The Energize team saw the great work taking place at a local hotel on the news and had a chat with the team at Shropshire Council to understand how we could help through the Tackling Inequalities Fund.

We met with the group in the hotel to understand their motivations and goals and were able to identify Jenna from Yoga4Health Shropshire to deliver a community project.

Here is her story...

I first heard of the Tackling Inequalities Fund through a friend at Smash Life UK. Shortly after I attended a meeting with Joe Lockley from Energize and we discussed the possibility of running a yoga course in the community for vulnerable groups.

During the lock-down, and as the homelessness increased in Shrewsbury due to loss of jobs and a decline in mental health, a 6 week Yoga course was developed. The course was specifically designed to empower individuals to move their body in a safe and supported way, whilst learning new skills and approaches for times of crisis, particularly in relation to mental health.

The process worked very well. Clear communication and an understanding of a shared goal was key. The funds were used for 6 x 90 minute Yoga Therapy sessions (in person), individual 1-1 coaching and empowerment support. The participants continue to receive remote support as and when they wish and have been given free access to all online classes and workshops. All participants received a Yoga mat and a T-shirt along with refreshments after each session.

The focus group for this project was homelessness, due to a rapid rise in street sleeping and job loss across Shropshire as a direct result of COVID 19. The Prince Rupert Hotel in
Shrewsbury homes 16 people and of those, 8 people joined the sessions. Out of the 8, 4 had 100% attendance and 2 continue to work with me and have made significant improvements to their lives.

An example of the impact of the project...

Pete, a 45 year old male became homeless after losing his job, relationship breakdown and alcoholism.

During the first lock-down Pete slept on the streets in Shropshire, with his mental and physical health deteriorating. His existing diabetes worsened which led to him being hospitalised. On recovery Pete stayed at the Prince Rupert Hotel, where he remains whilst he is supported to look for independent accommodation. Pete has 2 young daughters and previously had a successful career as a chef, in a range of settings.

Pete came to Yoga during one of the lowest periods of his life. He had become dependent on alcohol, was not sleeping at night and had no contact with his children or partner. He told me he felt unwell, anxious, worried and scared about the future.

Over the 6 week period Pete practiced a range of yoga styles including Ashtanga, Yin, & Restorative Yoga. He also started a meditation and breathing practice, along with journaling
and goal setting. After Just 3 weeks it noticed that by moving his body in an intelligent way, focusing the mind through the control of breath, that he was able to find more ways to manage his thoughts, feelings and actions.

Pete is now proficient in a range of Yoga postures and breathing techniques. At Pete's first yoga class, his body was overweight and inflexible. He is now able to wear his new T-shirt which is a size M, moves with more steadiness and ease. He is also working on recognising negative thought patterns and how he can take authority over these. He has developed more insight and self awareness and realises that moving his body has a significant impact on his overall health.

2 people in seated yoga position

Since completion of the project I have remained in touch with a number of the participants remotely. All have unlimited free access to online sessions. Pete has shared that he is now registered with Wrekin Housing Trust and has a support worker, he has also started a new job and has telephone contact with his children.