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How West Ham have kept Allison healthy during pandemic

22 Aug 2020
Allison living healthy lifestyle thanks to West Ham

Hammers' 150Club programme has supported the healthcare worker to get fit to face the stresses of COVID-19

Allison Gibbs' job as a healthcare support worker at Royal London Hospital makes it hard to have a healthy lifestyle, but her local club West Ham United have helped her to improve her physical wellbeing, as well as her mental health during the stressful COVID-19 pandemic.

Working at night in the east London hospital was having a physical impact on Allison. "You drink tea, you drink hot chocolate, you eat cake, just to keep the night going," she says.

After experiencing cramps she saw her local doctor, who highlighted issues with her blood-sugar levels and blood pressure.

The doctor also referred Allison to West Ham Foundation's 150Club, an award-winning programme which gives tailored physical activities to residents in Newham who are at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

"They make you look at life in different a way, and it makes you look forward to doing the exercise class."

Allison Gibbs

Allison worked with a 150Club lifestyle advisor Layla, who provides her with individual support and guidance.

"They make you look at life in different a way," says Allison. "It makes you look forward to doing the exercise class.

"I work on the 14th floor and I now try to walk up the stairs. It also helps you with your diet."

The programme has had a big impact on Allison's health.

"Once upon a time I couldn't stoop down but now I can," she says. "I can now actually run for the bus."

'It keeps me motivated'

The impact has been positive for her mental health as well.

"It does make you feel better," says Allison. "It gives you something to look forward to."

And that aid from the Foundation has become even more important in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"The last few months have been difficult because you don't know what's next," Allison says. "It's stressful.

"A colleague got unwell and you ask yourself, 'Who is next?' It's not just dealing with the patient, it is dealing with our colleagues and ourselves as well - doctors and nurses, every healthcare professional.

"It has been a really difficult time."

The lockdown also affected the 150Club programme as members such as Allison were unable to go to gyms for their exercise classes.

But the 150Club team have continued to provide exercise activities virtually to members and the help they have offered over the phone or digitally has been important as ever. Layla has remained in touch with Allison, keeping her spirits and her fitness in a good place.

"Layla is very good at her job and keeping everybody together," Allison says. "She tries to find out how we all are in COVID, which is very important.

'She cares and the club care'

"It's not like you just go to the gym, you are a member and that's it. She's caring, but also the club itself. The fact they are still in contact and connecting with people is very important. Isolation can be a big thing."

Her night shift makes it difficult for Allison to join the Zoom calls Layla has organised for members but such is the motivation that the 150Club programme has built up she has gone to the park to maintain her exercise regime. 

"It’s a very helpful programme," Allison says. "I'm telling a lot of people about it.

"It's a programme run by people who care."

More lockdown stories

See: Coronavirus, clubs and community

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