yet with the workload from our studies.”
Sophie said: “The project has helped put into practice ideas and theories we cover at University. I can honestly say I will never forget these residents and have grown so fond of them and all their individual ways and humours. It has been a privilege to observe improvements in every single resident throughout the weeks and to know that we have positively impacted on their lives.”
Megan said: “The best thing about being part of this project is being able to give back to the community and do something that I am passionate about, and for that I feel very fortunate. It’s been an amazing experience through which I’ve learnt so much, not just education wise but also about myself, as my confidence in working with vulnerable people has greatly increased. Teaching these residents has been an absolute pleasure as they never fail to put a smile on my face and it’s been so rewarding to see the improvements they have made.”
After graduating, Megan and Sophie (pictured) plan to take an MSc in Rehabilitation Science before taking up careers as physiotherapists. But they also hope: “More students can find or create opportunities like this for themselves and to get involved in projects similar to this – for us, this has been one of the best things about coming to the University of Brighton.”