A UNIQUE pilot project which is designed to support people to make lifestyle changes to live a healthier future – and reduce the impact on our health services - has proved to be a success.

Participants on the six-week programme, which brought together health professionals at a weekly meeting at St James Park – the home of Exeter City FC – say it has already changed their lives.

The pilot was developed by Exeter City Community Trust, the partner charity of Exeter City Football Club, in partnership with Nexus Primary Care Network, which oversees five GP practices across the city.

It brought together health professionals, including doctors, dieticians and wellbeing coaches, who offered advice on diet and healthy eating, activity, strategies to manage anxiety and overcome barriers which impact lifestyle choices.

The first group of 15 people has completed the initial six-week programme and results have been positive, with participants adopting new healthier lifestyles, changing eating habits and taking up regular exercise, including some of the group embarking on Couch to 5k.

Danny Harris, head of services at Exeter City Community Trust, said: “Part of our mission as a charity working at the heart of our community is to support people to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

“We are delighted with the results of this pilot which has shown the impact that collaborative working can bring. We’re very grateful to the participants who have taken part and contributed so positively. Our aim was to equip the group with the tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle, which, of course is great for them and their families, but also reduces the future impact on our health services.”

Dr David Hopkins, GP Partner Mount Pleasant Health Centre, who has contributed to the programme, said: “It was genuinely exciting to welcome 15 people to our inaugural healthier lifestyles programme, linking the doctors, dieticians, and wellbeing services of the Nexus PCN with the Exeter City Community Trust, based at Exeter City Football Club.

“We all know that to maintain a healthy lifestyle can be difficult, and normally patients recognise that they face a combination of challenges - perhaps from physical, biological, psychological or social pressures.

“By embracing a multi-disciplinary team approach, to address not just one, but all the key areas needed to rebuild a healthy life, we hope to achieve genuine long-term health and success for this first wave of patients."

Andy Stapley, chair of Nexus PCN, added: “Since the introduction of Primary Care Networks in 2019 the move towards collaboration with external organisations has gathered pace and Nexus PCN has recognised that solid partnership working can enhance the patient experience.

“At a time when demand for healthcare is outstripping supply the need for greater collaboration is apparent to all and we truly value our new partnership with Exeter City Community Trust.”