Together an Active Pendle is one of seven nationwide health projects, funded by Sports England. In 2020, In-Situ began working as a lead arts organisation to support conversations with communities in Pendle about being active in everyday life.
Bringing together a diverse group of artists and practitioners, we created an approach to intercultural conversations which stretched our understanding and thinking of what as possible during the pandemic, of remote artist collaboration and in terms of communicating key messages across cultures and languages.
Through this process we learnt the value of our practice and that it is most socially useful in dialogue with another sector.
When we were approached by Pendle Leisure Trust to join in the national Together an Active Future project created by Sports England, it couldn’t have come at a busier time! In the midst of many other projects, we jumped almost against our better judgement at the chance to be able to apply our learning about community engagement in the area whilst also wondering how we could meet the task so quickly when as a team we felt so under-resourced.
We pulled together a team of artists available flexibly and at short notice who was willing but not necessarily experienced at working as part of an uncertain process, and who had not worked together before, and set about the task: To create a communications campaign around active lifestyles that would reach South Asian diaspora communities in Nelson and encourage participation in the research stage of a massive project whose aim was to lower heart disease and diabetes in Nelson.
Working alongside Chris Rigby from Pendle Leisure Trust and Adam Pearson, a statistician, our group of artists and community practitioners set about the task without a road map but knowing that throughout interdisciplinary collaboration we would develop and test new approaches that may or may not be effective and that we may or may not be able to sustain.
The ethos of the project was to generate ideas and solutions in a bottom-up way, with communities coming up with multiple solutions themselves. Rather than collect data by an online survey, our approach was to hold deeper conversations with people out and about that was meaningful and beneficial to them as well as providing the project with the insights we were seeking in this initial stage.
After a few initial meetings in person, COVID-19 lockdown hit, and our collaboration was forced online, and face to face work with communities looked like it may be unfeasible.
A clear picture emerged around COVID-19 rates amongst the same community. The work that we had begun doing seemed to take a whole new level of relevance - it really brought home the inequalities faced.
The Together an Active Pendle is a community-wide project working with residents to understand the way they connect with physical activity.
The project is part of the Pennine-wide Together an Active Future Local Delivery Pilot funded by Sport England. Pennine Lancashire is one of 12 local delivery pilots from across the country working together to support and enable more people to move more and get active.
It has the support of Sport England, Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS, Pendle Health and Well-being Board, Pendle Leisure Trust, Pendle Borough Council, Pendle East and West Primary Care Network and several other local charities and groups.
What we did
Created an online campaign that would appeal to white and diaspora communities, exploring grounds for a common aesthetic that was rooted in familiar places.
We went out and about in Nelson town centre, holding socially distanced face to face conversations, gathering audio interviews and collecting anecdotal data in addition to completing surveys
Created a local COVID-19 messaging campaign promoting STAY HOME, WEAR A MASK….
Worked with the project team to explore and understand approaches to working in a 'grassroots' way.
Held Digital Talking Society events including a Walkaoke - participants walked for 20 mins away from home and tuned into a live online conversation developed by In-Situ associates The People Speak