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Oxford Branch during COVID-19 lockdown

ALL OUR FACE-TO-FACE EVENTS are CANCELLED until further notice.

Many of the classes mentioned on this page are currently taking place online. Others have had to be suspended until we are able to meet again face-to-face. Please contact the organizers for specific details in each case.

Timetables of regular classes
Looking for the time or date of your next class? Follow this link to our classes timetable page for detailed schedules of exercise and other classes that are promoted, subsidised or recommended by Oxford Branch.
Exercise - both physical and mental - is good for everyone, including people with Parkinson's! Check out the classes and other opportunities we offer in collaboration with a wide range of providers such as Age UK and English National Ballet.

Opportunities for exercise, therapy and learning

Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

MoveMe - physio-led exercise classes

NEWMoveMe - physio-led exercise classes

Dance for Parkinson's (ballet class)

Dance for Parkinson's (ballet class)

Exercise and physiotherapy

Exercise and physiotherapy

Voice and singing classes

Voice and singing classes

Intensive physiotherapy in Italy

Intensive physiotherapy in Italy

Mindfulness for people with Parkinson's

NEW classes!Mindfulness for people with Parkinson's

Fighting Fit exercise programme

Exercise in Abingdon with live music

Exercise in Abingdon with live music

Exercise guidance from Parkinson's UK

Our national body Parkinson's UK has recently updated its guidelines on exercise for people with Parkinson's (PwP).

There's a clear and informative web page for PwP, with animations and a video.

You may also find it interesting to look at their 2-page framework document, which is aimed at health professionals but is easy to understand.

Dance for Parkinson’s

For many of our members, a highlight of the week is their participation in the Dance for Parkinson's classes supported by Oxford City Council and led by a team from English National Ballet.

The classes have featured on BBC national news. They also appear in the wonderful half-hour documentary Parkinson's: The Funny Side, devised and presented by Branch member Paul Mayhew-Archer, which is permanently available on BBC iPlayer at this link.

Dance for Parkinson’s classes in Oxford have been supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery. You can find more, and see a video featuring our members, on the PPL website at this link.

Two short videos (one minute each) created for English National Ballet and starring Oxford Branch members are available hereand here. There is also a 7-minute video describing the project in more depth.

If you are interested in joining the classes, please visit Oxford City Council's information page.

Exercise classes and physiotherapy

Research consistently shows that exercise helps to reduce Parkinson’s symptoms as well as increasing fitness and reducing your risk of falling. More recently, strong evidence has emerged that regular vigorous exercise (enough to get you slightly out of breath) has especially beneficial effects.

Always check with your GP, physiotherapist, Parkinson’s nurse or other qualified health care professional before embarking on a new exercise programme, especially if it involves vigorous or strenuous activity.

Subsidised local classes: Big, Bold and Balance

Big, Bold and Balance is a physiotherapy programme designed for people with Parkinson’s and delivered by Age UK’s Generation Games service. Weekly classes run at several venues around Oxfordshire. A subsidy from Oxford Branch means that we can offer these classes for a suggested donation of only £3 per session.

To confirm exact dates please check the Generation Games brochure, view our online calendar, or contact us.

In this 1-minute video, physiotherapist Jo Preston shares her enthusiasm for the Big Bold and Balance project and you can get an idea of what to expect.

CHANGE OF VENUE The Tuesday classes formerly held in Minster Lovell now take place at Bradwell Village Hall, Burford as shown in the table.

Town Time Venue
Abingdon Tuesday, 9.45am-10.45am Preston Road Community Centre, OX14 5NR (map)
Burford Tuesday, 11.30am-12.30pm Bradwell Village Hall, OX18 4XB (map)
Didcot Wednesday, 10.30am-11.30am All Saints Community Hall, OX11 7ER (map)
Banbury Thursday, 12pm-1pm Methodist Church Hall, OX16 5BZ (map)
Bicester Thursday, 1.30pm-2.30pm Kingsmere Community Centre, OX26 1EG (map)
Oxford Friday, 10.30am-11.30am
Followed by a voice class
at 12.00pm-1pm
Botley WI Hall, OX2 0LT (map)

Physiotherapy in Italy

Several of our members have attended the one-week intensive course at the European Parkinson Therapy Centre in northern Italy, with encouraging results. To find more you can visit the Centre's own website, and read the reports in our Autumn 2016 newsletter and Autumn 2018 newsletter by Branch members who have attended courses there.

The Branch can now offer grants for up to 20 people to attend, making it more affordable. This report, from two of our Committee members who did a course at the centre in 2015, includes details of how to apply for a grant using the application form which you can download here. Please feel free to discuss it with the Chair or Treasurer (details on our committee page) before making any arrangements.

Voice classes

We have a weekly voice class on Fridays from 12.00 to 13.00. About 80% of PwP have some sort of voice changes at some time and these classes offer exercises in a fun way to help keep our voices healthy. One member has reported that his voice had been somewhat hesitant and by coming to the classes this has stopped. Certainly it is valuable to join this and other classes to halt the onset of voice changes in addition to sharing time with others.

The classes are led by our charismatic teacher Kate Wilkinson.

For more details of these voice classes please contact the Chair, whose contact details are on our committee page.

You can find further information about speech and language therapy (SALT) on our support pages.

MoveMe: physio­therapist-led group exercise

These group exercise classes, promoted by our good friends at Parkinsons.Me, are based on the high-intensity PD Warrior ® commercial programme but are led by an NHS physio­therapist.

For more information about the programme and details of how to register, visit the MoveMe page on the Parkinsons.Me website.

Ewan Stutt, founder of Parkinsons.Me, writes:

I'm excited to share with you news about our latest project. Parkinsons.Me have joined forces with the NHS Trust and is hosting a physiotherapy based exercise class near Wantage. We've booked every first and third Thursday morning from 10 til noon throughout 2019. We've called the group MoveMe and classes will take place at the Loyd Lindsay Rooms in Ardington (OX12 8PS).

What is MoveMe? It's an exciting new group exercise programme for people with Parkinson's led by an Oxford Health NHS Trust Physiotherapist from the Physical Disability Physiotherapy Service (PDPS) based in Abingdon, in partnership with Parkinsons.Me. It is based on the principles of PD Warrior ®.

Jo Preston delivers the class, supported by a Physical Disability Physiotherapy Service colleague.

The Fighting Fit programme

A new not-for-profit organization called Fighting Fit has launched a residential weekend programme for younger and working-age people with Parkinson's. You can find all about it on their website.

Exercise to live music in Abingdon

A recent initiative in Abingdon is offering exercise classes tailored for people with Parkinson's, with the special attraction of live music thanks to a skilled pianist who accompanies every session. The classes take place at the Abbey Baptist Church, in the historic heart of Abingdon, on Wednesday afternoons in term-time.

Take a look at the poster (click here to view or download) for more details including contact information for the organizer Pat Bryden, who writes:

Before Christmas a small group of people with Parkinson's and friends joined together in central Abingdon to enjoy gentle exercise to music with a dance teacher and a pianist. These sessions were a great success so now we wish to enlarge our group and are inviting other people from the Oxford/Abingdon area to join us.

Mindfulness for People with Parkinson's

An Introduction to Mindfulness for Parkinson’s

Thanks to the efforts of mindfulness teacher Azizë Stirling and support from social enterprise Community Based Mindfulness CIC, Azizë is now able to offer a free introduction to mindfulness for people affected by Parkinson’s.

Details are available in the leaflet that you can view or download here. Alternatively you can contact Azizë directly by email:

NEWAzizë's report on the impact of her online classes
As described in our September 2021 meeting, Azizë has been running online mindfulness classes throughout lockdown with impressive results. You can read her detailed report, with extensive first-person evidence from participants, at this link on our website.

Mindfulness - a safe mooring during the Covid storm

Responses to the question How has a programme of mindfulness affected your ability to deal with life through lockdown? - read the article at this link.

More about mindfulness

Azizë writes:

Research is showing that stress is seen to have a significant role in neuro-degeneration and depression in Parkinson's disease. Some studies find that non-motor symptoms like depression, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, cognitive impairment, and apathy, can have a far greater impact on disease progression and health related quality of life than motor symptoms.

It can sometimes be hard to recognise the stress in our lives, as in today's world it is part of the air we breathe. Mindfulness can teach people how recognise stress. A programme in mindfulness can give us the time we need to step outside the lives we lead - time for just being. Time for learning new life skills and consolidating old ones. Time to develop a less reactive way of being, and to develop a kinder and wiser way of relating to what life throws at us. It starts from the premise that we all experience distress and discomfort and all have the capacity for joy and well-being, even in the midst of challenge and difficulty.

Further reading

Here is a link to an article written by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the person credited with starting the secular mindfulness movement, on the event of the All Party Parliamentary Committee's report Mindful Nation on the policy implications of mindfulness. You can find the original report here.