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Harlequins Foundation have been shortlisted alongside Open Age and Social Action for Health
Harlequins Foundation have been shortlisted alongside Open Age and Social Action for Health

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London Sport Awards 2021 nominees: The Health & Wellbeing Award - Harlequins Foundation

Harlequins Foundation have been shortlisted in the London Sport Awards after their ‘Diabetes Decathlon’ programme gave patients a crucial exercise lifeline throughout the pandemic.

Based in Twickenham, south-west London, the foundation works on various different projects across the community and have been shortlisted for The Health and Wellbeing Award, in association with Gympass.

The ‘Diabetes Decathlon’ scheme takes those aged 40-80 at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and enables them to be more active and live a healthier lifestyle.

Participants take part in a ten-week programme designed to help them lose weight and make permanent positive changes. They received rewards throughout the programme through the Sweatcoin app.

Hollie Smith, Foundation Wellbeing Manager at Harlequins Foundation, continued to keep the sessions running through lockdown and admits she couldn’t be prouder to make such a difference.

She said: “We wanted to continue helping these people because when you see people for two hours every week, you begin to get close to them, they become more like friends and you really create a nice relationship with them.

“You look out for these people and it was sad they couldn’t come to exercise sessions anymore. They just wanted to continue and we wanted to help them do that, to help them progress and keep their spirits up because it was hard going into lockdown.

“After the end of every session I just feel so happy, and the gratitude I have from the participants just gives you such a good feeling.

“They’re all so lovely, willing to learn and so thankful for what we’ve put on. Just knowing you're making a difference to people’s lives is such an amazing feeling.”

Over the last five years, the annual London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, has grown to become the biggest celebration of grassroots physical activity and sport in the city. 

And this year’s showpiece event will once again recognise, celebrate and shine a light on the stories of the incredible individuals, groups, and organisations for their outstanding work across the capital, helping Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.

Around 5m people across the country are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes – with approximately 200,000 people diagnosed every year – a statistic that highlights the crucial importance of the Harlequins Foundation’s work.

South West London Clinical Commissioning Group's Project Manager, Chris Gumble, 36, assisted the scheme from a nutritional standpoint and added: “The work we do in our partnership with Harlequins has a dramatic impact on people’s lives.

“When people come they’re a little dubious, they’re not too sure what to expect.

“The information we put across, the fun we bring to the learning, the group and social dynamic that makes people believe that there’s a real easy, credible way to have a big impact on their life, is something that both us at NHS SWL and Harlequins are really proud of.”

Words: Oli Dickson Jefford (Sportsbeat)

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