As more of us start returning to campus and facilities begin to reopen, Mel Clewlow, Director of Sport describes how Kent Sport team members have risen to the challenge, both during lockdown and preparing for the new academic year.
Work during lockdown
‘During lockdown and throughout the summer, our members have been very much at the forefront of our minds. We set up several initiatives to support fitness, mental health & wellbeing during some challenging times, including ‘Stay well at home Wednesdays’ led by Oli Prior, Head of Physical Activities, and offering a free trial of Les Mills on demand to our members. We also had staff contribute content such as Jenni Mullane’s dance sessions, Karen Drake’s virtual run, Gavin Connor with disco beats and Laeticia Pelacchi on workout routines.’
Kent Sport was also faced with issuing partial refunds to its members while facilities were closed for the five-month period. Susan Hickmott, Head of Business Development, led work on liaising with the University’s Information Services department to develop an online form for processing the requests, liaising with Payments Office to ensure they had all the information to process them, and working with Kent Union to ensure all students submitted in their applications. On lockdown, the Kent Sport team notified payroll immediately to pause the staff monthly deduction and advised public members of their membership options.
Vicky Annis, Head of Physiotherapy Clinic, provided free initial online physiotherapy consultations, in which over 100 people accessed and many of whom were kind enough to help raise money for NHS charities. These free consultations have now become a new offer and Vicky herself swam the English Channel to raise donations for NHS Charities Together.
Working alongside Occupational Health, Kent Sport’s fitness team also delivered a series of activities designed to “give the brain a break” and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
Christopher Monteiro-Sharratt, Head of Operations, led his team and worked relentlessly behind the scenes on getting Kent Sport facilities reopened according to Government and University’s guidelines. Liaising with the Safety, Health and Environment Unit and University’s Estates, the Kent Sport duty teams moved the cardio and fitness equipment spaces apart for social distancing, ensured our fresh air units were in great order, worked on a one-way system throughout Kent Sport facilities, and created a schedule to allow the cleaning team to do daily deep cleaning during the day.
The team also reprogrammed sessions to reduce capacities, which turned out to be a very labour-intensive task.
Advance re-introductions were organised for early August to ensure all staff were aware of the new processes and a walkthrough of the new layout of our facilities via the one-way system.
Kent Sport’s reopening also involved its marketing team, led by Susan Hickmott, communicating all the changes to the facilities, videos to showcase reopening policies and social distancing, and liaising with central communications on reopening.
In summary, Mel says: ‘The Kent Sport Team has worked hard on our reopening strategy, ensuring every consideration for a clean and safe operation has been taken into account. We opened our doors in mid-August and have implemented many new policies and procedures including a fully cashless operation and online booking system to manage our reduced capacity and shorter opening hours. Both new and returning members are being asked to visit our website to keep up to date with latest fitness and wellness timetables, our opening hours, availability and guidelines.
‘It was truly a team effort across the board, and we were delighted to be able to reopen as soon as possible and offer activities to our staff and students within safe measures.’