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Multisports at INUF in Stratford

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Finding Ithaca House – the HQ of the Independent Newham Users Forum (INUF) was a task in itself.  I was unconvinced that such a diminutive little doorway could hold a series of sports halls, offices and computer rooms so I walked past it a few more times than I’d like to admit. When I did eventually make it through the doors and past reception, the building revealed its Tardis-like properties and I got lost inside the building as well…

Anyway, INUF is one of the partner organisations of Well London and has been running since 2002. The aim of the charity is to create a safe haven for those with mental health issues and also to provide the facilities where service users can start to get back on the road to recovery.

I was here to see Multisports, one part of the INUF project, which is funded by Well London and is run by INUF service user and owner of wellbeing charity, Active Plus – Des Blake. The Multisports programme focuses on the importance of being active and participating in exercise to create an overall sense of Wellbeing. Des explained the overall aim of the classes, “We do all sorts of things, table-tennis, badminton, I’ve got a really good walking programme, there’s a level one, a level two and a level three walk and everyone who does it loves it.”

Des’s enthusiasm is infectious and his instructions are kind and clear and there’s always a little push of encouragement to each of his students to ‘move a bit quicker’ or ‘change the pace’. Occasionally the class breaks down with laughter when Des tells everyone they’re only allowed very long steps or suddenly changes the team members mid-game. “Right. Everyone stand still and wipe the sweat of your brows.” Cue highly exaggerated brow wiping which then becomes an exercise in itself.

The class I watched also picked up a game where coloured balls were scattered round the room and were collected by two teams. Participants immediately start working together and their ball skills and co-ordination are also tested. People start talking to one another and the process becomes highly social and clearly gratifying. The class finishes with a quick round of badminton and a warm down and I’m feeling a bit disappointed that I didn’t get there early to have joined in.

INUF’s project co-ordinator Humaira Hussain, said “it’s been a really successful project. What we intended to happen has happened. Users have been able to participate in a wide range of sports and people have gotten healthier and want it to continue. I think it shows the worth of running a project for an extended period [Multisports has been going for 48 weeks] and we’re looking for more funding as we speak so that it can continue. Thank you to Well London for taking it this far.”

If you’d like to find out more about what goes on at enough you can check their website at or email Humaira at INUF is open for drop in use between 10.30 to 16.30 every Monday to Thursday.

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