Skipping ropes have been given to local schools

Skipping plastic waste

Innovative hubs are helping the environment and local communities

Community sport hubs across North Highland are making cleaning up local beaches a priority, and they’ve turned the plastic waste plaguing those beaches into something useful for local communities.

Litter picks on the beaches were part of the hubs' 2020 Feel Good Festival. The project has now started producing new skipping ropes made from the repurposed plastic waste.

The first batch of ropes have been taken to schools and nurseries and will serve local seniors and dementia groups to inform people about the project and get them involved in skipping. 

Katie Matthews, High Life Highland community sport hub officer who works across six community sport hubs (CSH), namely Ullapool, Skye and Lochalsh, Thurso, Wick, Dingwall and Tain, said of the project: “The Feel Good Festival and Ullapool Community Sport Hub has continued to support and develop the Ocean Plastic Skipping Rope project, with the recycled Ocean Plastic from litter picks in 2020 being repurposed into free skipping ropes for schools and community events in 2021, and with more eventually available to be sold to fund the project.

“The project has also linked up with related events for local seniors and dementia groups, sharing memories and experiences of childhood skipping and inspiring art work.

"Some of the songs remembered by participants at the Serve our Seniors groups were played to the school children we visited for skipping events over the winter months as part of the festival.

“By integrating a circular economy approach into everyday sport and the organisation of events, sustainable choices can become easier for communities and clubs, making everyday activities easier and lower cost.”

With help from artist Julia Barton and the Green Hive Community Workshop in Nairn the Ocean Plastic Skipping Rope project is helping the Skye & Lochalsh CSH make connections with established litter picking groups in the area. The plastic collected through organised events will then be sorted, cleaned and turned into a limited number of recycled ocean plastic skipping ropes for some of the target groups who will be receiving the Wellbeing Activity Packs.

A quantity are also being produced to support Julia's exhibition of the Ocean Plastic Skipping Rope project alongside her other sustainable project work at Eden Court in Inverness later this year.

Lasting impact

The Feel Good Festival was originally held in November 2020 and was organised by the Ullapool community sport hub working group and local High Life Highland staff to promote physical activity, mental health and wellbeing during the winter months.

It saw 22 partners deliver 18 free, informal sessions ranging from mountain biking to mindfulness sessions, with a mix of virtual and outdoor activities. The impact was far reaching with a post event survey revealing the festival had impacted 1081 people in the area, in fact 100% of respondents said they felt that the festival had improved their mental health and wellbeing.

The annual event continues to thrive and is now an established part of the Ullapool event calendar. The festival continues to help residents in Ullapool and remote communities within a 60-mile radius along the North West coast of Scotland to find ways to support their mental health and wellbeing by staying active over the Winter months.

With over 900 engagements across online workshops, face to face events, and Winter Wellbeing packs going out to residents through partner organisations, the 2021 Ullapool Feel Good Festival has continued to evolve and adapt to community needs.

Tackling isolation

An important part of the 2020 Feel Good Festival was the distribution of Winter Wellbeing Packs to communities in and around Ullapool. The pandemic exacerbated the sense of isolation in rural areas, the hub wanted to reach out and provide information, tools and resources to help people stay active, look after their mental health and connect with nature during the winter.

Packs were tailored to recipients. Packs for schools included bird and salad seeds, outdoor activity chalks and scavenger hunts. While the packs for care home residents had armchair exercises, walking advice, pedometers and Spring bulbs for planting.

An initial plan of giving out 500 quickly turned into 777 as the project took off and demand increased.

The project has continued and 450 tailored packs were distributed to recipients through partners as part of the 2021 festival. Recipients included primary schools, nurseries, local food banks, medical practices, and care homes.

Following feedback from the previous year and engagement with partners prior to the festival packs contents included information and resources to help recipients connect with nature and stay active over the Winter.

Katie added: “It’s all about helping people to find ways to feel good and stay active during winter. The social aspect of the festival and its diverse events has been especially important to people who live in more rural areas and experience social isolation.

"We have an inclusive approach to designing and delivering festival events, this has allowed the festival to reach more people than ever, especially those who experiencing some of the biggest barriers to participating in physical activity and sport in rural Scotland.”

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