Rob Juson – Chair of Trustees

Rob Juson – Chair of Trustees

As Chair of Trustees of this remarkable charity I am frequently asked the question, “what makes The Reach for Health Centre so successful?” It is probably the easiest question for me to answer because it is the one thing that all of our Trustees are most proud of, “our coaching team.” I spend a lot of my time at the centre and over the years have witnessed the substantial improvements the team have made to the lives of many hundreds of people using a combination of patience, encouragement and skill. I have also learned not to underestimate their ability and focused determination to achieve the best possible outcomes, often way beyond expectations. The coaching team have devised a method of working as individuals and teams to derive the best possible results for those that attend the centre in need of health rehabilitation. They each have individual areas of responsibility that are designed to dovetail and encourage communication and support from each other. Wadge Grzelak is our centre director and mentor to every member of our coaching team.  He has substantial experience in physical and mental health rehabilitation, as well as being ‘hands on’ he puts this wealth of knowledge to good use in guiding the team to continually improve our services and outcomes. Wadge also leads all aspects of the partnership we have with the University of Northampton. Dan Miller is our centre manager, a chartered physiotherapist and placement supervisor for University of Northampton Occupational Therapy students.  Dan is also involved in a major research project being conducted jointly by The Reach for Health Centre and The University of Northampton. Karen Miller is our Cancer Rehabilitation lead, she is a coach very experienced in physical and mental health rehabilitation and tailors programs for both pre and post surgery. Maisy Radford is our DNAfit lead, a new service enabling fitness and nutrition to be specifically tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup. Maisy is also a placement supervisor for UoN Occupational Therapy students and involved in the joint research project. Harriet Crossley is our medical referrals lead, ensuring that all NHS referrals are seen by the coach best suited to their individual needs. Harriet is also responsible for organising the staff rota and keeps everyone in line! Connor Morris is our falls prevention lead and will be taking on the responsibility for the new initiative to be launched late Summer/early Autumn 2020, ‘AHA’ – Active Healthy Ageing.  A tailored program designed for the more mature who are reasonably fit, active and healthy to stay that way for as long as possible.
Remarkable people, forming a remarkable team, achieving remarkable things in health rehabilitation.
Over 95% of our users are now referred to us by their GP’s, NHS Hospital doctors and consultants or other Health Professionals.  We are currently receiving in the region of 500 new NHS referrals per year.  Despite the fact that we are recognised so strongly by the NHS we receive no income from them or any other governmental organisation.    Our current sources of income are derived from a small monthly charge to users, that equates to an average of £2.40 per visit, local fundraising carried out by our staff, volunteers, members and trustees and occasional grants that are invariably used to purchase new equipment. If you or your organisation wish to be associated with this amazing charity please contact me to discuss how you can help or for any further information that you may require. We would be very pleased to hear from any potential commercial sponsors.
Dr. Matthew Davies – General Practitioner

Dr. Matthew Davies – General Practitioner

‘’Thank you doctor- that’s the best thing you have ever advised me to do.”

That sums up people’s reaction after joining The Reach for Health Centre, (RfH), and experiencing the support that patients with a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological conditions receive within this rehabilitative centre.

I am a local GP and the Medical Director of the local Clinical Commissioning Group, which organises and pays for health care. I firmly believe in the physical, psychological and social benefits of exercise.

I first met the team at RfH six years ago after a pub conversation backfired and resulted in me entering a sponsored cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats. For the ride to be meaningful, I decided to support an exercise-based charity. It was at this point that I discovered that RfH is categorically not just a gym – it is so much more than that. The first time I visited The Reach for Health Centre, I was met by a group of more mature clients, who, while they were exercising, were also putting the world to rights and laughing a lot. Clearly they were adding life to their years and having a great time. The atmosphere of positivity was infective and certainly kept me going up some of those Scottish hills.

Being able to refer patients to The Reach for Health Centre is invaluable for the whole range of people that I see. Young and old, sad, injured or having a long term health condition; everybody benefits from the tailored program that they develop with the team. The goals that are set are suitable to their condition and particular circumstances and the greatest encouragement that they get is from other members. The smile on the face and change in attitude of the sceptics who come back to the surgery after a couple of sessions is inspiring.

Undoubtedly, exercise and rehabilitation are an essential part of a high quality pathway of care for people with any chronic condition. Evidence has shown that helping somebody to be more active reduces their risk of developing diabetes and helps people in their recovery from an episode of depression. Keeping older people active helps prevent falls, improves breathlessness and promotes independence – especially after an illness.  Unfortunately, the pressure on the NHS means that rehabilitation and exercise are at the back of the queue when it comes to available resources. This serves to further underline the need for The Reach for Health Centre to continue to provide their outstanding expertise for those in our community that are in need of it.

I am a passionate believer in the benefits of exercise – getting people active, engaged and energised is the key to a healthy and motivated population. It is the antidote to our unhealthy lifestyles where we spend long hours in front of our televisions or computer screens.

 During late Summer 2020 The Reach for Health Centre will be moving into a much bigger, purpose-designed building where they will be able to build on the fabulous work that has been achieved by the team so far. More people will have the opportunity to enhance, and in many cases, rebuild their lives. We are lucky to have this unique Charity working so hard for people in need in our local community.


Wadge Grzelak – Centre Director

Wadge Grzelak – Centre Director

The number of people over the age of 65 is predicted to rise to 24% of the population by 2035. In 1975 those living past 65 was only 14.1%. This increase is largely due to huge advances in modern medicine and people’s living conditions and lifestyle resulting in people living longer. This impacts in a number of ways, perhaps the most significant being that longer life often results in serious health conditions occurring. The increase in life expectancy of the population is already having a major impact on the NHS, Social care and the economy.  In future years this is only likely to become greater. It is therefore vital that we tackle two principal issues; we educate people in ways to improve their fitness, diet and lifestyle and find ways to deal with the need for health rehabilitation for those already affected and who will become affected by major health issues.

The Reach for Health Centre is striving to make a difference, to do more than just help people live longer, it is dedicated to adding quality of life to those extra years, thereby reducing the impact of major health issues and lower the cost to the NHS. However, promoting the appropriate activity with older people still remains one of the greatest challenges of our time. The benefits of staying active are even greater as we get older, exercise can be adapted to any medical condition, and like medication exercise follows a dose response curve. The lower the baseline levels of physical activity, the greater the health benefits associated with an increase in physical activity.

The team at The Reach for Health Centre achieves this by focusing on the impact that the health condition, developmental difficulty or resulting disability has had on the person’s life. This involves working in partnership with the person’s Health Professional and teaming up with the individual and those important to them. With the support of our dedicated local doctors, highly skilled nurses and other health professionals. 

Diabetes is costing the NHS £1.5 million pounds every hour! and ranks in the top 5 referrals we receive at Reach for Health.

A study showed 90 year olds rejuvenated strength of some 10-20 years in only 12 weeks of following a prescribed exercise program.

The W.H.O. attributes 37% of all coronary heart disease related deaths to inactivity.

Source: Office of National Statistics

Joan Dupey

Joan Dupey

‘Inspiring Times’ is certainly a fitting title for the work of Reach for Health and the impact this has had on those, like me, who make use of it.  In January 2013 I suffered a serious haemorrhagic stroke, requiring life-saving brain surgery, and was discharged from hospital some 7 months later with a full hoist, a lack of mobility in my left limbs, no left-field vision, very little short-term memory and, perhaps worst of all, a deepening despair about my future.  The NHS provided valuable support in the early stages of my injury, particularly from those specialists operating in the front line.  However, one soon discovers that this support is always temporary, especially for those patients who have difficulty in making rapid and sustained progress in the early stages.  While the NHS will strive heroically to keep us alive, our families have to seek other sources of rehabilitation which are not easily found without great personal effort and expense.  Nevertheless, it is fair to say that Reach for Health has become the major source of progress and a significant haven of hope for me: and for those at home who devote many hours to my care, amusement and additional practice.  A unique feature of the gym is its atmosphere of good humour and support, not just generated from the staff, but more especially from fellow members who follow each other’s progress closely and freely offer their congratulations for any sign of improvement.  Many would site this as a significant antidote to despair and a major reason why they continue the struggle against the odds.

Over time, it dawned on us that Reach for Health has no interest in resting on its laurels.  Indeed, as the brochure explains, this is not even an option. Not only does it recruit able staff and volunteers, it helps them to keep up to date in their knowledge and training in what is a rapidly changing field of medicine and development of techniques to aid rehabilitation from brain injury.  The notice boards are never stale, repeatedly offering new fund-raising ventures, new courses designed for existing and new members, along with details of external sources of interest and support.  Trustees of the charity are frequent visitors to the gym and it is obvious from overheard conversations between them and staff that the organisation is full of ideas and the energy to fulfil them.  They already have an excellent record in planning and developing a first-rate enterprise.  This has continued to provide a rare and valuable resource for those seeking to overcome life-changing injuries and doing so in a very difficult financial environment.  Without our help the chances of its own survival are uncertain and, if it fails to survive, what message will it leave for others who would seek to follow its example.  As a consequence, those who know will happily do whatever we can to sustain and, if possible, help it to expand this dream for those who follow us.