Spotlight of the month: Project leads

I’m Grace, one of the GOGA activators, and for this month’s spotlight I am interviewing Kate Petty and Greg Hull, whose jobs are to run and manage the GOGA programme together…

How long have you been working for Get Out, Get Active (GOGA) and what led you to your job initially?

Greg: I started working with GOGA just over five years ago, at the start of the programme, and I’ve stayed with it ever since. I wanted a change in career when I started and I had just finished a Masters in Sport Coaching, which made me aware of the wider benefits of physical activity and wellbeing. I have stayed so long because it fits so nicely into what I want to do. I have been employed at the university, however, since 1992, working mainly at the outdoor sports grounds. I currently split my time between my GOGA role and my other job at the university, working as a Health and Wellbeing Coordinator.

Kate: I’ve been working for Sport and Physical Activity (SPA) and GOGA for around eight months, so a lot less time than Greg! I have worked at the university for a few years now; I used to work mainly with international students. It has been a nice natural progression from my old job to working with GOGA, a programme which has a lot of international student participants. I studied sports science at uni and have always had a passion for sport and physical activity, so having a job which allowed me to promote that to others was the main reason I wanted to get involved with GOGA.

What are your key responsibilities in your job running the GOGA programme?

Greg: We have a really good mutually beneficial set of skills between us. There are some things which one of us has lead responsibility on but we are able to cover for each other when necessary. Kate does more than me as she’s here full time, but my key responsibilities are to manage the Balance programme offer that we have and also the general walking offer. I also do a little bit of the back office stuff because I’ve learnt all the processes, the health and safety, the procurement, the finance – all that stuff that is really a bit dull, but needs to be done to keep the programme running!

Kate: A big one that we both do is recruitment and management of the activators and volunteers. The GOGA programme couldn’t run without the activator team and the volunteer team. We have an activator team of ten, of which I manage seven and Greg manages three, and we have a much wider pool of volunteers who help us out on our walking programme. We both work together to develop the walking programme, always trying to grow and evolve it over time. A bigger thing that I take sole responsibility for is the social media and marketing of the programme, trying to spread the message about GOGA across campus, with support from activators. Another big aspect of GOGA which I manage is the campus discovery and the GOGA app, which provides self-guided tours around campus for new students.

Kate: It’s probably also worth mentioning that GOGA is the biggest, but not the only, part of what we do in our jobs in the Sport and Physical Activity department; we have a lots of other side projects. Something that we haven’t yet mentioned is our Couch to 5K programme! We started out with thirty-odd participants in the autumn 2019 programme to now having forty eight participants in the spring 2020 programme, so it has grown considerably. It is a great beginner entry level running programme for people wanting to get into social running.

Greg: And at the moment we’re actually training more coaches so that we can expand this programme further!

What do you enjoy most about working with GOGA and have there been any memorable moments?

Greg: When we began we were being funded by Sport England. After three years we pitched to the University of Leeds that GOGA should become a permanent entity, which was a massive thing for us to become a permanent part of the Sport & Physical Activity offer.

Kate: We’re here to stay! In terms of what I enjoy most about the job, the fact that we can clearly see, through photographs, through feedback, through speaking with our team of activators, the difference that the programme has on students and staffs lives’ is very rewarding. We’re managing a programme that is providing people with low cost opportunities to be active and it’s great to see the impact that it has.

Kate: GOGA brings people together from different cultural backgrounds, people who otherwise might not have any opportunity to meet one another, and seeing these relationships form amongst our activators, volunteers and participants is special.

Do you have any ideas that you would like to implement into the GOGA programme in the future?

Greg: We often have new ideas! If you had asked us a few months ago, for example, I would have mentioned that we wanted to start an entry level running programme and now we have the Couch to 5K programme. We’re now asking ourselves if we can apply that model to any other activities – cycling or walking maybe. We’re always looking out for ways to secure some extra funding so that we can go to places or do some activities that have that a cost barrier attached to them.

Kate: There is definitely lots of potential with the GOGA app. We use the app at the minute mostly for our campus discovery events, as I’ve already mentioned, but the potential for the app to be used more widely across campus is great. I’m already in talks with different teams across campus as to how they could use the app in their areas.

Kate: Greg and I respond to feedback and demand from participants. We’re always looking to add new walking destinations; this term is the first time we’re going to Scotland for a walking trip and that came about because participants said they’d like to venture further afield. We also introduced Knaresborough to the walking programme last term which has proven to be a popular trip. We’d like to continue introducing new walking destinations and broadening out our trip offer. Another area that could grow over the coming years is the Balance programme which currently consists of yoga and pilates classes.

Do you have any last comments?

Kate: We really enjoy what we do and we are lucky to have such a supportive team in each other. Greg and I have a really close working relationship and we have support from the wider team of activators and volunteers and other colleagues within SPA. We are lucky in that we always recruit good people into our activator team and they help us deliver what is such a fantastic programme of activity!