Chatter Chairs Summary Report

The Chatter Chairs project was funded as part of Brightlife’s ‘Bright Ideas’ strand. This fund encouraged local groups, voluntary organisations and businesses to come forward with ideas to reduce isolation and loneliness for older people within areas or communities of interest.

Chatter Chairs was delivered by DIVA Fitness, a personal training company based in Cheshire, with an initial award of £10,500 plus extension funding of £5,956.

Key learning

  • Promotional videos can provide excellent value for money over print marketing.
  • Investment in brand development and marketing at an early stage is crucial for success.
  • PR activity can be extremely valuable in promoting a brand and opening up new opportunities for collaboration.

 

Development and delivery

Chair-based group exercise club Chatter Chairs was set up to help over-50s develop their muscle strength, flexibility and balance, while improving their social connections.

Weekly sessions were established in two delivery areas (with a third session in an additional area introduced after 12 months). A small per-participant fee was introduced to cover ongoing costs. The delivery team reported facing challenges with negotiation of venue hire costs.

The delivery team received help from the Brightlife marketing team to establish and promote the Chatter Chairs brand, including through the development of a distinct logo and visual identity, a professional website and a branded uniform. A professional promotional video was also produced, which was reported to have provided excellent value for money over print marketing.

Participants were recruited through informal referral by pharmacists and physiotherapists, as well as a display advertising campaign in the delivery areas, including leaflets and posters in public and community venues. The delivery team encountered challenges enlisting recruitment support from GP surgery staff and other community health workers, due to privacy rules and an objection to promoting a chargeable service.

During the evaluation, some participants were put off by the ‘intrusive’ questions in the CMF questionnaire and said that they didn’t want to complete a second one. The delivery team reported a reluctance from participants to admit to being lonely, even in cases where they were clearly very socially isolated.

 

Impact and legacy

Participants reported that they enjoyed chatting to others throughout the session and catching up over free refreshments after the session, as well appreciating the physical benefits of exercise and developing more confidence to attend other groups.

The project was particularly valued by disabled clients and those with long-term conditions (such as dementia and Parkinsons), who said that they usually missed out on mainstream group activities.

The Chatter Chairs brand is now firmly established and the business continues to thrive, with two new members of staff having been employed to deliver sessions. Additional (30-minute) sessions have also been introduced in care homes and day care centres.

Brightlife helped Chatter Chairs to secure coverage in a national news publication (Metro), which has led to discussions about expanding delivery of the project nationwide.

 

Media Library

Videos

Chatter Chairs

Useful Links