FOR sports organisations across the country, Coronavirus guidelines have had a significant effect with many like Warrington Wolves Foundation delivering through digital platforms.
Many organisations have had to provide delivery online, unexpectedly accelerating a digital transformation of the sector.Delivering programmes through digital platforms instead of the traditional in-person method has been a challenging task and the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation are no different.
Neil Kelly, Director of the Foundation, explained: “The impact and sustainability of some of our programmes has been significantly affected.
“Our digital response has been good but it can never replicate the whole experience of face-to-face interaction.”
Through Sport England’s Tackling Equalities Fund, Active Cheshire’s Amber Lomax has supported the Foundation’s application to transform their work digitally and raise awareness of the 5 ways to well-being.
“Whilst for some the digital world has acted as a barrier, for others the digital approach has removed barriers and been a lifeline during a period of social isolation. I also praise Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation for finding ways through partnership working to break down barriers around access to technology for participants.” says Amber.
“For some people it removed barriers because they felt more comfortable in an interactive, online session than they would going to a physical group session, meeting with other people and supported their self-confidence.”
The approach to utilise the 5 ways to well-being campaign and translate the Foundation’s great work to fit has helped to alleviate and support some of the challenges faced by many in these challenging times.
There are some groups – by no fault of their own – that are simply unable to engage with online sessions due to difficulties in accessing technology or Wi-Fi in a Covid-safe place, particularly young, vulnerable families and the socially isolated.
Providing accessible help and support to these individuals and families in the pandemic has been one of the biggest challenges the Wolves Foundation has faced.
With the help of Raspberry Pi Foundation, the Wolves worked with the Torus Foundation to identify families who desperately needed this support. Over 100 computer devices were distributed.
When restrictions eased and schools returned, the Foundation transitioned to a blended model of delivery, combining their digital resources with some traditional face-to-face sessions.
This combined model of delivery ensured a level of continuity could remain within the Wolves work should further restrictions be imposed.
As Neil explains, “The Foundation applied to Sport England’s Tackling Equalities Fund receiving funding to support the design and creation of a range of digital content for a new “Join the Squad” online platform”.
“That bank of content is a really good example of how we’ve adapted and become more resilient as an organisation to the challenges posed by the pandemic. Funding allowed us to bring staff back from Furlough and it’s extended our reach because you now don’t have to physically be present to benefit from our programmes.”
Neil now believes there will be increased emphasis on digital output and this is something the Foundation will continue to utilise.
“Moving forward and looking ahead post-pandemic, “Join the Squad “is something we’ll stick with and utilise as a wider-reaching engagement tool for everyone to access,” he says.
“One digital initiative which has proved to be particularly successful is ‘WOLFPACK’, a programme of rugby-themed, play activities which parents can access to help their children play at home.
“Let’s face it, when lots of children are at home with mum and dad it’s very difficult and these are fun and very accessible.”
“We produced a load of digital resources which are free to access on our “Join the Squad” web app. Each session is rewarded and hopefully motivates the individual or family to do more.
The “Join the Squad” web App demonstrates, being creative and taking notice is important. The aim is that all involved will become more aware of their own well-being and support positive physical and mental health.
Amber closed by saying, “Warrington Wolves Foundation has certainly recognised, with their resourceful and innovative digital response, that they can continue to make a difference in their community”.
“By overcoming this adversity, the Foundation can remain resolute in their over-arching aim of supporting a healthier, happier and more resilient Warrington. So, come on “Join the Squad!”