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Hitch your wagon to a star: enhancing and promoting activities

Traditionally Innovate Trust’s Skills and Wellbeing projects have linked with awareness events such as the Great British Beach Clean (Marine Conservation Society) and Mental Health Awareness week (Mind). These dates are established in the calendar, advertised well in advance and they suited our activity planning lead time of 6-8 weeks. As well as designing the sessions, our activity preparation time included booking rooms, preparing flyers and sending out packs of flyers and timetables to participants.

New methods of delivering activities during the pandemic has enabled us to explore more varied ways of engaging with people. We realised that while online delivery means that good activities still take time to prepare properly, we can now adjust content & presentations right up until the moment of delivery. This means we can be relevant to the day’s happenings and to news our participants may just have heard about. Equally useful is that we can make use of those campaigns and events to publicise Take Charge.

For example, we had organised an activity relating to employment, to encourage awareness of the work being done throughout the pandemic by local people with a learning disability. Two days beforehand we were reminded that it was also Mencap’s Learning Disability Work Week. We were able to publicise our activity using quote tweets of Mencap’s campaign, on top of our usual activity promotions. This benefitted both parties with minimal extra work.

How do we find out about upcoming events and campaigns? Methods used include:

  • Professional knowledge of organisations and issues;
  • News and current affairs (Breakfast TV provides a good overview for the day ahead);
  • Google and other search engines;
  • Social media. We use Instagram and Twitter, but we find Twitter to be the best source for national and local campaigns and events

We also value hitching our wagon to less obvious events. One of our project’s cross-cutting themes is equal opportunities. An activity exploring religious persecution and harassment, what laws are there to protect peoples’ religious beliefs, and how this makes for healthier communities, was linked to… Bonfire Night! We exploited the fact that the gunpowder plot was due to the persecution of Catholics by the protestant government, so by the end of the activity people had learned some history, found out which laws protect religious beliefs, and also discussed the role of religious understanding in wellbeing and community.

Keep an eye out for similar repurposing of celebrations later in the project!

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