Embracing the unfamiliar
25 November 2021
Resource Futures’ Kirstie Clarke writes about the success and the many challenges of her work delivering the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project.
We are all acutely aware of how the pandemic has forced the hand of many businesses and organisations which used to rely on face-to-face meetings, to reach out and engage in new and often unfamiliar ways.
Suddenly, we were all ‘faces in boxes’, and a new way of working has become the norm. For the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project, a project funded by Gloucestershire County Council and delivered by Resource Futures, the method of delivery had to change almost overnight.
For the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project, a project funded by Gloucestershire County Council and delivered by Resource Futures, the method of delivery had to change almost overnight.
In pre-covid times, two Real Nappy Advisors would visit antenatal classes, baby groups and clinics with tabletop displays and a wealth of information. Through face-to-face contact with parents and parents-to be, the word was spread about the project itself and the benefits of using modern washable nappies. A troubleshooting and support service was offered, with parents travelling to groups with their babies for advice on using their nappies to best effect. All of this, of course, had to stop.
The ability to deliver the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project online, has been invaluable in retaining engagement with parents.
The project already had an online presence, both through the County Council’s website and social media. Facebook and Instagram, which are the most popular platforms for people within the project’s target audience, needed to become our main channels of communication and the team needed to rise to the challenge.
This has been a great success, and feedback has been positive from parents who value the information available via a now sizeable bank of video content, on a large range of topics.
Since video calls have become the norm in all areas and people in general are feeling more confident with the concept, the team have been able to offer 1:1 consultations with parents, in place of meeting them at groups. This has the benefit of saving travel time for all parties, and allows meetings to take place at the convenience of everyone involved. Again, feedback has been positive, and it’s likely that these will continue as an option even as the world begins to reopen.
There remains a sense of hesitation and a level of nervousness particularly among new parents, about going ‘back to normal’. For many of them, their child was not even conceived at the start of the pandemic, and the idea of ‘normal’ is completely different to that which might have existed at the beginning of 2020.
The ability to deliver the Gloucestershire Real Nappy Project online, has been invaluable in retaining engagement with parents. Links with other professionals, such as Midwives, Health Visitors and antenatal teachers, have been maintained and strengthened by providing a library of resources in the way of videos and infographics that they can use and refer to. In addition, virtual events such as a showcase of local services for parents of young children, and a “Mini Real Nappy Week” which was both entertaining and informative, have helped to keep the project in the mind of local parents and families.
Word of mouth is hugely valuable to the project, and feedback consistently tells us that hearing from others who have used washable nappies and are aware of the Council’s scheme plays a big part in spreading a positive message to other parents. Through the extended use of social media, we are able to reach many more individuals through the ‘like and share’ culture, including those who may not have considered seeking us out in person.
All this having been said, the Real Nappy Advisors are keen to resume their visits to in-person groups across the county as and when it becomes possible. Their online presence will remain a valuable second string to our bow, and will certainly continue with this way of working, long after the grip of the pandemic releases.