A mental health nurse at Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I) has won the prestigious London Sport Coach of the Year award for her work delivering a specially-designed exercise programme for people with mental health conditions.
Charlotte Evans, who is also a personal trainer, beat 350 entries to be announced as winner for her unique sports project Sole2Soul at an awards ceremony at The 02 arena.
Combining her personal training and mental health nursing expertise, Charlotte created the Sole2Soul programme to help improve service users’ physical, social and mental well-being, by introducing them to exercise and helping them develop their confidence to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.
Service users access the programme through classes and personal training sessions which Charlotte delivers on inpatient wards and in the community for young people and adults experiencing mental illnesses, such as psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia, personality disorder and depression.
Paula, a service user with bipolar disorder, described the benefits she has felt since participating regularly in Charlotte’s aerobic sessions: “I feel energised. My concentration is better and I am more focused after the classes. I really enjoy myself and will be coming again.”
The award acknowledges the work of individuals who have created an inspiring environment for Londoners to achieve their potential in physical activity and sport.
Charlotte said: “Winning has been by far the highlight of my career. It has been so rewarding seeing the improvement in service users’ physical, social and mental wellbeing. It’s humbling to see how something so simple can be so significant to people with mental health conditions.”
She paid tribute to her partner and Sole2Soul Project Manager, Toby Giles, Chris Anderson, Governance Manager at London Sport and former Deputy Director of Nursing, Fiona Nolan, for their support and guidance.
Charlotte first approached C&I with the idea for the exercise programme after securing funding of £10,000 following a successful bid to the London Sports Project, which aims to get more young people in London active.
Fiona Nolan who nominated Charlotte said: “Charlotte has used her clinical skills and personal trainer knowledge to great effect in this project. People with serious mental health issues are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, and are proven to die between 16 and 25 years younger than the rest of the population from diseases related to smoking, obesity and poor lifestyle choices, including lack of exercise.”
“Charlotte is a fantastic role model for mental health professionals and also for personal trainers wishing to work with vulnerable groups.”
The programme aims to impact positively on all aspects of patients’ health and wellbeing. It is linked into the Trust’s new Clinical Strategy* – one of whose aims is to work in a recovery-orientated way.
Following her success with the programme Charlotte has been offered further funding for the project and plans to approach more NHS Trusts. She will continue to deliver the exercise programme to service users at C&I.
We provide mental health and substance misuse services to people living in Camden and Islington, and a substance misuse and psychological therapies service to residents in Kingston. We have two inpatient facilities, at Highgate Mental Health Centre and St Pancras Hospital, as well as community based services throughout the London boroughs of Camden and Islington. Our Trust is also a member of University College London Partners (UCLP), one of the world’s leading academic health science partnerships.
We provide services for adults of working age, adults with learning difficulties, and older people in the London area either in a community or inpatient setting.
Our income for 2015/16 was £138million and we have approximately 1,700 staff. Our staff work in multi-disciplinary teams providing a holistic approach to recovery. This means that we often work with partner agencies and the voluntary sector. Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care Trust was established in 2002. In March 2008 we became the first Care Trust to achieve Foundation Trust status and are licensed by NHS Improvement.