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Keep active this winter with Physical Postcards

An initiative to encourage gentle regular activity within the home returns this year with a 12-week programme, commissioned by Public Health Cornwall.

Dance Centred is running its 12-week Physical Postcards programme for the third time in a row this winter, encouraging everyone to practice gentle exercise each week to keep themselves mobile and active this winter.

Launceston Life met with Lisa Townsend from Dance Centred, a Cornish dance artist-based company which has been working hard behind the scenes with the guidance of health charities and organisations to launch this year’s Physical Postcards programme.

Dance Centred works with social prescribers to see how the arts can benefit people living with health problems or social issues. With these networks on board, the arts charity has been able to launch its third round of Physical Postcards in Cornwall, supported and commissioned by Public Health Cornwall, with their long-term aim being to launch nationwide in the future. In addition, Active Cornwall is one of six organisations that run all social prescribing in Cornwall and have used their role as a mass connector to put the Physical Postcards programme forward to social prescribers across the county.

Lisa told Life: “A lot of people have been missing out on information during the pandemic. This project benefits people that are not digitally connected, or just don’t want to get on Zoom. It’s a 12-week programme to keep people active and moving, with the first card sent out to people in January.”

So how does Physical Postcards work? It’s simple - those who sign up receive free illustrated postcards through their door each week for 12 weeks, with step-by-step instructions on how to complete the week’s movement and activity. The cards are delivered between January and March - meaning during those cold, dark months after Christmas don’t have to be so bleak, giving participants a sense of independence and boost their confidence with day-to-day activities.

The average age of participants tends to be 60+, although there isn’t an age limit or boxes to tick to qualify, Lisa explained: “We don’t tend to target certain people, but those who receive the postcards might be people with health complications, they might be working with Macmillan (the cancer charity) undergoing cancer treatment, they may be lonely and cut off at this particular time of year, or they may be carers themselves. One thing I learned recently was that once you start caring for someone, the chance of you doing something for yourself goes down by 60% overnight.”

The postcards coming through participants’ doors over the 12 weeks are designed to motivate, and even give carers something to do with the person they are caring for - it’s an inclusive programme with a focus on benefiting everyone involved.

The coming six weeks between now and 11th December is an opportunity for people to sign-up, with the postcards making their way to social prescribers, GP surgeries, newsletters and media, charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society, care homes and even on doorsteps via neighbours. Social prescribers can refer people directly, and people can also sign themselves up, or their loved ones using the phone number or email address on the back of the cards.

After signing up, participants will receive a welcome letter and their first postcard will make its way to their address from the 3rd January 2022, followed by another card every week for 12 weeks.

Lisa said: “The postcards are designed to be motivational, and we find that after the first couple of cards, people start trying them and end up feeling very ‘can do’ about life in general. People in care homes chat to each other about it, and feel more confident in their body. Reading the end of project feedback can give you a sense of how lonely some of the participants are, one form simply said, ‘it feels like there is someone out there who cares. It just goes to show how something so simple can touch the lives of people who are really struggling.

“We’ve learnt how valuable these exercises are for people in every day life - an exercise might be done while they put the shopping away, or make a cup of tea for themselves. It’s all dance-inspired - the postcards have been developed from community based dance projects working with a very diverse range of people. They’re often those members of the community who are most vulnerable, and can’t or don’t access digital platforms.”

Although Physical Postcards currently benefit people aged 60+, Dance Centred hopes to achieve funding to grow the programme to work with different communities and age groups, from schoolchildren to prisons.

“There are loads of opportunities and possibilities,” Lisa added. “We want to make Physical Postcards more representative for everyone. Dance tends to be linked with young people who are really good at it, whereas dance can be really beneficial for everyone. We’re looking at a really broad cross section on activities and movement.”

If you or someone you know may benefit from the Physical Postcards programme, then you can sign up by phoning 07936 648347 or 07730586306 or emailing . The closing date for signing up is 11th December.

Sign-up cards are also available at the Launceston Life offices at 4 Market Street (inside the Athelstans office). If you would like to pick one up, please send us a message on our Facebook page or email so we can arrange for someone to be in the office.


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