Hub’s partnership improving health and leisure activity

It may have only been open just under six months, but the Mildenhall Hub is already showing the benefits of having services located together.
The Hub has been created to improve the health, well-being and education for the community.

The nationally ground-breaking initiative has not only delivered school, leisure and other facilities, but has also brought together partners in health, and care as well as other services to work collaboratively.

Health partners moved into the Hub in September and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust adult and paediatric community health teams are already seeing the benefits for patient care.

Cardiac rehabilitation exercise instructor Matt Lavers said: “When people have had a cardiac event, they can be very nervous of getting active again, and our rehabilitation programme helps people to understand how important it is to regain their fitness safely. Once they have completed our course, we can refer them on to Abbeycroft exercise instructors for continuing support through the GP referral scheme. Recovering patients can visit the leisure centres with support, regain their confidence and learn how they can maintain their fitness. The uptake has been very good, and very beneficial for our patients and we are really pleased we can now offer this service in Mildenhall.”

The leisure facilities at Mildenhall Hub, managed by Abbeycroft Leisure, have seen a positive increase in use compared to pre-covid statistics, with centre membership up by 38 per cent, swimming lesson participation up by 45 per cent and casual swimming use up by 127 per cent.

Abbeycroft has also been able to offer specialist classes as a direct result of working alongside the pulmonary rehab and Hub based physio teams.

Matt Hickey, Health and Wellbeing manager at Abbeycroft Leisure said: “Having our health partners within the same building is hugely beneficial for programmes such as Active Living, a unique, exercise referral scheme designed to support people to increase their physical activity levels. The health and wellbeing opportunities for the community is particularly exciting, as we see clients already on-site with the health teams, transition seamlessly across to the pool or gym to start their journey into a more active, healthy lifestyle.”

The Hub has also enabled families to attend community paediatric speech and language therapy rather than having to go to Bury St Edmunds, while having a library on-site has also proven important.

The library, whose staff welcome visitors to the building, was the first service to open at the Hub.

Since its June 1 opening it has seen a 54 per cent increase in people borrowing books compared to the same period in 2019, while the number of library members has also soared with around 700 new members. A large proportion of this increase has been through families, and there is a very strong cross-over with the swimming programme

The library hopes to further build on this success with the return of its calendar of events with regular activities for older people, families and children on offer – see www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/visit/locations-and-times/mildenhall-library  for more details.

Mildenhall College Academy which moved into the Hub back in mid-June has seen the number of students it can cater for increase from 210 to 240 for this academic year, and it may increase that again by another 30 for September 2022. As well as offering a better learning environment, the school is continuing to strengthen its community links with and is currently collecting items for the Kings Project Food Bank to donate ahead of Christmas.

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