Four projects running in Sussex have been featured on air as part of the promotion of the This Girl Can campaign and Active Sussex’s Getting Sussex Moving strategy.
The mini series on Seahaven FM ran across different weeks and looked at how partners are making their work safe, suitable, social, and self-affirming – four key areas highlighted by This Girl Can to help reduce the enjoyment gap.
They also looked at how to encourage people from all walks of life and all ages to get involved in physical activity.
Lisa Houston from Brighton and Hove Boxing Club and WBC Cares, which have benefitted from funding from Active Sussex’s Children and Young People Investment Fund, spoke about how they were making their boxing classes safe for women.
Aired across four days during the Early Morning Breakfast Club show from May 9-12, Lisa explained how within a year of starting a women-only division, female membership has surpassed 60 women.
“Quite a few of our members have said they recently moved to the area so were on the lookout for somewhere where they could find a group of like minded women they could connect with,” explained Lisa.
She added: “Women are enjoying feeling stronger nowadays.”
To help make it safe for women, and therefore reduce barriers to participation, there are women-only day time sessions a couple of times a week, plus they can join with the mixed evening sessions when they are more confident.
Following advice, they set up a female only WhatsApp group, they send out a clear information sheet answering key questions about taking part, they have female-only changing rooms, and no spectators are allowed in the room where the women train.
They also now provide femcare items in the bathroom and the male coaches have become male allies who are keen to make sure everything is done to make women feel comfortable at the club.
A buddy system has been started to make sure no women are walking by themselves after the session, and spaces in front of the club are reserved for women.
On Monday, June 5, Rubina Khan from Crawley Wellbeing spoke about a project supported by Active Sussex offering Muslim women the chance to have private swimming sessions.
“We always felt there was a need for ladies swimming, predominantly for those from the ethnic communities,” explained Rubina.
“These are ladies with cultural and religious barriers.
“There was a very limited amount of activities these particular ladies could do. It was either you can walk, go to a gym class or aerobics. I felt it was unfair and felt there needed to be something else to offer them.
“The moment we said ‘would you be interested in ladies swimming’ hands went up and they said ‘yes please, I have always wanted to do it’, ‘I feel I need to learn to swim’, or ‘I have not felt safe’.
“We have had a great response, we have been running it in a very private location where they feel safe and secure. It is a ladies-only environment, lady coaches and lady lifeguards.
“For some of them they are going into water for the very first time. It has provided them with a social activity. Some of them have learnt to swim and personally for me that is a great result.”
Open water swimming coach Dee Harmer from Fish2Water in Eastbourne spoke about her open water menopause movement course during two short interviews that ran on June 20, and 22.
Dee has been supported by Active Sussex, who helped source funding from Sport England so that she can offer some funded places and provide equipment, such as wetsuits and gloves.
Dee said her main reason for running the course was to reduce barriers to open water swimming.
“It is about finding ways to reduce the many things that might stop women getting involved.
“It is about helping women who are going through perimenopause or postmenopause phases of life and about getting them moving and reducing barriers and getting them out there.”
Lastly, Miz Wells, from Sweet Circus, which has recieved funding from the Children and Young People Investment Fund, spoke about the benefits of circus.
She explained how they are working with all ages, from toddlers right through to older people, to help them be physically active.
She also spoke about the importance of offering a ‘safe space’.
“We try to create an atmosphere where it is ok to feel vulnerable and it is ok to sit and watch for a bit and it is ok if you decide you don’t want to engage in conversation but we will keep trying and pulling you in.
“The way we try to draw people in is we do use those markers that this is something alternative.
“Circus is seen as quite niche, funky and out there so anyone who does not feel like they belong in the ‘big community’ that involves everybody can belong to this one and it does not matter what community you are from.
“We prop people up, we build them up, and they do then explore the wider community and become a valued and valuable member of it.”
To listen to the broadcasts, head to the station website www.seahavenfm.radio, select ‘On Air’ from the drop down menu across the top beneath the page header, go down and select ‘Listen Again’, click pick the show and choose the ‘Early Morning Club’ and then find the date you would like to listen to. Each interview appears in the last 20 minutes of the show.