Football charity uses video to help reduce loneliness in its community

Regional charity Oxford United in the Community has successfully delivered a video campaign to help reduce loneliness during COVID-19. It commissioned Fortitude to produce a series of special videos interviewing Oxford United legends to help support older members of its community.

The engagement formed part of a national Let’s Tackle Loneliness Together’ campaign by the EFL Trust. In addition to the videos, Oxford United in the Community produced brochures and hosted virtual coffee mornings. 

The films were designed to temporarily replace The Manor Club’ a monthly social event for the over 50s in which a guest speaker treated people to stories and memories. Thanks to funding by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the charity was able to deliver a digital alternative and continue to support older people. 

Our video production team worked with the charity to plan the series of films and managed interviewing, filming and editing of each edition of the Manor Club Extra’. The videos are hosted on the charity’s YouTube channel and made a positive impact on the campaign’s outcomes. 

Engaging the hard to reach 

The charity needed to find new ways to engage with older people when lockdown restrictions were introduced. 

Delivering a series of engaging feature length videos proved to be a highly effective way of engaging with its target audience.

Our campaign was very targeted, said Oxford United in the Community project lead Alex Blane. A recent study from the Office of National Statistic revealed 2.6 million adults reported they felt lonely often or always, so there is a real need for support. 

The EFL Trust identified the over 70s as being the most isolated during the pandemic and so we worked on a plan to ensure we created videos that would appeal to them. We focused on filming club legends sharing their memories from yesteryear and ensured our guests were from different eras covering the past 50 years. 

The data and feedback on the videos was fantastic and they really helped us engage with our audience. Some of the feedback was humbling, with people saying it really gave them a lift and helped them. 

The videos have been some of our best performing content on YouTube and helped us achieve our overall objectives of reducing loneliness.”

Unique video content 

The series of videos involved interviewing former Oxford United players, members of the charity and filming specialist fitness advice and workouts with Active Oxford and Age UK Oxfordshire.

Fortitude managed interviews with guests including former Oxford United footballers and charity patrons James Constable and Les Robinson and BBC Oxford Sport commentator Nick Harris. Plus, the founders of the charity Peter Rhoades Brown and Malcolm Elias. 

It was the unique nature of the content that helped drive engagement. Each guest shared memories and the films included stories that had not been shared before. 

We needed a way to reach people and hold their attention,” said Alex. Video proved to be the best way for us to do so. The interviews were insightful, entertaining and highly relevant to our key audience.”

Interviewing skills

To achieve engaging content required the ability to make the interviewees feel comfort and ask the right questions. 

Fortitude’s head videographer Thom Airs conducted the interviews alongside the filming. His journalistic experience ensured the charity achieved a high-quality standard of interview and the audience could enjoy engaging content. 

Commissioning a professional video agency that uses experienced journalists to conduct interviews made a big difference to the final output,” said Chris Lowes, Head of Oxford United in the Community. 

Fortitude took the time to help us plan our video campaign and then ensured the content was unique and the production values were fantastic. The professionalism of the interviewing techniques were first class and helped create fantastic outcomes.”

Marketing the campaign

A key part of the campaign was raising awareness and ensuring the engagement programmes reached the target audience. 

As part of Fortitude’s on-going communications and PR services for Oxford United in the Community our team delivered a range of tactics to ensure effective engagement. This included articles in the regional media, interviews on BBC Radio Oxford, website content and a prime-time television feature on BBC South Today. The activity helped enhance the charity’s reputation, brand awareness and drive visitors to the charity’s YouTube channel to watch the videos. 

The PR activity Fortitude delivered worked hand in hand with the output of the videos,” said Chris. It ensured our message was communicated regularly, helped us expand our audience and helped increase our engagement and the overall positive impact of the campaign. 

Fortitude were highly accommodating throughout the campaign, often adjusting to film at short notice and were always available to provide advice and support.” 

Greig Box Turnbull, founder of Fortitude said: Oxford United in the Community’s Let’s Tackle Loneliness Together’ campaign was inspiring and made a big difference in the county. We were proud to support the charity via the digital delivery and PR of the campaign and pleased by the high uptake within the community.” 

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