FolkActive benefit from Investing in Communities project

Date: 13 October 2020   Author: Energise Me

We’ve awarded £95,000 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund so far as part of our Investing in Communities project. We’re thrilled to see the impact it’s having.

Many local organisations, clubs, and partners have helped us to identify who needs funding in Hampshire and Isle of Wight. To them, we say a huge thank you.

Investing in Communities is about much more than funding. It has helped us to connect with new partners, to offer workforce advice, and to begin discussions in new areas. This project is all about relationships, and cross-sector support.



FolkActive CIC provide activities that benefit people and communities in Hampshire and southern England. They work with a wide variety of individuals and groups, from children to older people.

These include refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants, or people who simply share a common interest.COVID-19 and lockdown had a significant effect on FolkActive. They suffered reduced income and cancelled events.

They knew that the community they’d built through dance was important to all involved. Their older members, in particular, would struggle to stay connected and be active during lockdown.


The effect of lockdown on FolkActive’s dancers

Many of FolkActive’s dancers struggled with lockdown and missed their regular dance sessions.

K has a diagnosis of early stage dementia. His wife told us “He wakes me early saying we mustn’t be late, [for the movement session] but of course it’s not on. None of the groups are happening. The days feel very long!”

J is in her late seventies and lives on the Isle of Wight. She has enjoyed dancing throughout her life, and has been attending live FolkActive Dances since 2016, travelling all the way to Southampton by bus and ferry for the sessions.

“I’ve been badly affected mentally. I’ve felt very isolated, especially as I had to give up my car during lockdown because of health issues. All my family live on the mainland. From where I live it’s about a 40 minute walk to the sea, but I don’t feel well enough to walk that far. A friend with a car has visited and taken me out more recently, but I do have down days.”


Investing in Communities

Investing in Communities funding enabled FolkActive to run fortnightly online ceilidhs. These helped new and existing participants to stay connected and keep active. It was a steep learning curve!

Sam said, “As my wife and I are not especially computer literate, we were apprehensive about using “Zoom” to access the FolkActive Dance. However, we gave it a try and found it really rather easy! Especially helpful was the opportunity to log on early before the actual “Zoom” session in order to iron out any problems. As a result, we have since enjoyed other “Zoom” activities. Thank you!”

And for J, the online dances have been an invaluable way to stay connected with familiar faces, “I do feel connected to you all still. It really helps my emotional wellbeing. I haven’t lost touch.”

For the FolkActive team, the funding has allowed them to continue paying their staff, develop new delivery strategies, and build new partnerships.,

We have been able to develop and adapt our practice to include remote delivery and have improved team communication.

Jo Harmer, FolkActive Director

FolkActive have also been able to use the funding to continue to develop their volunteers.

Catherine is a volunteer and was the regular “caller” for live dances. She has mobility problems herself, which have given her insights when planning dances for older people. She has been able to go further and now adapts the larger group dances for people alone in their own homes. She says:

“For me personally, calling for the dances online has really enabled me to develop. I’m using dance ideas in a different context: I’m being creative!”

Jo told us that Catherine hadn’t created new dances before, but has now written two completely new “lockdown” dances.


A new normal?

During COVID restrictions, being able to provide a point of connection for their dancers was really important to the FolkActive team. They have been able to involve new volunteers, and reach dancers outside of their usual audience, sowing the seeds for new ideas for the future!

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants quickly becoming used to the new way sessions work.

“It was great, and it put a big smile on my face, isn’t it amazing what music and dance can do for you, even if you are really doing it all alone!”

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