About Mentro Allan

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Over the past five years the Mentro Allan programme has been supporting and monitoring 14 projects across Wales providing practical support to a range of sedentary groups (e.g. the over 50s, young single mothers, people with physical disabilities or with mental health problems, carers, young people, people from Black Minority and Ethnic communities). These projects emerged from an experimental local partnership-forming process described below whose first task was to identify potential participants in selected localities around Wales for whom tailor-made outreach and support projects could be designed and delivered to change their lifestyles.

The experiences described in the papers have been distilled from the carefully recorded experiences of these projects as they first made contact with their target participants, began to understand their needs, gave them their first taste of physical activity, helped them establish a regular pattern of activity and then supported their transition towards sustainable active lifestyles independent of the projects. Each project adopted an experimental approach, testing what seemed to work through observation and dialogue with participants using action research. This helped successful practical strategies to be honed through user feedback.

Partnership working was a fundamental element of all the projects, and of the programme as a whole. Given the pioneering nature of a programme focused on ‘hard-to-reach’ and ‘hard-to-engage’ sedentary people, one of the key challenges has been to forge many completely new partnership structures and to make them work practically and strategically. Not surprisingly this has proved to be a dynamic, complex and sometimes turbulent experience, but while a few of the partnerships have struggled at times, most have developed into effective mechanisms for sharing expertise and resources, and many may endure and evolve as Mentro Allan reaches its sustainability phase.