Essex Local Delivery Pilot

How do we get people in low-income communities across Essex more active?

The Essex Local Delivery Pilot tested some approaches, by funding 17 organisations working with:

  • older people
  • families
  • people with mental health conditions.

Innovative new projects developed and grew – including gardening clubs for families and children in Colchester, community football services to engage families in Southend and dementia-friendly activity programmes in Basildon.

So what did we learn?

  • Physical activity was not the primary motivator for attending.
  • People got involved mainly for social reasons.
  • Co-producing activity was more successful as people took ownership.
  • The location had be safe, welcoming and accessible.
  • Where there was strong, passionate leadership a sense of belonging developed.
  • A flexible approach was essential to ensure activities remained relevant.
  • Groups that were well networked felt part of a bigger system.

What challenges did we encounter?

  • Mental health conditions, housing problems and low income caused demotivation.
  • Local referral systems didn’t work well.
  • People didn’t know about the programmes.
  • Providers were hesitant to share their intellectual property.
  • The public sector tended to work in silos.
  • Data collection and evaluation was inconsistent.
  • Long term funding was hard to come by.
  • Successful interventions took time and extra capacity was needed to scale up.


But success factors were found in all of the projects:

  • Many people regularly did 30 minutes of physical activity each week.
  • Participants felt more motivated to get active.
  • They experienced increased self-esteem, happiness and enjoyment; less stress and anxiety; and increased confidence.
  • Overall wellbeing improved – emotionally and physically.

Now, we’ll be supporting groups to expand – increasing participation with new sessions and activities, replicating successful programmes in new areas and adopting the ingredients of success in new environments.


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