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Our story of 2021

This story discusses how 2021 played out for the team and shares what we’re all excited about for 2022!

What a year it’s been! We’ve had such a blast working together to lead change in the social care, health and sports sectors to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for Disabled people.

Now, as the year ends, we thought it would be good to get the whole Get Yourself Active team together. And take a step back, reflect on the year that has just gone, and share what we’re all excited about for next year!

So, we did just that. And you can find the thoughts of Anna Denham, Programme Manager, Lydia Bone, Programme Manager and Elliot Watson, Programme Officer, below.

How do you sum up 2021?

Anna: A journey! We started in lockdown, then had a fairly relaxed summer and – whilst restrictions are still at a minimum – Covid cases are rising, and it feels as though there is a lot of anxiety among people. There has been so much uncertainty this year too, and there still is.

Elliot: 2021 was a roller coaster of a year full of ups and downs. It was a challenging start to the year with being plunged straight into another lockdown, but this did not stop us from engaging with and supporting our partners. 2021 was a very successful year for us in the Together Fund. Over the last 12 months, we have funded 35 projects supporting over a 1,000 Disabled people to become more physically active.

Lydia: 2021 has been a challenging year, with much uncertainty as we went in and out of lockdowns. However, it was also an exciting year as we were able to work in a variety of different ways, and it didn’t stop us from delivering projects and working hard. The world of Zoom/Teams meetings has also enabled us to create some really positive new partnerships across the country, which has benefited our work.

What was the biggest lesson you learned?

Lydia: Working through a year of uncertainty showed us how we could adapt our work to reflect the reality of what Disabled people are facing. Our plans changed, but that was okay. We listened to what Disabled people needed at a difficult time – and set out to deliver projects that could help. We didn’t go into this phase of work planning to deliver funding or to create active at home videos, but we wanted to make sure our work reflected what was needed by our audience at that time. We’ve learnt so much from these new projects and met with so many new organisations we may not have otherwise had the chance to meet!

Anna: To be guided by organisations “on the ground”. They know the people they support, and if there is fear or anxiety, or genuine risks to people’s health and well-being, we have to accept that and work at their pace and comfort levels.

Elliot: Things don’t always go to plan no matter how solid a plan is. Sometimes things arise that are completely out of your control such as government restrictions. We had to learn to be adaptable to overcome such issues quickly in such situations.

If you could go back to the start of the year – what would you do differently?

Lydia: Not be so hard on ourselves to know the answers or to feel like we have to have a set plan during such uncertain times. Sometimes it works better to adapt and be flexible!

Elliot: Remind myself more often that it’s okay if things don’t always go to plan and try not to worry too much if they didn’t go accordingly.

Anna: Spend less time trying to work out when we’ll be out of lockdown and just take it as it comes.

What are you looking forward to in 2022?

Anna: Seeing people be happy again. Whether that’s going back to activities etc. that they participated in pre-pandemic, or keeping up new activities and habits that they formed during the pandemic. My hope is that we take forward some of the positives that have come out of this awful pandemic and that we don’t just revert to the old ways of doing things if they don’t work anyway. Let’s use it as a chance to reset some things, and move forwards in the right direction.

Elliot: I’m looking forward to continuing to support our current Tackling inequalities Fund partners to deliver their projects and am excited to read their end of project evaluation forms once their projects are complete.

Lydia: I’m looking forward to using our learning from the current phase of GYA to progress our projects and workstreams. We have big plans moving forward as a team, and I’m excited to work with colleagues and partners to do more to improve opportunities for Disabled people to be active.