When you think of the University of Gloucestershire, you’ll undoubtedly think students. Whilst supporting students to realise their full potential is at the heart of the University’s function, a significant proportion of the local community also benefit from the training and sports facilities on offer, as well as the health and well-being expertise available at the Oxstalls campus in Longlevens.
Sport is a key fabric of Gloucestershire and it can inspire and unite communities. But it may be a surprise to know that the city of Gloucester ranks way below other areas in the county for participation in physical activity. In the period 2014-15 only 31% of the city’s residents participated in one or more sessions of moderate physical activity each week.
Addressing participation levels in physical activity is no easy task, but the University is blazing a trail. A whole host of community sports clubs have formed strong partnerships with the University, from Gloucester Blazers Wheelchair Basketball, Aspire Springers Trampoline Club and Gloucester City Swimming Club to Gloucester Wheelchair Rugby and Oxstalls Tennis Centre. The University hosts recreational sports activities, after school and holiday sport provision and sport in schools which reaches over 5,000 young people and families each year in the city.
Director of Sport at the University of Gloucestershire, Dr Andy Pitchford, said: “Partnerships with the community clubs are extremely important to us. We want to build them further to not only give our students’ real life experiences but also to provide local clubs with expertise and resources that they may not otherwise have access to. Every year over 650 of our students go into community settings to take part in activities ranging from promoting sports such as rugby league to coaching young people with disabilities.”
Aspire Springers Trampoline Club have been reaching for the stars since 2004 at various venues but in 2013 the club expanded into their new satellite venue in the sport studio at the Oxstalls campus with great success.
Aspire Springers Head Coach, Dawn Lawson, said: “Moving into this facility has enabled our performers to excel with extra training times and equipment, reaching international and national level, opening up more spaces for the members of our club to enjoy more bounce time. It has also allowed us to work in partnership with the University trampoline squad to achieve University medallists.
“We have also assisted the University in providing placements for the students and also giving guest lectures in the adaptive learning module sharing our experiences working with those disabilities.”
The provision of sporting facilities can play an important role in the well-being of the physically disabled, both in their general health and well-being and also re-establishing the individual’s self-confidence. The University is the home of the Gloucester Blazers Wheelchair Basketball Club, one of the most successful wheelchair basketball clubs in the south of England and a club that is open to all.
Leslie Ramsden, who founded Gloucester Blazers Wheelchair Basketball Club with his wife Jean, said: “The club’s training schedules improve the individual’s upper body strength, their cardio vascular performance and hand-eye co-ordination whilst inclusion in the club’s competitive teams in the sports national league brings about its own satisfaction. We are grateful to the University for its support in providing us with a home in which we can store equipment, train and play our matches.”
Andy Pitchford added: “The University already does lots with the community which is fantastic, but there is so much more that we could do. With improved high quality facilities for sports, health and well-being we could create the kind of spaces that would support sustained participation and inspire more people, young and old, to improve and excel.
“New facilities will make a big impact on sport in the city - it will mean that sports like netball, futsal, badminton, indoor cricket and wheelchair sports can really thrive. We will have superb space for training but we'll also be able to host major events. The new spaces really will be transformational and will bring the best out of clubs and individuals in what is, after all, a great sporting city.”
Residents and clubs who would like to find out more information about the University’s sport offering email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Twitter @UoGSport
Back to fitness at Oxstalls
When Jackie Bannister, a retired music teacher who lives in Brockworth, was referred by a physiotherapist at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, little did she expect to be making use of the facilities and expertise on hand at the University’s Oxstalls campus.
The University operates a successful GP referral scheme called Uni Start, in additional to a range of cardiac rehabilitation programmes called Heartbeats in partnership with the NHS and specialist rehab sessions for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and lower limbs.
Jackie had been inactive due to a bad back and was not able to walk without the aid of walking sticks. After 6 weeks with Back 2 Fitness her physiotherapist referred her to the Uni Start scheme.
Jackie said: “At the initial consultation I discussed with my instructor Ben what I wanted to achieve through the scheme and my three main goals were to lose weight, get fit and be able to go for walks as I was sedentary.
“I have lost over two stone in five months and I am able to go walking - the difference is phenomenal. My fitness has increased, I feel so much better in myself and I am much more confident in myself as a result.
“The support and guidance I received was fantastic and helped keep me motivated. The gym programme was structured and easy to follow and I really liked the social atmosphere in the gym.”
To find out more about the Uni Start scheme email Carly Williams: email@example.com.