‘Out There!’ is a service provided by Outreach 3Way, part of the Dimensions group, in Sussex. In normal times they provide sports and leisure support for people aged 16 and over who have a learning disability and/or autism but, since the lockdown began they have been enabling people to play sports at home as well as creating a new and innovative virtual service.
With sports clubs and activities cancelled due to lockdown restrictions, many people were missing their weekly sessions. To help, ‘Out There!’ have been loaning out sports equipment for people to use in their homes, which has proved very popular. People could choose from sports equipment for badminton, tennis, cricket, football, Boccia and boules.
The team also put together a range of virtual activities and challenges including cooking lessons on Facebook, photography, gardening, coffee mornings, live DJ sets and bingo.
One of the first challenges was a photography one, encouraging people to try a new hobby. The people we support used their mobile phones or cameras to capture things that interested them.
In another challenge, an online version of Out There’s Got Talent has seen entries including dance routines, singing, artwork, DJ music sets and impressions. Each day the team posted one entry onto their social media, which in turn inspires others to participate. There has been wonderful encouragement from support colleagues and family members.
As if all of this is not enough, the team took part, and encouraged the people they support in a nationwide fundraising challenge to raise money for charities who would otherwise miss out from the cancellation of the London Marathon. The challenge was based around the numbers 2 and 6 and people came up with a variety of ideas to raise money for Outreach 3Way – from riding an exercise bike for 2.6 minutes or 2.6 km, to trying 26 different exercises and using a rowing machine for 26 km. They raised over £1,250.
Most recently the team have launched the Out There! 2020 virtual Summer Olympics event. Each week they are doing a virtual competition, starting with the egg and spoon obstacle course. The team have produced a video with more information about the summer Olympics
Alison Warner, from the Out There! team explains, “Transforming the Out There! service almost overnight from community based to a virtual one has been an exciting challenge. The team have worked so hard, and been creative to provide meaningful activities, competitions and virtual events for the people we support.
“I miss seeing people out in the community and hope it won’t be too long before I can meet up with the people we support and our volunteers in person.” she adds
It’s great to see how the Out There! team has been creatively adapting to these strange times, displaying the same resourcefulness and dedication which characterise our teams across the country.