24 Oct 2008

A group of stroke sufferers in Flintshire have started their own weekly exercise sessions and social support network, thanks to National Lottery funding from the Sports Council for Wales.

Butterflies After Stroke Club, based in Buckley has secured a £1,000 Community Chest grant towards running twenty activity sessions, specifically suitable to stroke patients. The club’s 25 members take part in gentle exercises every Thursday morning before taking in lunch and then spending the afternoon taking part in social activities, such as dominoes, or listening to guest speakers who give lifestyle advice for post stroke sufferers.

Every year, an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke - one person every five minutes. Most people affected are over 65, but anyone can have a stroke and around 1,000 people under 30 have a stroke each year. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK and is a leading cause of severe adult disability. More than 250,000 people in the UK live with disabilities caused by stroke.

Brenda Smith, Butterflies After Stroke Club Secretary said, "We are just starting out as an independent group after the Stroke Association Day Service we were attending failed to secure funding to continue. We have all benefited so much from the exercise programme that we are trying to continue ourselves. This grant will help us to do this and we are also looking at doing fundraising events ourselves to raise money to continue."

She added, "In Flintshire there is hardly anything for stroke sufferers and for some of our members this is their only chance to get out of the house. It is a community thing and a social thing, to keep people together so that they don’t feel alone."

Leighton Veale, from The Stroke Association said:

"Just 30 minutes of activity five days a week is enough to reduce your risk of stroke. Regular physical activity helps to lower blood pressure, creates a healthy balance of blood fats and improves your body’s ability to handle insulin. You don’t have to do it all in one go – it is just as effective to exercise a few times a day in 10, 15 or 20 minute sessions. Exercise plays a vital role in recovering from a stroke and, however restricted your mobility; it is often still possible to carry out some simple exercises which will enhance your overall well-being."

Since the inception of the Sports Council for Wales’ Community Chest scheme in 1999, communities across the length and breadth of Wales have been investing heavily in sports and physical activity projects.

Chair of the Sports Council for Wales, Philip Carling, said:

"Community Chest has been and continues to be a huge success and is very popular throughout Flintshire. The increase in funding and the greater scope of the scheme will increase its effectiveness.

"Panels based in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales hold the purse strings and have delegated authority to award grants to worthwhile projects. We want to hear of bright ideas and projects that will get more people in Flintshire more active, more often."

As a result of the popularity and undoubted success of the scheme, the Sports Council for Wales is raising the level of grant. Organisations keen to develop sport and physical activity in Wales can now receive up to £1000 for a qualifying project over a 12 month period.

The scope of the scheme has also been widened. Grants have traditionally been awarded to sports clubs and sporting bodies. Now most organisations seeking to develop physical activity and sporting projects will be eligible for an award.

The Community Chest has recently been infiltrating additional areas of work such as the voluntary sector (e.g. Voluntary Youth Clubs, Women’s Institute) and the workplace, as well as continuing to support projects in the health and education arenas. So while funding the local football club might get the younger members of the community moving, backing a walking group will encourage more adults to get active.