“Volunteering for Greenfields helped me launch a business that improves lives”

“Volunteering for Greenfields helped me launch a business that improves lives”
30th January 2018 Amanda Bhavnani

In 2014, a freak accident left carer, Jane McClure, disabled and homeless. After moving into a Greenfields Community Housing home and recovering with the help of our classes aimed at adults with mobility issues and health conditions, Jane has launched a chair-based exercise business to give her family a stable future:

Jane, then 45, moved to Braintree from Bristol four years ago, to be closer to her family and partner. As she and her 9-year-old daughter, Charli, were moving into their new, privately-rented home, Jane slipped on the stairs, rupturing her Achilles tendon and dramatically changing her life in one moment:

“I didn’t walk again for two years. Luckily, I was able to receive a transplant of my toe tendon, which has now left me disabled but able to walk. However, my recovery involved spending the next five months in bed, and I experienced what it was like to have carers that weren’t up to standard. I resolved that if I can somehow postpone someone needing carers, that’s a good thing.”

As Jane was unable to work, she couldn’t continue to privately rent. When her landlord sold the property, she and Charli were temporarily housed in “emergency housing” by Braintree District Council, before moving into their new Greenfields home in Halstead. Unfortunately, around this time, Charli developed a rare condition called Idiopathic Hypersomnia, which means that she is excessively sleepy. Jane explains how it affects them both:

“She can come home after school on Friday, go to bed at 4pm, and not get up again until 4pm on Sunday. In fact, she once slept for 63 hours straight! It’s very tough on both of us, as we can’t have much of a social life.”

In 2016, Charli finally began responding to her treatments and Jane was able to think about how she could support them financially and secure their future:

“I found out about Greenfields’ chair-based exercise classes (CBE) in 2015, and I thought they sounded ideal for me, as I’m quite limited on the type of exercise I can do. I went to my first class later that year at Halstead Leisure Centre and loved it. I then decided to become a “buddy” and then was trained by Greenfields to become a “leader” of classes in Halstead and Braintree.”

Jane was then approached by Uttlesford District Council, who were impressed with her caring and encouraging style, and wanted her to run her own class in Saffron Walden. Jane says: “It’s very important for me that my daughter learns that you work for a living, and I decided to start my own business teaching classes.”

When another chair-based leader took over the class in Braintree, two ladies told her that they wouldn’t attend classes if she wasn’t teaching them. Jane started a new class in Rayne, which the ladies were very happy to come along to instead.

Last year, Jane began leading her own classes at Halstead Leisure Centre, Earls Colne Conservative Club, Riverside Court sheltered housing in Halstead, and Abbeyfield sheltered accommodation in Braintree. Her reputation is so good that two ladies who attend her class in Saffron Walden told her that 18 residents who lived in their scheme were interested in trying CBE, so Jane began a class there.

Jane is very touched by the difference her classes can make to people’s lives: “Thanks to CBE, for the first time, a grandad managed to help himself out of his seat and over to the dinner table on Christmas Day. And one lady used to fall over several times a day. Now when she goes to fall, she is able to steady herself and stop it. And for me, personally, if I didn’t do it, I’d be back to using a walking stick.”

“I love going home at the end of the day and thinking: “Today, I made somebody’s life a little bit better.”

Would you like to try chair-based exercise classes? If you’re a Greenfields resident, you can find out about our classes by clicking on this link: Health and wellbeing

If you would like to attend one of Jane’s classes, or know of an opportunity for her to start a new class where you live, email jane@lifelongcbe.co.uk or call 07944 919 328.