With this third lockdown easing after what has felt like an incredibly tough and challenging start to the year for so many - and following a rollercoaster year for all of us - how are social enterprises planning for their post-lockdown.
This gradual easing of lockdowns opens up more opportunities for people to socialise with friends and family, play sports, and for some, much-needed face-to-face activities, support and work as opposed to zoom calls and being almost entirely home-based.
As the rules around how we can socialise change, organisations across England must learn once again to adapt whilst following the guidelines and throughout the different stages of the roadmap.
Since the start of the pandemic social enterprises have risen to the challenge of keeping their organisations going whilst continuing to support marginalised communities and individuals by adapting their delivery methods.
To find out how social enteprises are planning for the easing and eventual end of this lockdown, we spoke to some of the those we work with:
Chris Fleet, the founder of Devon Clinic CIC and a Hypnotherapist: “With several restrictions, The Devon Clinic CIC was lucky enough to be operational throughout the last lockdown. The demand for therapy sessions soared once again, and the need for both face-to-face and virtual appointments became something we tackled head-on. Now that the lockdown has lifted and our shielded members are back, we can fully open up the doors and invite everyone in (within the guidelines, that is). One of our major aims is to transition away from being so heavily reliant on the virtual world and bring people back into the real world and our treatment rooms.
“Life after lockdown for us is about restoration. We are working hard to restore the clinic to how it was (-face-to-face). To return to therapists to our rooms, have our support groups back and, most importantly, help our community feel safe and supported regardless of their social standing.”
Adrian Richards, BF Adventure's Chief Executive said: “Via Ferrata Cornwall re-opened on 3rd April within Government roadmap restrictions around the coronavirus. As we run both formerly organised (with an instructor) outdoor sporting activities and organised outdoor childcare, we were able to open from Easter onwards and have been greatly enjoying helping others get back to nature and to say goodbye to lockdown blues by scaling cliff faces, flying through the air on our zip wire, leaping into our stunning water filled quarries and more!
“All our outdoor activities can easily be done social distanced and as well as being certified as AA Covid Confident, we've acquired the Industry Standard mark, 'We're Good to Go!'. We're looking forward to continuing to help families and friends to have fun and create amazing memories and our current priorities are finishing off the adventure trails and wild play areas for children aged 3+.
“On 12 April our cafe switched from offering solely takeaways to welcoming people to enjoy our outdoor seating overlooking beautiful views of the quarry and part of the Via Ferrata course! Finally, we look forward to running more Adventure Holiday Clubs during the school holidays - children get to try new outdoor activities and build confidence, whilst parents get to have a break after all the homeschooling and make use of our wraparound care options, a win-win!”
Mark Hodgson, Managing Director of Co Cars: “The last year has put a giant spotlight on how we move. The restrictions on how far we can travel have allowed all of us to experience car free streets and clean air. Driven by health concerns, we’ve also seen a massive increase in active travel alongside a decrease in public transport use.
“At the same time, there’s been an acceleration in our collective journey towards zero carbon, both at a Government level (for example, the 2030 ban on new petrol or diesel car sales) and at a community level, with the widespread adoption of local climate action plans.
“As lockdown restrictions are eased, people are more aware than ever of the impact their transport choices have on their health and the wider environment.
“At Co Cars, this awareness coincides with a significant expansion of both our electric car fleet and our e-bike network, alongside developing products and services to support businesses transitioning to a new way of working whilst also helping them meet their zero carbon targets.
“All in all, we are optimistic about the road ahead and look forward to playing our part in introducing even more people to the benefits of sustainable, shared mobility.”
Peter Guest, Executive Director: “At BH Support, we have not only built a great community resource for the residents of Bournemouth to access on the high street but have also developed an online platform for the community to get the support needed during all stages of COVID-19. Our priority was to always ensure our staff were safe but also that the community could still access our service remotely so they were not left on their own to face some of the issues that they are going through in their lives.
We developed an online LIVE CHAT service which proved very popular with families especially as they could get guidance and support straight away through our team. Our telephone systems were being diverted so again someone would always be on the end of a phone to take new enquiries so we could still do the work in the background via zoom, email and telephone.
Our full team are now back in the office so we have had to ensure everything was in place for a safe return. We will continue to work in the virtual world at the moment as most of the courts are still only having zoom hearings so we think it’s going to take a few months for things to get back to some normality with everything. We also would like to ensure people have had access to a vaccine so again it will reduce any infection in our offices.
We can say that life has been difficult for everyone however some of the families we work with in particular have not only had lockdown and financial issues to deal with but in some cases, they have had to live together when they would usually be looking to separate so have faced some difficult challenges on top both physically and mentally.
And last but not means least, we have now expanded and have created SO Support to help engage and support with families in the Eastleigh/Southampton area. We are in the process of timing up a new office facility for the community to access from July 2021 so watch this space.”
Bristol Music Trust (Bristol Beacon)
Clare Jack, Chief Operating Officer of Bristol Beacon: “Over the past twelve months we've adapted to bring as much of our in-person activity online as possible and continue to present live music via digital events. We've learnt that digital events can also make accessing live music and activities easier and, for some people, allow them to attend an event where they wouldn't be able to do so before. We will continue to provide an online programme post-lockdown to continue this increased access to music. Our other focus post-lockdown will be to encourage audiences back to events safely. We'll be putting on socially distanced events in May and June at Bristol Beacon and across the city and working to ensure these events are as safe and enjoyable as possible.”
Chair of Par Track, Colin Harker: “While we are confident that we are managing the COVID-19 protocols for social distancing and cleaning, and making our facilities safe and easy to use, we really don't know what demand is going to be going forward. There is a lot of pent-up demand for socialising, and exercise, and much of what - we at Par Track - offer our community. But there is also still a lot of reticence, and some people have really suffered over the past year, and are in a worse position, in terms of health, confidence, or financially, than before COVID-19. It's hard to say what, on balance, the 'return to normal' looks like. So, planning feels crucial, yet almost impossible, and we have to be ready to really welcome people back, and ready to respond to the possibility that demand will be slow to resume.”
Chantal Enders, NCIM's Business Development and Operations Manager: “As NCIM enters its next phase of life after lockdown, we will certainly be keeping in place some of the valuable lessons we have learnt during the pandemic. We will continue offering both online and face-to-face consultations to our clients, who have really appreciated being able to stay in touch virtually with our team during these challenging times.
“We have just launched our NCIM Wellbeing Hub which is helping us fundraise into our NCIM Low-cost Appointment Access Fund and is packed full of Top Tips on Health and Wellbeing put together by our Clinical Team, as well as allowing continued free access to our monthly Holistic Doctor Webinars.
“Our Education services will also remain online and we have been delighted to engage with students across the globe from Australia, to Africa, to Brazil, to Canada, to Poland and Switzerland - to name but a few. Offering online training has also meant we have been able to invite International speakers to our Integrative Healthcare Forums and it has been fantastic to connect with colleagues in the United States. Our Food for Wellbeing courses, which include free courses looking at Food for a Healthy Heart and Food for Mood, are about to relaunch and have been tailored to the needs of each community, with some face-to-face and some online blended learning. With the support of Resonance and the SESF Fund we have been able to continue growing our team and we are excited about what the future holds for NCIM!”
Anne Maledine, Co-Founder and Director of Raised in Bristol: “Because the early years sector has been open as usual all through lockdown and the Raised in Bristol team has doubled in size during the past year - what we’ve really missed is being able to meet up for social events and get to know each other. So the priority all through this summer, is to make up for lost time with lots of coffee mornings for families and thank you celebrations for the team and our community cheer leaders.“
Sharon Gayle-Kappel, Development Manager: “The rest of the country have been on another lockdown with non-essential businesses reopening on the 12th of April. But throughout the lockdown Wildgoose Rural Training has tried to stay open when and wherever it could. Why? Because many of our students need a sense of routine and without it their anxiety may increase, making parents and carers role even more challenging than before.
“We had to be selective, to ensure that students who did attend through the pandemic could understand the importance of social distancing and hygiene, allowing us all to stay as safe as possible and work within government guidelines.
“As we come out of another lockdown, we have experienced a large surge in enquires. People want to be outside amongst nature planting, feeding the animals and helping to manage the nature reserve. So, our aim looking forward will be to welcome the rest of our students back and continue fundraising to build the visitors centre and the additional covered space needed to accommodate our ever-growing student numbers.”
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