Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000


The Stepping Out Cancer Rehabilitation Programme is a ground-breaking, innovative medical referral scheme designed for people living with and beyond cancer to gain the benefits from engaging in appropriate physical activity. The programme comprises gentle group exercise classes tailored to individual needs, educational talks (e.g. the lymphatic system, diet and nutrition, mindfulness, coping with stress and anxiety, the benefits of exercise, complementary therapy and fatigue management) and separate ‘taster sessions’ providing the opportunity to try different activities (e.g. introduction to the fitness suite, yoga, meditation, pilates, cardio dance, nordic walking, walking football, table tennis, aqua wellbeing and tripudio movement systems). The scheme is delivered at the Bridport Leisure Centre by two Level 4 Cancer and Exercise Rehabilitation specialists and is supported by the educational speakers and taster session trainers.

The Stepping Out programme was set up by The Living Tree, and Bridport & West Dorset Sports Trust (Bridport Leisure Centre) in March 2015. Over the last two and a half years nearly 100 people living with cancer and in some cases their partners and carers have been active participants in the scheme, three quarters of whom continue to take part. The scheme is provided free at the point of delivery to all participants and is currently funded by a diverse range of partners. For the coming year, from April 2018 to March 2019, funding has been secured from Macmillan Cancer Care, Bridport & West Dorset Sports Trust, the Round Table and community fund raising by The Living Tree. This application to the Aviva Community Fund would bridge the outstanding finance gap enabling the scheme to continue in its entirety.

Research by Macmillan has found that leading a physically active lifestyle, both during and after cancer, is linked to an improvement in many of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatments; helping to overcome the consequences of cancer treatment including fatigue, anxiety and depression, whilst protecting the heart, lungs and bones. Being active can support the maintenance of a healthy weight as well as helping to prevent over 20 other long-term conditions (Source: Macmillan Physical Activity Behaviour Change Care Pathway 2016).

Cancer recognises no social, gender or economic boundaries and therefore the people who take part in Stepping Out come from all areas of the community and without support can become marginalised or vulnerable in many different ways. Anxiety, depression, isolation, stigma, mobility/disability issues as well as social and work-related problems all run hand in hand with cancer. Age is also no barrier with participants ranging from their early 40’s to their late 80’s.

The Stepping Out Programme has proven experience of the benefits that regular exercise provides to people living with and beyond cancer. Testimonials from people who have participated in the programme highlight:
• Improved balance, muscle strength, stamina, core strength, flexibility, co-ordination and physical activity levels.
• Decreased levels of fatigue and associated increase in the ability to continue to work.
• Reduced anxiety and improved mental wellbeing.
• Improved social interaction by partaking in group classes.
• Increased self-confidence to undertake a regular physical activity regime on a regular basis.
• New skills and enjoyment in activities never experienced before and the willingness to continue with these on an ongoing basis.
• Improved management of body weight and muscle tone.

Funding from Aviva would help to ensure that this essential work continues.

The Living Tree

Moment of Pride

The Living Tree is run entirely by volunteers who have all experienced cancer. With one in two people in our community affected by cancer, everyone has a friend or family member dealing with its effects. The Living Trees is here to offer support when and where it is needed in any way that it can.

Location: Bridport