Military personnel across Somerset and the south west who need a stay at a mental health ward in Taunton are now benefiting from free gym membership.
Rydon ward, which is on the Wellsprings Hospital site, has supported members of the Ministry of Defence for the last eight years.
Taunton and the surrounding area is home to many hundreds of serving or former military personnel, some of who benefit from a stay at Rydon ward.
The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services in the county, has teamed up with Snap Fitness to make sure members of the armed forces, past and present, are still able to keep fit during their stay at hospital.
Jez Eagle, ward manager at Rydon ward, said: “We’ve noticed that when members of the armed forces need a stay on our ward they often want to continue to keep as physically fit as ever so we want to make sure they get the best possible support to do this.
“Physical activity in hospital also provides structure, routine and occupation to their day – a similar lifestyle to when they serve in the Ministry of Defence.
“There is also strong evidence to suggest that physical activity helps accelerate mental health recovery.
“We are proud to have developed a link with Snap Fitness who have kindly provided two free gym memberships for armed forces personnel to use when they stay with us.”
Stephen Davies, wellbeing lead at Rydon and Holford wards, said:
“As someone that has come from a sporting background, I can understand the benefits of activity. It also provides opportunities to meet new people and share interests.
“It’s great to now be able to utilise a fantastic facility, Snap Fitness and work with people who are just as passionate about giving others the best chance they can.
“I would personally like to thank everyone at Snap Fitness for their help and support in getting this project started.”
Leanne Perkins, club manager at Snap Fitness Taunton, said:
‘We are so glad to form this link with Rydon ward. Being able to help and support members of the military service while they are based at Rydon ward and offer them the ability to continue with their training is a privilege.
“At Snap Fitness we pride ourselves on supporting each of our members to reach their goals, no matter what they might be. The military service does an amazing job in some of the toughest conditions and being able to offer some of this support back in their time of need is an honour.”
The link up with Snap Fitness is the first of a number of physical activity initiatives that Rydon ward is hoping to provide following feedback from patients. These potentially include setting up a sport group and upgraded sporting equipment.