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Maintaining client community in a virtual world

Life as we knew it took an unprecedented turn in March, resulting in unfamiliar challenges surrounding almost every aspect of our daily lives.

One of the most significant struggles was staying socially connected with face-to-face contact essentially cancelled for the last nine months.

Maintaining community engagement has been one of our principal objectives during this period, not the easiest of tasks at this stressful time.

We switched our client community events online and created a virtual live events programme, with a timetable that offered something for everyone, be it Pilates or power yoga, barre fitness or boxing, live cookalong sessions or low impact circuit training. The programme proved to be extremely popular with clients, helping to structure their days and keeping them motivated.

In addition to this programme we’ve run a number of virtual events such as our inaugural baking challenge which invited clients to send in a photo of their bake, themed in some way to thank the NHS. For every entry, we donated £10.00 to the amazing Corona Care Challenge, with a total of £300.00 raised for this incredible cause.

Keeping with the baking theme, we asked the community to send in their favourite lockdown recipes and created an E-Cookbook featuring a selection of easy and delicious dishes to share with everyone.

Competitions have also played a big part in maintaining engagement. From egg painting at Easter to our burger and pizza challenges, everyone enjoyed joining in with the fun and winning prizes which ranged from Amazon vouchers to Patty & Bun and Pizza Pilgrims DIY lockdown kits.

In July we were excited to enter a team in the Standard Chartered Virtual Great City Race. We assisted clients with a 5K in 6 weeks programme and invited them to run 5K from home or wherever they were! This was a great opportunity for our clients to keep active and fit whilst training, greatly benefitting both their physical and mental health.

Our pets probably gained the most from lockdown and in turn they provided us with untold mental and physical health benefits with loyalty that knows no limits. We decided to celebrate our furry friends with a pet paw-trait competition which was fur-nominally popular, with the winning image of Delilah made in to a jigsaw puzzle for her owner.

National Teddy Bear Day, in September saw another opportunity to engage clients with a fundraising element thrown in. We challenged clients to send us images of their favourite teddies and in return we donated £10 per teddy to Rays of Children’s Charity, raising £250 in the process.

We also supported Rays of Sunshine in October/November with our virtual fitness challenge which saw a team of client volunteers virtually journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Other events have included the Macmillan Coffee Morning, a pumpkin carving challenge, the best loaded sarnie challenge and the great bake-off with Blondies Kitchen.

The COVID-19 situation has clearly created many business challenges for everyone, but we’re looking forward to coming out the other side and at some point in 2021 being able to recommence in-person events. In the meantime, clients are currently enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways. Today’s winner received a £25 Amazon voucher.

By Michelle Winton
Community & Events Manager

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