power in joining forces – collaboration is powerful

On Thursday I attended the Together Fund celebration evening hosted by Northamptonshire Sports, due to illness I was asked if I could step in last minute to speak in place of another person. As I listened to Chris, then Matthew and other speakers before me I remembered that other life we all lived, that one before Covid! Do you remember it? Sometimes it’s like reading a book when I think back.

I was a mum, an archer, an enforcement officer. I was a regional safeguarding officer with a passion for my sport and the things I could see it achieve. I had taken that passion and the work I had already started in a number of areas to apply for and become an Ambassador for Archery GB, growing my projects and reaching wider and further than I had before.

I had linked with other like minded people and organisations from within and outside of my sport. I had started to get involved in some multisports meetings hosted by a couple of activity partnerships but particularly Northamptonshire Sports.

Then the news that we were facing a global pandemic, and lockdown was looming. The news that we all had to stay home and in bubbles.

The different areas of my life clashed, enforcing covid restrictions whilst trying to get people active. Working with the NGB to help, particularly when the initial guidelines prevented some individuals returning to our sport. Joining lots of multisports meetings to discuss our individual and joint issues, trying to find solutions. During one of these meetings I was listening to someone who is a good friend, who I actually consider family, as he described the issues in their sport – swimming and realised that I had a solution! But without Northamptonshire Sports we would never have had that conversation 🫣

Post covid I continued to work on my projects, building on the collaborations from before as well as new ones made during those many many online meetings.

For a variety of reasons, in 2022, I resigned as AGB Ambassador, created Integr8archery CIC and evaluated my work, reclaiming what was mine and stepping away from some things that I had put many valuable hours into but were not mine.

This allowed me to protect my work, the people involved and continue with only those who really wanted the best for those that I work with. Schools projects, disadvantaged youth, supoort groups, disability groups, archers wanting to return to the sport, archers whose health had changed and wanted support to face change to stay. Lots and lots of people from these and other groups/clubs I worked with.

I continued to attend meetings hosted by lots of groups/organisations from Sport England, Activity Partnerships, Children’s Coaching Collaborative, Belong. Sporting Equals ….. At the same time continuing to volunteer in other sports/activties as I recalled those conversations that we all need workforce to get and keep people active.

As a result I was often in the same place at the same time as Northamptonshire Sports and the amazing army of red shirts. I took a call about a local group wanting archery and the together fund being a possible source to help us provide sessions for them. So began the connection between Northamptonshire Sports, Integr8archery CIC and Wellingborough Muslim Community group.

Thursday night was a fantastic opportunity to see what we have all achieved across the county in the last 4-5 years, coming together, creating opportunities and collaborating to get and keep people active, from a wide range of areas within the community and such a vast range of activities.

Also a chance to discuss next steps, areas to improve our reach and possibilities as there are still so many to reach. I came away with a number of new contacts made and discussions started to reach new groups, and also some individuals who want putting in touch or introducing to clubs.

I am looking forward to what comes of this but also firmly stand by my believe that whilst we all focus on our sport I think we can achieve most by coming together with others to achieve more for those we want to reach.