Donkey lovers on the other side of the world watching Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary’s work from their homes have helped the charity win an award for innovation, beating the NHS England campaign, Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

The interactive Sanctuary from Your Sofa event which was held in April during the national coronavirus lockdown has won Best Audience Engagement Campaign at this year’s UK Social Media Awards. During the half hour long broadcasts that were hosted on the sanctuary’s Facebook page had viewers tuning in from across the world.

The idea of the campaign came from the sanctuary deciding if they couldn’t welcome the public to the sanctuary, they would bring the sanctuary to them. The virtual event was watched by 440,000 people with over 8,000 engagements coming from viewers in Hawaii and New Zealand.

Speaking about the campaign, a spokesperson for the Donkey Sanctuary said: “Due to lockdown, all six of our UK donkey sanctuaries were temporarily closed to the public. We knew how much our supporters were missing the donkeys and the tranquillity of the sanctuaries themselves. This environment was exactly what people needed as a break from the anxiety caused by the pandemic. So we decided if the public couldn’t come to us, we would come to them, and so Sanctuary from your Sofa was born. The event gave people the opportunity to visit the charity’s main herd of donkeys and see how dedicated volunteers were continuing to provide the highest level of care during lockdown.”

Cheryl Martin from the Donkey Sanctuary added: “Bringing donkeys into people’s living rooms was a key objective of our digital strategy this year, before anyone ever uttered the word lockdown and we’re all delighted with the success of Sanctuary from Your Sofa. We were up against some big hitting brands and agencies across the three categories including campaigns from Samsung and the NHS England Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives campaign, so for us to have won is incredible and we couldn’t be more proud.”