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Fit as a Fiddle

Age UK was awarded funding under the Big Lottery Wellbeing Programme to deliver the fit as a fiddle portfolio across nine English regions supporting older people aged over 55 to lead active and healthier lifestyles.  Sporting Equals is one of the five national partners to the Age UK fit as a fiddle cascade training programme and was commissioned in 2009 to deliver the faith and community strand.  The aim of the project was to support people over the age of 55 to achieve outcomes focused on three main strands:

  • Improving and developing levels of physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Mental wellbeing

The project enabled the development of a tailor-made training package for Ethnically Diverse Communities and faith communities to enable opportunities for physical activity and wellbeing through supported interventions. The project worked with local partner organisations to deliver a bespoke training programme for volunteers and a package of activities to support those over the age of 55.  

Phase 1 was used primarily to develop the training material, volunteer resources and was supported by 39 delivery partners who helped run training and deliver roadshows as part of the wider messaging.  Phase one engaged 5,532 older people from disadvantage communities through training and roadshows and trained 289 volunteers.

Phase 2 was supported through extension funding which enabled Sporting Equals to work in partnership with Eastern Lives (Age UK Lancashire), Polish Senior Citizen Group (Midlands) and Chinese Community Centre (Midlands) and Chinese Mental Health Association (London).  Three bespoke modules were designed to help support organisations working with South Asian, Chinese and Polish older people over the age of 55. The modules were developed to sit alongside the national training pack, which were developed to act as supplementary resources for organisations working with these target groups. Phase two engaged 637 people, training 137 staff and support 379 older people.  

The final phase (3) took place in 2014/15 which was aimed at cascading training to delivery partners enabling them to independently deliver training using the national training packs. In total 30 delivery partners were engaged in the cascade training across the country which was delivered to groups of 4-8 volunteers with the agreed output that at least one member of the group who attended the training workshop would cascade the training to another group of volunteers.  In total 998 older beneficiaries were engaged and phase three reached over 1,200 people.







Older Beneficiaries

Total Reach

Phase 1

Training & Roadshows






Phase 2

Bespoke Modules






Phase 3











The partner projects frequently reported that the training and experience gained by the volunteers has also had a positive impact on their organisations, providing them with a pool of culturally sensitive, skilled volunteers able to take delivery forward in a time of restricted funding opportunities.  Projects also reported beneficial impacts on older people who had participated in activities, including improved self-esteem, self-confidence, physical health and mental wellbeing.  A number of older people (and volunteers) reported changes in diet and a greater understanding of healthy eating, and some reported immediate benefits from their own physical activity.  The added cascade element has enabled long term sustainability and behaviour change in projects.

To access the end of project evaluation reports for each phase, please click on the links below.

Training and fit as a fiddle toolkit resources are still available for organisations, for further information please contact Shaheen Bi, Head of Research & Projects, 0121 7771375.