Nov 3, 2023

Urban green spaces can offer a brilliant opportunity for local residents to be more active, so when the Wellbeing Exeter Community Physical Activity Organiser Felicity got in touch with Live and Move, it was one particular small green space that she had in mind – Merrivale Park.

Merrivale Park is a small triangle of green space, sitting right in the middle of the Merrivale community of St Thomas in Exeter. Felicity worked alongside Live and Move to see whether we might help to fund a series of activities for local residents to encourage them to be more active. It was important to provide activities that would have a broad appeal, and due to the large numbers of families in the area, it was important to provide something for all ages.

Together we worked upon a six week trial programme of activities aimed at both adults and children, so that as many people as possible would be encouraged to use this space. The trial took place in the summer of 2023.

Activities consisted of Fitness & Wellbeing for the over 65s, Gentle Mindful Movement sessions for anybody aged over 14, football sessions for those aged 2-15, and Body Conditioning for anybody over 14. It was important in some cases to have the football taking place at the same time as adults’ sessions, so that parents could really enjoy their activity knowing that their children were being looked after and having fun and at the same time!

This broad range of activities went down really well with participants.

Local resident Fraire said: “Today is our second session at football factory. We have been so impressed. I have a four year old and a seven year old and it was so lovely they could both be involved. Lee was extremely engaging. He was so interactive with the children and made it really fun. I have lived in St Thomas for my whole life and love there is something local for our children and something for free. Thankyou!”

Felicity said that seeing so many local people engage with these activities was very positive indeed.

She added: “This programme of activities was very much a trial, just to see the sorts of things that might work. I’m so pleased to report that all of our activities were very well attended, and it’s already got us thinking about what else we might do in the future.”

The programme was such a success that plans are already being made to roll out similar activities in 2024. Did you attend any of the free activities in Merrivale? We’d love to hear how they went!

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