During the most recent grant year, we asked current project groups to share their insights from their first year of activities, offering key tips for success to other existing or potential projects, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic:
- Put extra funding in your budget for staff time, planning, and risk assessing walking or cycling routes; this takes a lot longer than you think.
- Accept that people need several reminders and support to participate – vulnerable participants often require a phone call, a letter, and a text or additional phone call on the day.
- Ensure you follow the guidance and read the monitoring requirements at the outset. When in doubt, communicate with WCGL – they are there to answer queries about how the project can continue and whether it still meets the aims, as well as help with any decisions.
- As well as English, consider using community languages to reach specific ethnic minority communities.
- Look into recruiting volunteers from local clubs. They can help encourage participants to join your project and it is a less intimidating way for participants to join when they are already familiar with the volunteers.
- Ensure you have a contingency plan in place. It is important to be flexible with your ideas and projects so that you are able to continue to meet the needs of your participants, albeit in a slightly different way than was intended.
- Keep up to date with the ever-changing government restrictions and re-evaluate how this may affect your project delivery.
- Use online meetings to attract volunteers and participants and don’t underestimate the potential of social media; use it to your advantage as this can boost outreach during the timeline of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Walk or cycling your routes in advance to find suitable rest spots for breaks (and to find out what public toilets are open!)
- Use the TfL website. It’s a great resource, especially the walks section - the route descriptions and maps there are excellent and free.
- Purchase good, long lasting bikes. Beginners often fall when learning to ride bikes and these can easily get damaged. If you are buying second-hand, spend a little extra and buy quality bikes. It will save you money in the long run.
- When planning routes, be sure that they are of a suitable distance for the target group you are trying to engage with. This could be helped by asking for feedback after the first walk, as well as having a clear start and end point so that participants can plan travel to and from the locations.
- Get some information about walking or cycling logistics, for example being clear from the get go about the speed at which you will walk or cycling or what fitness levels you intend to cater for, as some participants struggle to walk/cycle quickly, but others want to.
- Ensure that you have sufficient numbers of volunteers and walking/cycling nstructors, as delivering led rides is vastly different to hosting inclusive walking/cycling sessions at a designated venue (managing traffic; less easy to observe beneficiaries all at once).