Noah's Ark - A Place of Hope

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Noah’s Ark was established in 2000 to serve the locality of Ovenden, expanding over recent years to cover the whole of Calderdale. It offers counselling and money advice services and was built by the community, for the community, to improve users’ mental, emotional, and financial wellbeing. Noah’s Ark is now the largest voluntary sector provider of therapeutic services in Calderdale, working in partnership with Calderdale Council, to provide a haven and place of hope for the whole community.

Harnessing the Power of Physical Activity

The team at Noah’s Ark are passionate about the positive links between mental health and financial stability and felt that physical activity would be a further benefit to their clients. They were keen to develop their offer and include physical activity alongside their debt advice, debt courses, food parcels and counselling services.

During the cost-of-living crisis, Noah’s Ark saw an opportunity to implement real change in the support they offer to clients and staff. By embedding physical activity as a key part of the clients’ journey they hoped to improve mental health and wellbeing, financial wellbeing and physical wellbeing.

Rising to the Challenge

The investment received included funding for a physical activity coordinator, IT improvements and modification of the waiting room to help promote being active. A barrier breaker fund was also set up to help support individuals with equipment and clothing to enable them to be active.

Noah’s Ark embraced the challenge to include physical activity options and encouragement for their users and staff. As part of their promotion, a waiting room video loop of the Active Calderdale YouTube channel was set up and their social media feeds also featured physical activities.

In total, Noah’s Ark introduced the following initiatives and strategies to ensure physical activity became a routine part of the day for service users and staff.:

  • Conversations about physical activity were incorporated into the client assessment processes. 377 active conversations have taken place this year. 
  • A 20-minute section about the importance of physical activity incorporated into the Budget Like a Boss!! (BLAB) Course. 24 BLAB courses were delivered in total.
  • Walking groups were set up after the (BLAB) course – staff and clients were encouraged to attend.
  • Staff walking team meetings were encouraged.
  • Walks were used to de-stress after challenging meetings.

Physical activity initiatives for service users:

  • The weekly walking group was introduced.
  • Barrier breaker fund set up – money to support individuals with equipment to be physically active.
  • Free leisure passes through the link to CMBC Leisure service were trialled.

Impact on Staff & Service Users

As a result of these interventions, staff motivation to promote physical activity to service users increased alongside their knowledge and skills;

“I feel it’s important to promote/engage in conversations about physical activity with service users” – 92%

“I intend to engage in conversations with service users about physical activity”- 75%

Previously 35% of staff members said that they “rarely” or “never” promoted or engaged in conversations about physical activity, so this represents a significant increase in physical activity promotion to Noah’s Ark clients.

Service users were also more active following engagement with Noah's Ark services.

The full feedback survey results can be downloaded here. Further information on the interventions and their effects on service users and staff can be found in the following blogs:

Active Resilience on Noah's Ark | Active Calderdale

Active Ark - Anna's Story | Active Calderdale

Creating Affordable Leisure Provision | Active Calderdale

Sustainability

Noah’s Ark has now changed their policy to embed physical activity into their service, offering advice for their service users and opportunities to be active. They will continue to offer this service to all users moving forward and have made the following commitments:

  • Continuing the walking activities for staff and clients.
  • Recruiting more volunteers to stimulate more interest and activity.
  • Including the benefits of physical activity in their weekly BLAB courses.
  • Using social media to promote Active Calderdale projects.

To discover more about Noah's Ark and the services they offer, visit their website.