Ouch Potato

My role at Community Catalysts is to work in partnership with local people to help them make connections and build relationships. I do this by supporting and promoting small community enterprises, groups and ventures that bring people together. The catalyst for this is often a simple chat, a willingness to explore possibilities, and an understanding of the basic human need for connection.

I’ve recently been working with Steve, who runs a small local enterprise called Ouch Potato that offers a unique and fun approach to fitness. Steve provides tailored exercise classes for small groups in Acomb – for people who don’t like going to the gym:

Gyms and classes can be very intimidating, so I wanted to offer a fun and relaxing experience. The whole ethos at Ouch Potato is built on friendliness, making people feel comfortable and empowering them to enjoy getting fit. – Steve Paffett, Ouch Potato

Resident, Irene Hagyard, pumping iron at Delwood House

During one of our chats, Steve mentioned that he would love to offer his services to older people and people with disabilities – a new direction for Ouch Potato.

As chance would have it, I had recently been contacted by Lizzie, the managing director of Fulford Nursing Home who, following a candid conversation at an event, had been put in touch with me by a City of York Council commissioning manager. Lizzie was on the lookout for new activities for residents, so I connected Lizzie and Steve and Ouch Potato now delivers regular seated exercise sessions for people who live at the home. People love taking part in the new activity together – and they are just that little bit fitter, healthier and happier as a result:

I met Mark after hearing of his work at a Better Care Fund event. A friend asked if I had any contacts who could help her set up a community share and care scheme in our village. We all met for a drink and I’m pleased to say the scheme has started in my village and a Christmas lunch was enjoyed by 40 plus older people in December. During the meeting I’d said I was trying to find someone who could come and do exercises with my residents to improve strength and general wellbeing. Mark put me in touch with Steve and we decided to just have a go, nothing complicated, start with 20 mins and take it from there. That was in August and Steve is now a regular Friday Fitness Fixture! You know he is in by the laughing and chatting, and even the most reluctant have a go at balloon tennis! And it started with a chance conversation, which has resulted in a great outcome for all!   Lizzie Hancock – Managing Director of Fulford Nursing Home

I’d also been speaking with Julie Graham, the Active Communities Officer for City of York Council. Julie was also on the hunt for activities that could bring together people who live in supported housing projects, known locally as Independent Living Communities. I put Steve in touch with Julie, and he now provides regular sessions for people who live at Delwood House, a local independent living centre:

Ouch Potato deliver person centred and bespoke sessions in a really relaxed and sensitive way – all in our tenants’ home environment. No Lycra, no mirrors, just good music and companionship followed by a chat and a brew. Who said exercise had to be serious…let’s get moving! – Julie Graham, Active Communities Officer, City of York Council

The benefits for people at Fulford Nursing Home and Delwood House are obvious but alongside these Steve has more customers for Ouch Potato and his small enterprise is flourishing as a result.

It’s great to see everyone getting so much out of the new classes as, all too often, people tend to ‘slip through the net’ by failing to recognise the limitless opportunities there are to connect with others. As such, I like to think of those of us involved in helping people to make those all-important connections as intersections on an increasingly tight-knit-net; that the more willing we are to pull-together, the smaller the ‘holes’ get, and the less likely people are to slip through. As the above story illustrates, it’s amazing what candid conversations between willing, active participants in this process can be the catalyst for; that it’s good to talk!

by Mark Finch
York Community Catalyst