MORE than 200 people have been helped to get fitter and healthier in the first year of a project funded by the National Lottery.
The John Pounds Centre in the city centre was given financial backing by the charity two years ago to help improve the wellbeing of Portsmouth’s residents.
One of the centre’s main projects which is run in conjunction with the NHS is already been hailed as a success.
Matt Mason, director of the Queen Street centre, said it would not have been possible to run the services without Lottery funding.
‘The money allowed us to set up two parts of the project,’ Matt explained.
‘One is a healthy living scheme that allows us to link in with the local medical centre and the NHS. Patients get referred to us and they go on our 10-week programme.
‘We have got a fitness site here that they use. They get one-to-one support with our fitness instructors while they are here.
‘Many of them are being referred to us with problems like diabetes and heart disease. The aim is to help to take control of their health with the aim of getting healthy and getting them out of the NHS so they are not relying on doctors and pills.’
Mr Mason said within the first year of its launch, the centre’s project had received more than 200 referrals.
He said: ‘The programme is focused on preventing and dealing with obesity.
‘The idea is in that time they will stay with us and use the gym services we already had.’
In October 2011, the National Lottery granted the centre £258,974 to set up its health and fitness programme.
The gym houses 20 cardiovascular machines, six resistance stations, weight area and spinning area for its clients to use. But it was staffing and resources that the grant particularly helped with, according to Mr Mason.
Along with the fitness programme, a juice bar was also set up with the grant.
He added: ‘We now have the JP Juice Bar that runs from the centre here and is also mobile. We take that to local schools and community events to promote the benefits of healthy eating. We have a volunteer programme to help young people with employment experience.’
Without funding, Mr Mason said the centre would have to find the money itself, meaning services would potentially not be run.
‘Clients would not have the one-to-one service here.
‘We would really rely on clients to think off their own back – we know generally that would not happen.’