A series of community cafes for people with long-term health conditions have been launched.

Held across Southampton, the Active Living Community Café scheme is aimed at understanding the experiences of people with long-term health conditions in trying to remain active.

Any person with a long-term health condition is welcome to join the initiative which is part of a research project by the University of Southampton.

The project is led by Dr James Gavin, lecturer in musculoskeletal health, and Luisa Holt, research fellow in the university’s Active Living Research Group.

Ms Holt said: “The cafés are a new approach in our research, in a move to be more inclusive and to involve harder-to-reach people.

“Engaging with local physical activities is important to people – and it’s important for opportunities for such activities to be on people’s doorsteps, whether that’s a social walking group, an exercise class, or facilities such as a gym.

“When you have a long-term health condition, there is a concern about exacerbating symptoms or making things worse.

“Patients want to be able to check in with healthcare professionals if needed. And the evidence is that if you don’t exercise you are putting yourself more at risk of problems than if you do.”

Mimi Peertum, from Southampton, attended a previous Active Living Café at St Mary’s Stadium.

The 55-year-old, who has osteoporosis that causes back pain, said: “Movement and exercise help me with the pain I get, but it is very difficult to motivate yourself to do exercises at home.

"The cafés are a brilliant idea, because you are with other people so it is more motivating.

"The sessions are also giving us a voice to discuss better care.

"My health condition has improved by being more active.”

On Wednesday, 19 June, an event will take place from 11am – 1pm at Active Nation Bitterne Leisure Centre.

Thornhill Baptist Church will host a similar event on Tuesday, 9 July from 9.30am – 11.30am.

Lastly, on Monday, 15 July, St Mary’s Stadium will be hosting an event from 12 noon – 2pm.

For more information, contactmoth@soton.ac.uk.