Reflecting on Breaking Boundaries 2020 with Chandni Paul

 Breaking Boundaries is a three-year programme (2018 –2021) funded by Spirit of 2012, supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The Institute of Community Cohesion (Icoco).

We sat down with our Birmingham City Coordinator Chandni Paul to reflect on her experiences of Breaking Boundaries in 2020!

  1. How did your journey with Breaking Boundaries begin and what attracted you to get involved with this role?

I first came across Breaking Boundaries when I was working for the Edgbaston Foundation who, at the time, were the local delivery partner in Birmingham. At the Edgbaston Foundation we use cricket for social good, so I took a natural interest in Breaking Boundaries' use of the sport to inspire social connectedness within the diverse neighbourhoods around Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

  1. What have been your highlights for this year on the Breaking Boundaries programme?

My highlight for this year has been finding alternative ways to support our community organisations who were unable to deliver their Breaking Boundaries activations this summer due to lockdowns and tiered restrictions.

The COVID response in our area was made up of third-sector organisations combining their expertise and resources to support the community. We wanted to recognise the efforts of the community organisations and use our expertise to support them to maintain social connectedness amongst their beneficiaries in a time where lockdown and social distancing could have exacerbated feelings of isolation. Find out more in question 8.
 

  1. With the Covid-19 pandemic what kind of new challenges did you face in your role as part of the Breaking Boundaries programme?

Fostering social cohesion in a time where the nation was ordered to socially isolate. Breaking Boundaries works with community organisations to ensure sustained impact and a legacy after completion of the project. This became our biggest challenge because the pandemic effected the capacity of each organisation differently with much of their efforts and priorities shifting to immediate COVID response such as distributing food.

 

  1. What new innovative ways did you adopt to ensure social connectedness during the pandemic? 

We delivered two programmes to ensure social connectedness during the pandemic.

LBW: Ladies Bhangra Workout was a 12-week series of weekly bhangra fitness sessions delivered via Zoom. LBW provided a provision for women from different South Asian backgrounds to come together and keep fit from the safety of their own home when opportunities to be physically active were limited and sedentary habits could have set in.


Dynamic Duo was a befriending scheme which socially connected young people and care home residents in a time where social interaction, as we knew it, has been restricted. We resorted back to the old school approach of written communication to maintain wider social interaction between both groups.

  1. Which social media or digital campaign did you feel was the most impactful and successful during the Covid-19 pandemic?

My favourite social media campaign was the cricket-themed collaboration with our community organisation, Sport4Life, which consisted of a cricket set giveaway, cricket quiz and Insta-Live QnA. I was the first guest to feature on Sport4Life's Insta-live QnA service which aims to showcase the variety of career paths available to young people. Employability Trainer, Beth Gilmore and I discussed my journey to become Breaking Boundaries Community Coordinator and the value of volunteering.

What were your overall highlights for this year of project delivery for Breaking Boundaries?
Dynamic Duo - it was touching to see two different groups from different generations building friendships and providing each other comfort and companionship during a difficult time.

  1. What were the biggest challenges for you this year as a city coordinator for Breaking Boundaries?

The biggest challenging was continuously adapting our delivery method to the ever-changing circumstances.

  1. What were your biggest successes this year as city coordinator for Breaking Boundaries?

The biggest success was also how we adapted to the ever-changing circumstances and were able to provide activities that were responsive to challenges of the pandemic and supported the wellbeing of participants whilst maintaining social connectedness.

  1. How did you work to support your city in becoming more cohesive and socially connected this year?

We supported Unity Streets CIC with cricket activities at their 10,000 steps challenge which reconnected the communities in and around Balsall Heath this summer.

Smart Women CIC service users had access to our LBW Ladies Bhangra Workout and were donated a van full of toys and books from the Edgbaston Foundation's #Toys4Birmingham initiative.
We developed Dynamic Duo in response to an appetite from young volunteers at Sport4Life to take part in social action / COVID-19-response.

  1. If you were to summarise your experience of Breaking Boundaries this year in three words what would they be?

Challenging, collaborative, community-spirit.