PT for mental health recovery pilot launches in Wigan | Press Releases

PT for mental health recovery pilot launches in Wigan

PT Chris on left, Kieran on right with group participants

Wigan Borough Living Well has joined forces with Wigan Athletic, Wigan Warriors and Be-Well Wigan to pilot a 12-week Well-Being programme.

‘The Game Changing Community Programme’ is specifically aimed at people who live within the Wigan Borough and are experiencing mental health challenges which are severely impacting their quality of life.

Wigan Borough Living Well is a new community mental health service partnership between Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), Wigan Primary Care, Wigan and Leigh Community Charity, and Wigan Council.

The pilot, which launched on the 11th of April 2024, is comprised of a personalised training programme; activities including circuits, boxing, yoga, wellbeing walks, rock climbing, archery, and spin classes; and weekly peer support groups. The peer support groups will range from informal hot drinks and chats to workshops about coping mechanisms and nutrition advice, delivered by experts.

It includes health assessments, progress reports and goal setting for physical and mental health, and the opportunity to train with like-minded people.

Peer Mentors and Mental Health Link Workers, some of whom have lived experience of mental health problems, and can support people from a place of understanding, as they know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. The programme will provide access to 7 gyms across the Wigan Borough, 3 of which have pools and thermal suites.

During the programme, Mental Health Link Workers will also signpost participants to the Voluntary, Community, Faith and Social Enterprise (VCFSE) sector to find appropriate activities and support, and free tickets will be gifted to watch Wigan Warriors or Wigan Athletic matches. Participants will be accompanied by Peer mentors to these matches, to build confidence and help to build a social circle.

Group participants and Personal Trainers at gym

The aim of the programme is to provide a relaxed and supportive environment to help participants gain the confidence to attend their local gym independently and engage with other community activities once they complete the programme, leading to better mental and physical health and overall quality of life.

Participants will be reassessed every 6 weeks to measure their progress and will have the opportunity to go on to become Peer Mentors following completion of the programme, to help others in future.

Kieran Jones, Peer Mentor Co-ordinator, at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), previously set up a Community Interest Company (CIC), named Bridging the Gap, following his own lived experiences of mental health challenges. The programme proved a success, with participants showing improvements in socialising, confidence, sleep, and stamina. Most had lost weight, improved strength and had become more active in their daily lives

PT Chris on left, Kieran on right with group participants

Witnessing the positive impact of the programme, Kieran went about sourcing voluntary partners to participate in the pilot for ‘The Game Changing Community Programme’

Kieran said:

“A huge part of my own recovery was exercise, healthy eating, and a strict sleep routine. After two years of supporting people in crisis, in my own time and with no funding, I decided I wanted to put more resource into recovery plans. I devised a programme that would be fun, that would have a positive effect on mental health, that was based on exercise and nutrition. I put together a scheme lasting 12 weeks, long enough to notice a difference, but not too long to put people off.

Our hope for the future is that the pilot is successful with measurable outcomes which will empower us to secure funding and roll out the programme. This will hopefully enable us to support more people across Wigan and beyond.”

The service - part of the national Living Well programme - is funded by Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership and supported by the Innovation Unit.

To find out more about Wigan Borough Living Well, visit: “I have finally got a life” - new community mental health service to roll out following successful pilot | Press Releases | Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS FT (

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