At Active Withernsea, we were hugely delighted when Sport England got in touch to say their chief executive Tim Hollingsworth would like to pay us a visit.
If it were a traditional visit, we’d have been introducing Tim to the Withernsea community and the sights, sounds and tastes of our East Yorkshire coastal town – from the soothing sounds of the waves on the beach to the imposing, historic Withernsea Lighthouse that dominates the town’s skyline.
Coronavirus (Covid-19), however, meant the visit had to go virtual and our challenge was to bring the Active Withernsea journey to life on a 90-minute video call.
In true Active Withernsea style, we called in the help of our brilliant photographic ethnographer Les Monaghan to show us the real Withernsea, and creative artist Sarah Smizz to take us on a cartoon adventure.
The visit started with Tim parachuting into Withernsea, illustrating the sights and sounds that he would experience on his approach.
As his tour began we set the scene as to why we were chosen as one of the 12 national pilots – our coastal community, as well as the high levels of deprivation and health difficulties, and low levels of physical activity, made us a good candidate for trying something different.
Tim’s ‘journey’ explored the deep levels of engagement that had taken place in the community, to try and better understand people’s motivations and barriers to being active – including watching videos made by locals, to see what they had to say.
Our own engagement and facilitation development officer, Alex Camplin, shared her story of supporting the Withernsea community during coronavirus.
She and the team supported the community response hub, which served as an outlet to get direct help to those most vulnerable in the town – including helping people shielding due to coronavirus, to get access to food.
Door-to-door visits and check-ins kept the team very busy, but it was important to them that they knew their community was safe and well.
During the pandemic we’ve been conducting a listening exercise, which consisted of a series of phone interviews, Sensemaker surveys and face-to-face conversations.
So we took Tim’s visit as an opportunity for our research and intelligence analyst, Lauren Powell, to share what we’d heard – key findings showed the most vulnerable people in the community had been made more vulnerable and that people found it hard to ask for help.