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Database: UK11

Created On Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:17 By José Jesús Delgado

ID Code (e. g. HU1):
Age UK – Fit as a Fiddle programme

Age UK
TYPE (SME, Company, Community Centre, Health Centre, Educational Centre, Foundation,
Municipality, governmental institution, etc):
Age UK England, Tavis House
1-6 Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9NA
E-MAIL: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  In this case, please indicate the territorial
scope of the organization:

Age range:
From: N/A to N/A years N/A
Older than: 50 years  
Gender: Unisex

4 - CHARACTERISTICS OF THE MIND FITNESS PROGRAM / SERVICE / ACTIVITY (NB: Should the program, service or activity be included into more than one category, please select the most representative category for that PSA. But, REMEMBER: THE PSA MUST BE SELECTED ONLY IN CASE THAT MENTAL FITNESS / MENTAL WELLBEING IS INCLUDED IN ITS GENERAL AIMS OR GOALS. IF NOT, YOU SHOULD NOT SELECT IT. The characteristics below are the means, not the goal)
Promoting a healthy lifestyle, Providing opportunities for physical activity and exercise, Strengthening positive relationships
Other: N/A
(EXPECTED) DURATION OF THE Programme/Service/Activity: Not defined
Begin (Month/Year, e. g. 02/2012):N/A
End (Month/Year, e. g. 02/2012):N/A or Number of weeks:Once each month
Number of units:N/A
Hours per unit:N/A

The UK Big Lottery Fund Wellbeing Programme is a £165 million grant programme encouraging healthy lifestyles and wellbeing. BIG's Wellbeing Programme comprises three main outcomes aimed at:
• Improving and developing levels of physical activity;
• Mental wellbeing;
• Healthy eating habits for people and the wider community

The Wellbeing Programme is a reflection of the increasing emphasis put upon healthier lifestyles, nutrition and preventative health services by government as obesity levels rise, alongside an increased focus on tackling mental health problems, as demonstrated across UK and EU governmental initiatives. Funding under this Programme is available for voluntary and community sector organisations, as well as statutory and private organisations through a series of national and regional Portfolios of activity.

Age Concern England was awarded £15.1 million by the Big Lottery Fund to deliver the ‘Fit as a Fiddle’ portfolio across the 9 English regions from 2007 until 2012. On 1 April 2009, Age Concern England and Help the Aged joined together to form Age UK the country’s largest charity for older people dedicated to improving later life for everyone.

Age UK aims to improve later life for everyone through information and advice, services, campaigns, products, training and research. Their vision is for:
A world in which older people flourish is a world in which older people will:
be equal citizens with equal rights have enough money for a secure and decent life, and have access as consumers to the products and services they need at a price they can afford have access to the healthcare and social care they need have the opportunity to live healthier longer lives and to enjoy a sense of well-being live in homes and neighbourhoods that are safe and comfortable and which enable them to lead fulfilling lives have opportunities to participate and contribute as volunteers, active citizens, good neighbours, family members, and workers enjoy the benefits of longer life, wherever they are in the world.

The Fit as a Fiddle’ portfolio aims to broaden and increase the opportunities for older people to undertake physical activities and improve their eating habits, contributing to an overall improvement in mental health.

a.- Which materials were used?
Survey /report
b.- Who conducted the program / service activity? (What role, what qualifications, etc.)
Professionals in Health and Education supporting Volunteer facilitators and encouraging older people to engage in personal self development by adopting positive strategies.

7 - METHODOLOGY USED (presentations, pair work, group work, peers, mentors, blended
learning, e-learning, etc.)
The Fit as a Fiddle initiative comprised 2 national projects and 24 regional projects, delivered by over 200 organisations (99 of which are local Age UK’s/Age Concerns). It is designed by older people for older people to encourage improvement upon their life styles.

The National programme has 2 strands : 1) National cascade training programme worked with with expert organisations including Sporting Equals, Mental Health Foundation, National Association for Providers of Activities for Older People (NAPA) and Age Concern Central Lancashire, Fit as a Fiddle developed a series of national volunteer training programmes. Volunteers support work with people in later life in relation to physical activity‚ nutrition and well-being. The programme delivered five tailor-made training packages to support physical activity‚ healthy eating and well-being with key groups of people including;
older men ; older people in community and faith settings ; older people who are isolated or house-bound; organisations running sheltered accommodation for older people care and residential homes. Each training course engaged and supported volunteers to work with participants in each of these settings‚ and will pilot programmes regionally and nationally. By the end of the programme‚ the national Volunteer Cascade Training programme aims to train and support 100‚000 older people‚ and produce manuals and training resources for organisations working with people in later life.

National Educational Resources worked with partners to develop a series of innovative‚ new educational materials on physical activity‚ well-being and healthy eating for people aged over 50‚ volunteers‚ careers and professionals. Across the five year period‚ the programme will produce:
• new physical activity and exercise DVDs for people over 50, produced by national partners including the Keep Fit Association and Exercise, Movement and Dance Partnership
• good practice guides aimed at focussed topic areas, developed by fit as a fiddle and partners including the National Association for the Providers of Activities to Older People (NAPA) and Blood Pressure Association
• a bank of positive and diverse photographic images that can be used regionally and nationally as part of the programme‚ produced in partnership
• web-based materials to increase awareness among older people and professionals of the importance of physical activity and well-being‚ and to showcase the work of fit as a fiddle‚ developed by the national team
• CD presentations that organisations can use to highlight good practice when working on physical activity and well-being among older people‚ developed by the national team
• leaflets on physical activity‚ healthy eating and well-being aimed at specific groups (older men‚ people with high blood pressure and people living in residential care)‚ developed by BPA and other organisations

Fit as a fiddle has been developed by talking to older people and finding out what exactly they need and want to stay active and healthy i.e The opportunity to learn new things ; To have activities dedicated to people their age;To do things with people their own age ;To have organised activities;To pick up on old activities and be able to do them again;To be useful (volunteering/ability to work).

This is a programme to support older people to remain fit and active well into their older age. The individual projects being developed target all older age ranges, with a particular focus on older men and older people living in sheltered and supported housing. Most of the projects focused on engaging older people in activities that are fun, where they will have the opportunity to do things with people their own age. Many of the projects used trained older volunteers to help older people live healthier, happier lives.

The Fit as a Fiddle initiative comprised 2 national projects and 24 regional projects, delivered by over 200 organisations (99 of which are local Age UK’s/Age Concerns).

Each of the 9 English regions received £1.2 million to deliver a range of innovative projects in their area. The Regional programme co-ordinated a portfolio of innovative projects that support with enhancing older people’s health and well-being. These range from Aquacise, Nordic Walking, Chair based exercises, Body Balance (Kingston,Surrey); Mobile Gym ( remote locations in North Norfolk); Dancing for Fun; Eating Well‚ Feeling Well; and cookery and tea dances ( Eastern region) ; 'Fifty Ways to Health' with volunteers as Senior Health Mentors‚ who organise physical activity and well-being sessions for older people‚ including yoga‚ tai chi‚ bowls and balance sessions( North East) projects focusing on Black and Minority Ethnic communities‚ care homes‚ rural communities‚ older men‚ inter-generational work‚ and falls prevention ( North West); Get Up‚ Get Out‚ Get Active' programme Walking for Health‚ (South West) ; Greengagers'‚ promoting gardening projects( West Midlands).

Further details are at :

By increasing the focus upon good expectations of good health in old age and encouraging older people to maintain, sustain and improve their health, the Fit as a Fiddle initiative aimed to address inequalities and promote healthy ageing‚ based around the needs and ideas of local people.

Over 350,000 older people and 4,500 volunteers have participated in activities from aqua circuits to Zumba.

Some specific example practice is provided on the following programmes at

Engaging minority ethnic groups with physical activity and healthy eating
, Age UK Lancashire and Sporting Equals
- have focussed on volunteer training and engaging South Asian elders, Chinese and Polish older adults into physical activity and healthy eating initiatives.

Social prescribing for physical activity 

, Age UK North East -targeting doctors and health professionals to encourage them to refer older clients into physical activity, delivered by the nine local Age UKs.

Healthy eating project linking into commissioning

 Age UK Cambridgeshire
 have developed a bespoke healthy eating training manual with ‘train the trainer’ learning sessions peer.

Delivering stimulating physical activity in residential care homes

, Age UK Oldham
- meaningful and stimulating physical activities in residential care settings.
Regional evaluations here:

The focus of all these programme under this initiative is on addressing the following range of evidence from research into inactivity and social isolation in older people, including 2006’s Independent UK inquiry into Mental Health and Wellbeing:
• 12% of over 65’s cannot walk outside on their own
• 25% of women and 7 % of men don't have the leg strength to get out of a chair without using their arms.
• Volunteering was identified as a key way of making a contribution.
• Maintaining a good diet is a key component to physical health.

There are similar concerns across Europe and these will need our focus in MENTA.
However, the key issue of Mental Well Being is addressed indirectly through a range of other initiatives and diverse activities.

We can certainly learn from the successes of partnership working and knowledge exchange so pertinent to the individual regional project and the national training and resource developments.



Lee, Michele ‘Promoting Mental Health and Well-being in Later Life. A first report from the UK Inquiry into Mental Health and Well-being in Later Life’Age Concern and Mental Health Foundation, June 2006

Location : UPLOAD FILES (.pdf)