Culturally Diverse Communities
Medway Diversity Forum is a charitable organisation that promotes social inclusion by working with people in Medway and the surrounding areas, who are socially excluded on the grounds of being members of minority ethnic communities.
For the first time Medway Diversity Forum were able to deliver a series of sporting activities to a large range of ethnically diverse communities, many of which are from lower socio-economic groups, whose first language is not English. Working with a number of partners including Kings Rochester Sports Centre, Gillingham Badminton Association and Community members groups the group ran the following activities:
- Online Yoga, Chi King and Tai Chi
- Therapeutic dancing
- Intergenerational football
- Ladies only badminton
- Karate classes for children and young people and elderly ladies
Due to the variety, accessibility and affordability of the activities offered to suit every age, group and gender, participants felt they could change their sedentary behaviour and address the negative effects this was having on their health.
- 38% of participants engaged in new and regular activity, especially Muslim and elderly Chinese ladies who found mainstream activities unaffordable, culturally unsuited and language barriers.
- Medway Diversity Forum recruited three ethnically diverse health and digital champions from the participants acting as role models for current and future recruits.
- Activities improved the mood, mobility and general wellbeing of participants.
- Participants developed friendships, learnt about different cultures and supported one another in times of need.
- Participants were co-creators of the project and were consulted on the planning and delivery, making them feel valued and listened too.
- Member organisations were given funding to run the activities themselves, this allowed the fund to reach more people in a short time frame whilst enabling these groups to develop organisational, budgeting skills and resilience.
“The sessions are helping to improve my balance, strength, and flexibility. The social interaction with other students is uplifting and they have given me the confidence to pick up the threads of my pre-accident life and encouraged me to develop a daily exercise regime. The classes leave me feeling refreshed and calmly energised”. Tai Chi Participant
“I was feeling very isolated during the lockdown and Medway Diversity Forum has made it possible to undertake activities which have helped me mentally and physically. My back pain is a lot less now, and I hope we can continue this long term”. Dance Participant
“We are very thankful to Active Kent & Medway and Medway Diversity Forum for allowing us to come together as families to play football in this challenging time. It is truly intergenerational with people from ages 8- 60 playing together from different ethnicities”. Football Participant
Whilst there were many successes there were a number of challenges the group came across and overcame:
- Initially Yoga and Tai Chi tutors were not digitally savvy to carry out lessons online. Medway Diversity Forum provided training, so the tutors were more confident to deliver.
- Cost of equipment was proving to be a barrier to participants. The forum used the grant to subsidise these costs enabling participants to continue to use the equipment.
- Transport became a barrier for some women, carpools were arranged so all participants could access the badminton sessions.
1. Be Flexible – With changing government guidance, be prepared to adapt your offer and think outside the box.
2. Involve the participants – To maintain their levels of commitment involve your participants in the planning, delivery and evaluation of the project.
3. Keep Communicating – Maintain a constant flow of communication with beneficiaries to find out what is working and what needs improving.
4. Give Ownership – Allow grassroot community clubs to run activities with their target groups, this enabled the forum to reach a wider audience and deliver a more personalised and bespoke service.
Medway Diversity Forum is part of a Physical Activity Alliance and Public health Weight Network so staff and newly recruited health champions will use these networks to promote local projects and help ethnically diverse communities to access them.