Dear archery family, with us all waiting in anticipation for the next government update later this week, I thought it would be a good time to let you know what we have been doing behind the scenes over the last few weeks.
Firstly, I hope that you, your families and your friends are keeping safe and well during these uncertain times. For those of you who are working selflessly on the frontline in the NHS, or as a key worker keeping our country going, then we thank you for the amazing work you are doing. I hope you have had the chance to see some of the videos we’ve created on our social channels, which are a small token of our appreciation.
We have been using the time in lockdown to prepare our plans for what the return to archery may look like, once the government say it is safe to do so. Clearly there remains a large number of unknowns, so we are working on a number of different scenarios, which means our plans will have to remain flexible and fluid.
We are not working on these alone. We continue to receive incredible support from a number of volunteers within the sport, who have given up their time to join us in virtual meetings and help us create these important plans. We have also received feedback from more than 300 clubs through our club survey and have held detailed discussions with regions, counties and clubs. The Board are meeting regularly through virtual Board meetings and continue to work closely with the executive team. Thank you also for all the feedback we have received directly from members; we are listening and we are working with our partners and our archery stakeholder groups to provide the best possible guidance for returning safely to archery. Please keep the feedback coming – we know that returning to archery is going to take a united approach and we need to work together in the coming weeks and months.
Back to archery strategies
We are pulling together the information from all of our discussions to date, and are in the process of creating a number of different strategies for when the government restrictions are lifted. Much will depend on both the timing and the way that government lifts restrictions, but the key assumption we are working to is that social distancing, and increased hygiene measures, will be with us for a long time. We are encouraged that the World Health Organisation has archery listed as low risk. More information is due to be released by the Prime Minister this week.
I’d like to give you a brief overview of the types of strategies we are working on:
- Social distancing – How can we implement social distancing and increased hygiene measures across our club network? We are creating solutions to the implications it will bring on both the indoor and outdoor season. We are working on guidelines, template risk assessments, booking systems, cross club collaboration ideas and a whole host of other things that will help clubs navigate the new world of social distancing and the inevitable impact it will have on our sport.
- Beginners’ courses and have-a-go sessions – New members are important to the financial sustainability of our clubs. We are working on how we can help clubs and club coaches to run beginners’ courses and have-a-go sessions while adhering to social distancing. We are also working on a back to archery campaign, which clubs can use to promote their activities (similar to the Big Weekend) once we are back up and running. We may also be able to provide a small grant scheme to assist clubs with running beginner and Boost courses. Please look out for future announcements on the website.
- Volunteers – We know a significant proportion of our volunteers are in the vulnerable category outlined by the government. We also assume that these people are likely to be social distancing/isolating for longer. We are working through how we can support them to be active, as well as how we can encourage more people to take their first step in volunteering for their club, or to take the next step into a more senior role. We will certainly need to rally the troops when the time comes.
- Coaching and Instructing – We are working through the implications to coaching and instructing while social distancing, as well as guidance for how the training for coaches and instructors can resume, and how online learning can be more broadly adopted.
- Competition – We are looking at the remaining tournaments that Archery GB run and reviewing whether they need to be postponed or cancelled and whether they can be feasibly run while adhering to social distancing rules. We will also be working with tournament organisers to help them to review whether their competitions can be run safely under the new guidance. We are also highly aware of the implications on the volunteer workforce, the reduction of people available and possibly an increase in demand due to a condensed calendar. We are also working through the implications to rankings and classifications etc.
Hopefully the information above will give you an idea of the scale of the project and I have by no means captured everything. We have an awful lot of detail to work through in order to make sure we are prepared to get back on the shooting line as soon as it is safe to do so and government guidance allows us. I would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can to make sure we can get you back doing the sport we love when the time comes.
We have continued to identify ways to cut costs across the organisation and sadly we are furloughing more staff this week. We are also moving to a reduced working week through May. We will be closing the office on Fridays starting from this week (Monday 4 May), and our opening hours will now be Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm. If you would like to get in touch then please email email@example.com or call our main number on 01952 677888. Please be mindful that the remaining team are supporting more areas of the organisation, and it may take us a little longer than usual to get back to you. You can keep up to date with all the latest info on coronavirus on our dedicated web page: www.archerygb.org/covid19
Our performance team has also reallocated some of its staffing resources to support the wider organisation. Our performance staff and coaches are assisting with some of the general administration of the back to archery planning. They are also assisting with our communication, and in particular with the development of resources and content to share with our volunteers and members. Our athletes and specialist practitioners are also assisting with the creation of informative content.
Our Director of Sport, David Tillotson, has been asked to form part of a UK Sport working group, who are working with DCMS on what a return to elite level training may look like. Being a part of this group allows us to influence and gain some insight into the discussions being held at a government level.
We are anticipating a significant reduction in membership next year and of course significant financial losses. But I’d like to reassure you that we are committed to looking at ways we can reward the loyalty of those who have retained membership with us during the period of no sport, although unfortunately I’m not in a position to say what that might look like just yet. Please make sure you follow us on social media @ArcheryGB for fun quizzes, games and the latest videos and tips to stay active while at home. Our news page on the website is full of interesting articles to keep you connected during lockdown.
Please continue to support your club if, financially, you are able to do so, as we need our clubs to survive this difficult time. I’m delighted to announce that 13 clubs have successfully applied for and received emergency funding from Sport England with more than £26,000 already allocated to archery clubs. It is not too late to apply for any loss of earnings your club may be facing. You can find out more here.
Finally, I would like to congratulate all the winners and nominees of our ontarget volunteer awards, which took place (virtually) last week. We couldn’t do this without the support of our thousands of volunteers, and now more than ever, we recognise the contribution they make to archery. Thank you to every one of you for your continued support. We will come through this by working together. We know this is an incredibly frustrating situation for everyone, but we are looking forward to seeing you all back out shooting when the time comes. In the meantime, stay safe, stay home and help save lives.
CEO, Archery GB