With the Olympics domineering the TV, social media and the papers at the moment it is good to see the positive effect it is having upon individuals – I note gym attendance is up and local sports providers are reporting a record number of new members. What a fantastic thing to see! I reported on a community project last week which Village Games had organised a huge gathering with sporting taster sessions and am pleased to see further initiatives taking place. Community projects are often overlooked as they are deemed not significantly “flashy” enough for the project management world however I beg to differ as these projects often have significant outcomes and benefits are clearly recognised within the community – however the national press does not cover them as the stories are not deemed big enough. This is a shame as there is a lot to be learnt from such initiatives and presenting them to a wider audience may inspire others to take the lead and tackle a growing rise in individuals with nothing else to do. Also think about the demise of the high street – communities ripped apart by large chain stores taking residence in small towns making it impossible for independent traders to compete. Well the community doesn’t just lie in the retail area; I for one would love to see more community events which bring together locals working in a collaborative way to inspire and entertain others. Sport is a great way to get involved – I know form the work the Village Games do that everyone can get involved from very young to those in their senior years and of course those with disabilities. By creating a buzz in your area you can start to form new friendships and really feel a part of your community – which will have a knock on effect for those taking pride and assisting others to achieve their goals. Often we are not aware of issues in our community until it is too late and our facilities have closed down, taking an active inclusive approach to joining in and understanding our neighbours / local business people etc more we can help put a stop to the drop in social behaviour and issues which affect us all at some point. Actively engaging community support officers and making them aware of issues can really make a difference.
Do you know of any community projects which deserve some recognition? Let us know, we can help raise their profile and put you in touch with others who work in the field who may be able to assist you with funding and ideas to get you started.
I was fortunate enough to be invited along to a community project celebrating the opening of the Olympics on Friday 27th July at Carsington Water in Derbyshire by one of their project managers Emma Beswick; Emma alongside her colleague Katy Stubbs organised the event aimed at reaching out to the local community with taster sessions in a variety of sports. Over 600 people registered but it is thought that over 1000 people attended the event and were treated to all sorts of sporting activities which were open to young and old to join in; such as archery, fun run, golf, football and cycling to name a few being provided by local businesses.
On discussing the project with Emma Beswick, Sports Development Officer for the High Peak – she explained that planning the event was fairly complex and the real challenge was to ensure numbers attending on the day were at a high level and health and safety was adhered to stringently. The Village Games team have sports officers in each borough who are responsible for bringing sport to the forefront in their geographical locations (60 villages) – aimed at getting locals involved in fitness based activities. Funded by a number of organisations the initiative runs until 2013 – due to its continued success the team are hoping to secure future funding to keep running beyond 2013.
On arriving at the make shift arena I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism of the organisers and event; with each taster area clearly marked out and queues of enthusiastic contenders awaiting their turn. The event really did cater for all tastes and included face painting and arts and craft areas to add further fun to the occasion. There were bouncy castles and sumo suits for the children to go into competition in the ring which was great fun both for those competing and those watching. Medals were awarded for many events and it was quite clear that the majority of those in attendance had set aside the day to sit in the sun and join in the activities.
Community projects such as these are a fantastic initiative and really bring home the need for future events and further funding – encouraging families to spend quality time together and encouraging sports; making sports fun and accessible to all. Clearly the project managers for such events have a good knowledge in sports but also a strong awareness of structured project delivery – realising benefits from the outset and complex planning being key to their success. 7
For further information on Village games you can visit their website here and feel free to contact Emma Beswick on 07909 443 043 firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on executing such projects. You can also follow Emma and her community project work on twitter: @villagegames_hp