In July as the country started to ease out of lockdown the Community Development team at the Linskill and North Tyneside Community Development Trust launched the Active Summer Challenge, to encourage people from North Tyneside to connect in a common purpose by getting active and have some fun in the process. Over six weeks members of the engAGE (55+) and Encompass programmes at the Linskill and Battle Hill centres were invited, along with the wider community, to join the Linskill team and get active. Logging all activities, the team challenge was to virtually cover ‘Lejog’, essentially from Land’s End to John O’Groats (1,198 miles), via a range of activities including walking, cycling, swimming, running, skating and many more.
Fundamental to the challenge was that it did not matter how far you walked, or how often you cycled, it was all about being involved and being part of a collective effort. The initial target was smashed during the first week with over seventy people registering for the challenge, leaving the team amazed and searching for another challenge. The North Sea Coast was set as the next team challenge along with mini weekly competitions to recognise achievements and motivate others to participate. Lucy Fenwick engAGE Project Officer at Battle Hill commented, “It was hugely rewarding to watch members of our community, all of whom are facing different challenges through this pandemic, be enthused and harness their energy into getting active. One of members walked every day, first thing in the morning to avoid the heat and accumulated over 111 miles. Another participant suddenly faced with working from home took to their exercise bike to keep active. Other members with active lifestyles simply decided they wanted to support the challenge and be part of their local community. The challenge has been a great success in bringing people together, getting more people active and improving well-being, we will be repeating it again next year.”
At the end of the Active Summer Challenge 7,499 miles were recorded, 849 logged activities and 47 regular participants succeeded in covering the original Lejog, the North Sea Cycle Route and back down and up the UK again. Personal achievements were recognised throughout the challenge with certificates and knitted novelty prizes from Linskill’s Woollies craft group, new friendships evolved and more importantly commitments were made to staying active.
The engAGE (55+) and Encompass programmes at the Linskill Centre and Battle-Hill provide a range of activities and groups to learn, develop and socialise. In the current climate many activities are virtual enabling people to access and as restrictions lift many groups are now returning to the Covid-safe centres. To find out more about engAGE or Encompass visit www.linskill.org or call 0191 257 8000.
Simeon Ripley, the Trust’s Chief Executive commented, “Like many organisations and charities the pandemic has brought very challenging times and we are having to adapt our services and activities in line with government guidelines. Community development is pivotal to the work of the Trust and with all the good work achieved over the years, reducing social isolation and improving well-being within our community, it was vital we maintained activity programmes. Linskill’s Active Summer Challenge has surpassed expectations and provided some lighter moments during the summer months. As a Trust it has helped to generate a feeling of common purpose and belonging, as people have become part of the community in a way they feel comfortable doing.”