Mental Health Awareness and First Aid Student

Mental Health

Name Matthew

Location Lewisham, London

Role My role is to get people who wouldn’t normally access the facilities and leisure centres here, by working with local partners, NGBs, and other organisations who are able to offer activities which aren’t necessarily mainstream. For example we help encourage disabled residents, women and children to access the centre, providing security and comfort.

What attracted you to take part in the mental health awareness and first aid training with Ad-Lib Training?  I took part as I thought it would be very beneficial to find out more about mental health and how to work with people with mental health conditions, especially those that deal with our GP referral scheme. 

How did you find the training?  I enjoyed the Mental Health Awareness course as it was very interesting, I especially enjoyed the course with Robin as his presentation, personality and engagement of the participants in the room made it very enjoyable.  He started off by sharing his experiences which brought the handbook to life. He made people feel at ease by going first and sharing his own experiences. We could talk freely without judgement.   I benefitted and others on the course.

Have you been able to implement any knowledge or skills from your learning in the workplace?  I am more aware of how colleagues feel, how I speak to people and how I manage them.  Being aware it may not just be a bad day for someone; it could relate to other things in their personal life, makes me more empathetic and conscientious. 

Why do you think a course like this is important in our sector?  Being a community leisure centre, we deal with a range of very vulnerable members of the public.  If our staff have the understanding and skillset to deal with all these people beyond our standard training, we will improve the service we offer.

Having the skills and awareness to be supportive in the workplace will encourage a destination sector where people want to work as we are taking it seriously; a good company with a well-rounded training package.  

What sort of people should do the qualification and why?   Anyone really!  Irrespective of their position in an organisation;  whether they are first starting out or have worked their way up to senior manager.  You want to create an environment where people are happy and confident to talk about an issue.  I think it is important, everyone should have it as part of their skillset.  

What do you do to keep healthy?   I do several things to stay fit and active.  I love a gym workout, especially to 90s dance music.  It motivates me to train harder.  I very much enjoy swimming and walking to get lost in my own thoughts. 

To find out more about Matthew, check out his blog on the website

Student Feedback Outdoor Gym Activator


Name Zillah

Location Hounslow, London

Role My role is to spend at least an hour a week at the outdoor gym, engaging with regular active visitors and potential visitors that walk by.

I give them tips on warming up and cooling down, how to use the equipment safely, different ways to get active and how to build up strength.

How long have you been volunteering for?  I have volunteered since August 2017, once a week.  Through October I have been trying to visit twice or three times a week at different times of the day.

What attracted you to the opportunity to train up in community activation and volunteer your services? After benefiting from getting active myself, for physical and mental heath, I wanted to get involved in the community.  I want to give folk the boost they might need and engage more in the science of exercise. I spotted the Gym Activator role in my borough and went for it.

How was the training day with Robin from Ad-Lib?  One day training with Robin from Ad-Lib training was easy to understand.  The day gave me great basic training to engage with the community and enough confidence to be familiar with the out door gym equipment. For me personally it gave me the boost I needed to confirm I wanted a career change into health & wellbeing. 

Your experience so far It’s been engaging & entertaining.

If you were advising someone who is nervous about trying out physical activity, what would you say?  The very act of leaving the house and walking to the outdoor gym is a perfect start. Start by just doing 10mins a week and see how you can build from there.

What does community mean to you?  In built up urban areas, the sense of community has gone. I wanted to be more involved but didn't know how. Being an Outdoor Gym Activator has given me that start and I hope to get more involved in the future.

To find out more about Zillah, check out her blog on our website.

Student Feedback Community Activator


Name Adrienne

Location Bromley-by-Bow, London

Can you give us a quick overview about yourself? I’m a 53-year-old woman, who had her first child when she was 45. I spent most of my working life at Tower Hamlets Council Press office, almost 20 years. I gave up my last job 2 years ago, working for a hospitality company, to look after my mother, who has Dementia.

What attracted you to the opportunity with the Bromley-by-Bow Centre? I started a Fit4Life session at the Bromley by Bow Centre in July (doctor recommendation), plus I’ve been attending the Employability sessions since last year.

How was the training course with Robin from Ad-Lib?   It was really interesting, better than expected and he made it fun.

Do you have an example of a fun experience on the course?  I think it was our second week, and Robin took us outside for our ‘outdoor’ physical activity session and split us up into 2 teams and we played a game, which was a bit like netball, it was so much fun and really memorable, it was like being a kid again.

Three words to describe your experience so far. Enlightening, Hard, Enjoyable

Who will you try target when volunteering in the community? I’d like to work with the 50+ category, preferably with women’s groups.  The Fit4Life group I was part of knew about me doing the Ab-Lib course and want me to contact them once I’ve completed the whole course.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of volunteering? Make sure it’s some you really want to do and you have the time to do it.  Don’t go into it half hearted.

If you were advising someone who is nervous about trying out physical activity, what would you say?  I wouldn’t ask anyone to commit to anything.  I would determine what they felt comfortable trying, whether water or chair based exercise, light exercise which could be circuit based, or maybe even dance, find a group and accompany them to their preferred first try.

What does exercise mean to you?  For a long time, exercise didn’t mean anything to me, not until I started the Fit4Life and I knew I didn’t want it to end.  When I was invited to an interview to explain what the Fit4All Ad-Lib training course was about and if I wanted to join, I wanted to say ‘no’, I didn’t want to teach it, I want to just do a class, but Colin (the interviewee) convinced me.  It’s now become part of a lifestyle I want to continue, I even go through my workout with my daughter (7 years), who now knows how to do a warm-up session.

Student Feedback Community Activator


Name Paul

Location Bromley-by-Bow, London

Can you give us a quick overview about yourself? I am a dad of three, with three grand children. I am 56 years young; a plumber by trade, polite, fun, caring, and willing to learn.

What attracted you to the opportunity with the Bromley-by-Bow Centre?  To get myself back into fitness training, and to get out more and meet people.

How was the training course with Robin from Ad-Lib?  It was very good. It was fun and enjoyable.

Do you have an example of a fun experience on the course? When someone would get a question right they would get a big BOOM, that would get people laughing and happy.

What motivates you to volunteer in the community? To help. To get to know everyone in the community.

Who will you try target when volunteering in the community? People 50+ to run Circuit training, body conditioning and speed walking sessions.

What personal qualities do you think it is essential for a volunteer to have? Entertaining, encouraging and caring.

If you were advising someone who is nervous about trying out physical activity, what would you say? I would encourage them just to come watch, to get a fill for the place.

What does exercise mean to you?  Feeling good: physically and mentally.

What does community mean to you?  Everything.. Knowing and getting on with each other and being there for someone if they need help.

What is your favourite training method? Speed walking, and circuit training.

Tell us something we don’t know about you? I have a Voice of an Angel.

What is next for you on this journey? To get myself super fit, then start in the New Year, getting onto different organisations for help, like day centres, care homes etc.

Student Feedback Exercise Referral

Exercise Referral

Name Mandy

Location Kempston, Bedford

Can you give us a quick overview about yourself? I’m 44 years old, married with two children aged 21 and 14. I came into the fitness industry quite late! I always had a job that fitted in with the kids, but as they are now older it was time to do something I was really interested in. I qualified as a gym instructor in 2016.

What attracted you to the opportunity with Fusion to get qualified in Exercise Referral?  My job requires me to work over two sites in Bedford. I do inductions for those who are new members and advise on exercises and correct technique. We run a GP referral scheme within Fusion and I was very keen to learn more about it. I was so pleased when my manager said that I had the opportunity to gain the qualification.

How was the training course with James from Ad-Lib?  James was a brilliant tutor! Very funny, informative, knowledgeable and put us all at ease on our first day of the course. He was very quick to get back to me with any questions I had regarding my case study.

How will you utilise this qualification once completed?  To use my exercise referral qualification I need to complete my level 3 in personal training, which I am about three-quarters of the way through. I aim to have this completed by September. I can’t wait to get through it so I can put my learning into action. It is very satisfying having a client come through the door, who is often very nervous or self conscious about maybe exercising for the first time, knowing you have the tools to be able to help them reach their personal goals and targets.

What is your favourite training method?  I enjoy participating in exercise classes, particularly Body Pump and Body Combat.  I try to do around five classes a week.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?  I have 2 dogs so long walks are also part of my exercise routine!

What is next for you on this journey?  I intend to gain experience working within Fusion. The next steps for me would be to look at an Exercise After A Stroke qualification.  I am also interested in Exercise for Cancer Survivors and Patients, as there are so many people that can benefit from exercise after an illness.

Where can we find out more information about your sessions? I will let you know once I have completed my Personal Training course!

What is your favourite quote?  My favourite quote is "If it doesn’t challenge you. It won’t change you!"

Student Feedback NHS

NHS Professional

Name Shakira

Location Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust

Role Occupational Therapy Support Worker

Can you give us a quick overview about yourself? I have worked in Mental Health for eight years. At the Trust I split my time working with patients at the Highgate Mental Health Centre and St. Pancras hospital.

What does your role involve?  I support patients with their activities of daily living and encourage social inclusion via employment opportunities and access to community groups.

In addition, I deliver tennis sessions and walking groups and support circuit training. The aim is for patients to be active three times per week.

What attracted you to take part in the training with Ad-Lib?  I wanted to learn new skills and acquire more knowledge that would give me confidence in delivering safe exercise to our patients.

What did you find particularly interesting on the course? The introduction to “Motivational Interviewing” style of communication and I loved the “patient centred empowerment” approach. It’s been useful to find out what patients really want to do in terms of physical activity.

What motivates you to continue learning? I have a great desire to help people be the best they can be.  It is so rewarding to see our patients grow.  The more I learn, the more effective I can be.

What else have you been able to implement from your learning on the course? I have used the guidelines to structure my exercise sessions, especially the warm up and cool down exercises.  I communicate differently; asking more questions and listening to patients when they talk about their exercise and activity goals.

What are the most important qualities a person in your role should have? Rapport, engagement skills, patience and a flexible approach.

What does exercise mean to you personally Shakira? It makes me feel good.  I think faster, I feel well and it clears my head.

What is next for you on this journey? I am half way through becoming a fully qualified Occupational Therapist, so I will be even more effective in helping people to live meaningful lives. 

What is your favourite quote? “When life gives you lemons, make Melononade!”

To find out more about Shakira and our partnership with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust click here to check out Shakira’s blog.

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