This question is important because:
Being person-centred is key to making your project a success. People’s motivation for coming along may be more to do with getting out of the house, feeling welcome, making friends and having fun than with getting fitter or doing that particular activity. The support offered and relationship created with the person leading the activity or other participants can be of great significance and the motivation for a person to maintain their participation. Building positive relationships should be considered before, during and after sessions.
You should consider what motivates people to take part when developing relationships. Our evidence suggests that people are as much motivated by fun and meeting other people as becoming active.
One to one instructions can be helpful in building trust and introducing participants to a new environment. A lot of people with challenging life circumstances need friendly reminders to attend sessions and may find it difficult to plan ahead. Participants may find it difficult to find their way around a new environment and will need more support during their first few sessions.
Social get-togethers are also helpful in building relationship between participants.
The University of Strathclyde’s evidence suggests that people are as much motivated by fun and meeting other people as they are by becoming active.
- Keep reminding yourself just how vulnerable your participants may be.
- Think about how you can build a community amongst your participants. Ask what would help them build positive relationships.
- Make initial sessions very relaxed and non-threatening – “just a cuppa and a blether”.
- Focus on what is achievable rather than what is challenging.
- Consider having someone trusted go to the person’s home and come along to the activity with them at first.
- Let the individual decide for themselves if/when they are ready to have a go.
- Remember that everyone is an individual. Spend time getting to know them and why they come along – this might change over time (after they’ve been involved for a while, part of their motivation to keep active may be to make their instructor proud, for example).
- Provide extra support during the first few sessions to help participants find their way around the new environment and to build trust.
- Phone people if they don’t turn up for a session to check that they are OK.
- Always be non-judgemental and encouraging.
- Remain approachable and friendly at all times – before, during and after sessions.
- Include some social time in each session – having the opportunity for a chat and a cup of tea works well!
- Be ready to remind people about upcoming sessions – people with challenging life circumstances may find it difficult to plan ahead.
Drumchapel Sports Centre
Brenda, 50, had struggled with alcoholism from age 16 until her early 40s. When her son died she became the sole carer of her 9 year old granddaughter. Despite receiving support her mental health suffered. Her GP referred her to Drumchapel Sport Centre.
Brenda was supported by her Community Link Practitioner who would come to her house, go with her to the centre and then sit and have a chat and a cup of tea while they watched what was going on.
Several months later Brenda comes along to the centre on her own, plays tennis regularly and has joined a walking group. Her granddaughter also comes along sometimes.
“My Nana’s smiles grew bigger playing tennis and going for walks, her Links Practitioner was about, to listen more and to talk”.
The Programme that “saved my life”
Where a blether and a cuppa can lead to…
“I knew this woman was going to change my life. Instantly I felt at ease and most importantly, I felt unjudged. Linda believed in me and gave me the courage to believe in myself, between grief, anxiety and being so unfit and overweight, I was lost… Both Linda and Craig have saved my life. My journey is far from over, but, without them it wouldn’t have even begun…. I know I will make them both proud as they are both amazing.”
Claire, talking about her nurse social prescriber, Linda, and trainer, Craig
“When I came out on my first ride I hadn’t been doing much exercise or going out of the house. As such my mental health was deteriorating, would I went along to the cycle very nervous, the cycle leader was amazing and reassured me. Now 10 weeks on, I’ve started going out on my own I bought a bike with the help of the hub. I’ve also being doing other activities in my own time, and it’s all down to the cycling building my confidence to then do other things.”
How do we build positive relationships with participants? PDF