The RENEW programme, which is jointly funded by Trekstock and CLIC Sargent, will last for one year. This will fund 75 exercise programmes across three locations: London, Southampton and Birmingham. The charity partnership hopes to gain funding to support another two years of the programme, which aims to expand to a total of 15 locations spread across the UK.
Research has found a healthy lifestyle during and after cancer is associated with improved physical and psychological well-being, reduced side effects of treatment, enhanced self-esteem, reduced risk of recurrence, and improved survival. But according to experts, the large majority of people living with cancer do not achieve the recommended guidelines for physical activity, often due to barriers such as inaccessibility, fear or a lack of knowledge.
RENEW aims to combat these barriers by using personal trainers to show young people how to exercise safely and correctly in the comfort of their own home or in the gym. A small grant programme within the initiative will assist toward any transport requirements.
A trial launch has already been held successfully.
Sam, 21, who had brain cancer, from Essex, was part of the trial launch. He said: “Cancer treatment changed my body. Before I started RENEW I had lots of aches and pains and my treatment gave me really bad fatigue. RENEW helped build my strength and my confidence back up. It has given me so much more energy and I’m eating better too. I have more motivation in life. I think RENEW is really important because people who have had gruelling cancer treatment need it to help them get back into normal life. Now, I go to the gym three times a week. Without RENEW I don’t think I would be as strong both mentally and physically as I am today.”
Katie, 31, who is having treatment for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) from London, said: “I live with a chronic form of cancer which takes its toll every day. I think RENEW has helped me feel physically better and also improved my mental health. Exercise makes me feel happy and good about myself. I think RENEW is important because you can do all the exercises at home. Some people are freaked out by the idea of going to the gym – especially if cancer treatment has changed your appearance. So being able to do all the exercises at home, with a guide showing you how to do them properly, makes it easier to achieve those health goals you may have for yourself.”
Andrew Cooper, Assistant Director of Services at CLIC Sargent, said: “Exercise is not only safe but is also hugely important in managing cancer symptoms often experienced during and after treatment such as muscular weakness, weight gain and fatigue. The pilot programme aims to empower young adults living with cancer to lead a more active and energised lifestyle. Through working in partnership with Trekstock we are delivering an exercise programme that will help young adults to establish their “new normal” after experiencing a diagnosis of cancer, and being either stable on treatment or up to five years post treatment.”
Sophie Epstone, founder and CEO of Trekstock, said: “Being a charity that specifically supports the needs of young adults living with cancer, Trekstock recognise the important effects that physical activity has on major issues faced by young adults with cancer. Such as lack of confidence around body image, side effects of treatment and social isolation. RENEW is designed to empower young adults to take back control over their health, create meaningful connections with others and to make positive lasting changes to health behaviours. Through this new and exciting partnership with CLIC Sargent we will help the participants to define what their new normal is.”
RENEW will run from January until December 2016, operating out of leisure centres in London (Central YMCA), Southampton (Bitterne Leisure Centre, Chamberlayne Leisure Centre and Quay Swimming and Diving Complex).
If you would like to learn more about RENEW, or know of anyone between the ages of 16 and 39 who have experienced cancer in the last five years who may want to participate in RENEW please contact: Lauren Hyden on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 439 8607.