Sport Bay of Plenty
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From the CEO

Kia ora,

The 2019-20 year is impossible to summarise without first contextualising the COVID-19 lockdown and changes in the final four months of the financial year.

Sport Bay of Plenty’s response to this situation was to stay grounded in our purpose of ‘more people, more active, more often’ and modify or adapt services to fit the changing environment. All our services were able to be enhanced to be offered from home and virtually. In addition, special project work was undertaken to explore new priorities – this provided a sound foundation for temporary and emerging issues into the remainder of 2020.

Heidi Lichtwark_web02

We were fortunate that previous work with our digital road map meant that our systems were readily transferred to working from home and we had tools to allow virtual connections with stakeholders. The organisation also focused on the health and wellbeing of our employees as the first priority. Tools such as regular short check-ins over Microsoft Teams and new forms of team connections were started in the first 10 days of lockdown. We also increased our workplace wellness offerings to the team and ensured confidential EAP services were readily available.

Earlier in the year, there was comprehensive engagement with Sport NZ on how their new strategic plan could be brought to life in the Bay of Plenty. The seven new priorities were generally already working in our region, but some greater focus in areas of play, active recreation and the use of insights and evaluation were identified as areas for growth. Our work in sport development, supported by the long-term partnership with Bay Trust, and partially focusing on coaching, Balance is Better and parental education, has continued to exceed goals.

In addition, the successful Regional Spaces and Places Strategy entered a period of review ready for a refreshed strategy later in the 2020 calendar year. Our Green Prescription and Active Families work continued to meet all targets – although different work was needing during lockdown. Support for those clients living alone and in challenging situation's increased, but over the phone or virtual links were the engagement method. Our thanks to our health investors who supported and endorsed this approach.

Our communications approach took centre stage in lockdown by using multiple platforms and relationships - this became the essential thread in all work streams. There was an amazing connection with all our communication in this period – especially video links to keep children active and provide support for teachers.

Looking ahead to 2020 - 21, we need to retain adaptability of approach to ensure we can get people returning to (and ideally increasing) previous activity levels. Initial data suggests a continued drop post lockdown in both adult and children's physical activity. We will also be embarking on a refreshed strategic plan, one that can be nimble and also clear about how we can impact in an uncertain environment. We're not sure about all the answers yet, but we know we have some key ingredients ready for the recipe.

My greatest respect and thanks to the Sport Bay of Plenty team who took the challenges of the past 12 months in their stride - and our board, who continued to support the organisation while assessing strategic risk. Particular thanks to the senior leadership team who dedicated many hours at flexible times to ensuring the business continuity plan – Catherine McCulloch, Nick Chambers and Melanie Short - you three are assets to the sector and my go-to team in any emergency!

Congratulations also to new board chairperson, Tom Elvin, who took over the role in March as Paul Wollaston exited. Tom started in possibly the most challenging month in our recent history, and never blinked.

Ngā mihi,

Heidi Lichtwark – Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive

x3 May 2016