by Isabelle Terrisson from the Bangladeshi Community Action Project
The Bangladeshi Community Action project have an member advisory group that comes up with all their activities. The women wanted to go swimming and it has since become a very popular regular activity! The plan was to support the women to access the St Pancras Leisure Centre and enable them to attend a series of women-only sessions at the swimming pool. We also hoped to build their confidence to access the leisure centre by themselves.
We expected the participants to be enthusiastic as they chose this activity. We anticipated potential barriers around access and understanding how to use the facilities e.g. lockers, showers for those who hadn’t been to the swimming pool before, and we anticipated some people may feel intimidated by the premises.
The women were even more enthusiastic than expected. They built their knowledge of how to use the facilities quicker than expected. This is a steady group that doesn’t need a reminder telephone call to attend the sessions. They built their confidence quickly and decided to go directly to the leisure centre instead of meeting at Hopscotch to make their way there.
What we’ll do differently next time
Ensuring that informal feedback from the leisure centre is received regularly throughout the activity to ensure relevant support can be provided to the women. For example, some women didn’t have a suitable swimming costume.
What we learnt
It’s important for people to decide on the activities they want to be provided.
It’s essential for people to be supported throughout the activity including during the preparation stage. In this case that meant talking about and buying an appropriate swimming costume so that people felt supported and confident when they were doing the activity.
Being open minded as to what people might want to do and looking at ways of making some adjustments if needed to make it possible e.g. women-only swimming sessions.
When people feel supported, and are empowered to access an activity that they chose, they are likely to build confidence and want to carry on with the activity.