Sunday 14 Nov
Updated Sunday 14 Nov 09:30

World Diabetes Day: Łukasz Fabiański encourages Newham residents to keep on track with their healthy lifestyles


West Ham United goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański congratulated two Newham residents for completing the 150Club – a programme aimed at helping over 18’s at risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and/or type 2 diabetes.

David Carun and Anees Rafiq recently completed the free 12-week, tailored programme which saw them combine exercise with simple healthy eating habits in a bid to avoid type 2 diabetes.

Taking its name from the 150 minutes of exercise that people are recommended to do every week, the 150Club is available by self-referral or GP referral and is a partnership scheme between NHS Newham Clinical Commissioning Group, Newham Council and West Ham United Foundation.

Anees and David are two of nearly 900 completers of the scheme which launched in 2015 and has saved the NHS more than £1.4million to date. 

Explaining to the former Poland international how he got involved, Anees said: “I actually thought I was very active before I started [the 150Club], because I used to play a lot of five-a-side football. I went to have my 50-year-old health check-up [at the GP Surgery], had some readings taken and found out I was on track for type 2 diabetes, which I was originally quite surprised about because I thought I was healthy.” 

Fellow Newham resident, David, was similarly shocked when he found out he was on track to develop the condition, stating: “For me that pre-diabetes reading was a wake-up call, and when my GP then introduced me to the 150Club, I had an initial consultation about my lifestyle choices, what was going well and what could be improved. And that is when Layla [150Club Lifestyle Advisor] came into the picture, and everything has changed.”

David noted that increased inactivity had led him onto the programme, explaining: “Due to COVID-19, my entire lifestyle changed. I'm an architect and project manager, so if I were in a 9am to 6pm job I’d be going from my home to my workplace and coming back, so that would make me move.

“I would also be going to my work sites more often and that would make me go up and down steps and so on. And then with COVID everything changed, and I was spending probably 12 to 13 hours in front of my laptop because I was not leaving home, and the flexibility also meant that I was eating a lot more.”

Likewise, when the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began in March 2020, footballers across the country had to move their exercise regimes from the training ground to their homes to ensure they were match-ready when football returned.

Fabiański famously took to his back garden with his young son, Jan, for improvised training sessions which he posted on social media. The first team goalkeeper recalled: “I couldn’t go to the pitch, and I had to use my little garden and try to do a bit of goalkeeping and then to ask my son to help me out. So that was the trickiest part. The Club organised group training sessions via Zoom, so we all got to see each other and there was a fitness coach telling us what to do, and we all had to do it in front of the camera, so the manager saw us working out, so that was interesting.”

Throughout the pandemic, 150Club exercise activities moved online and with restrictions now loosening there’s a choice of either in person or online sessions, making the programme even more accessible. 

Łukasz, Anees and David acknowledged the importance of remaining motivated, and Anees recognised how pivotal that extra encouragement from the 150Club team had been in helping him transform his lifestyle.

He said: “I'm not going to lie by saying it was easy! I think this is where I'll be grateful forever to Layla and Evie [150Club Lifestyle Advisors]. There was nothing pushy whatsoever, you know, there's no military style regime, but that gentle ‘Come on Anees, you can do it’, that constant motivation I think is what I was lacking myself.”

Each participant in the 150Club receives support from a Lifestyle Advisor to help them complete the programme and prevent these life-changing diseases, as well as assisting them in continuing with their improved lifestyles thereafter.

Layla McNeilly is one of the Lifestyle Advisors involved and assisted David and Anees throughout their time on the scheme. Reflecting on their journey, she commented: “David and Anees are fantastic examples of what happens when you are consistent and committed to something like this. We're here to support but we can't do the work, so we can help motivate, but it takes that self-motivation too.

“I'm really proud and privileged to have been part of so many people’s journey through the 150Club and seeing the positive impact it’s had on their lives and subsequently the lives of their family and friends. Hopefully stories like Anees and David’s inspire others to be proactive and speak to their GP or self-refer onto the programme too.”

To find out more about the 150Club email [email protected] or self-refer here