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Active in Lockdown

“The films that the other participants have made are all inspirational – anything is possible if you put your mind to it”

Active in Lockdown is a project run by Dr Melanie Chalder and Professor Martin Hurcombe from the University of Bristol with Knowle West Media Centre. Together we have been recording and saving for posterity one of the few positive aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic: the huge surge in active leisure (cycling, running, walking, or any other form of human-powered mobility) in Bristol and the surrounding area during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project had two aims. The first, which is still ongoing, is to build an archive of individuals’ and community groups’ social media posts, photos, videos and other media recording their outdoor adventures and experiences. The second was to record the stories of a group of individuals who’d embraced outdoor exercise during the pandemic as they tried to maintain momentum through what turned out to be a third national lockdown.

The Project 

From March – to July 2021, Knowle West Media Centre ran a series of online workshops with a group of local people to support and guide them through the process of creating their own short-films to share their personal experiences. From storyboarding, to editing on iMovie – the workshops were fun and engaging, with activities that brought the group together similar to a real life session. All workshops were accessible, adapting where necessary and all participants shot footage for their films using their mobile phones. There were challenges due to the COVID-19 and restrictions at the time, people’s varying availability, however we overcame them by being flexible with everyone’s varying needs throughout. You can watch the final films created by the group below.

“It has pushed me to start running again after the winter… and also start these conversations elsewhere”

“It’s been nice to have the solidarity of that shared experience and meet other people who have had a similar journey, which has given me confidence”

Why are we doing this?

We want to create a digital and freely available archive of people’s stories and experiences so that we can learn some immediate lessons from them, but also so that we have a historical record of how the pandemic transformed lives in the area and our relationship to the world around us. We use the stories to evaluate the physical and emotional benefits of active leisure, but also the difficulties of maintaining levels of activity since the first lockdown ended. Ultimately, we’d like to translate this into policy recommendations for Bristol City Council, WECA, regional public health organisations, and other bodies interested in improving residents’ quality of life.

You can still help If you’d like to help us record history-in-the-making and help provide better informed advice to local policy makers, please consider donating your stories and images to the archive. We are continuing to add material to this, so why not check it out here? You can also watch some of the AIL films we have made so far on our Positive Spin Youtube Channel.

Want to know more? Contact the team via 

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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