Essex was chosen by Sport England in 2017 to be one of 12 pilots across the country to test new ways of tackling stubborn levels of physical inactivity by over 1 in 4 of our population. Each pilot will run initially until 2025.

Sport England have released an important document called ‘People and Places – The Story of Doing It Differently’ that brings to life the journey so far of the 12 Local Delivery Pilots, including our one in Essex led by Active Essex and working in partnership with many organisations.

People and Places provides fascinating insight into fresh and successful approaches to engaging people who do less than 30 minutes physical activity per week, mainly in our less well-off neighbourhoods.

The Local Delivery Pilot programme is a brave initiative from Sport England, who admitted back in 2016 that they didn’t have a solution to tackling the stubborn inequalities that prevent over 25% of our population from the many benefits of an active lifestyle. The 8 year programme, costing over £100 million, is being tested in 12 diverse areas of England. Essex was chosen because of the high levels of inactivity in places with a poor history of planning, places with housing booms, and places suffering long term coastal deprivation.

The importance of people and place has never been more evident than it is now.  Four years into the LDP programme, it’s clearer than ever that a place-based approach has the potential to unlock truly ground-breaking change and empower new generations of leadership at all levels.

The main findings of People and Places are:

  • The need for change – to get a different result we need to change what we were doing – we cant solve problems with the same mindset that created them
  • Ensure a place-based systems approach – no top down solutions or silo working – start with questions and not answers
  • Hard wire physical activity across different systems – don’t just focus on sport and leisure
  • Leadership needs to be shared – across systems and up and down systems
  • Progress can only move at the speed of trust
  • Empowering communities and changing systems is complicated and takes time – hold your nerve and say ‘yes to the mess’
  • Empathy is crucial – it is important to understand the lived experience of local people
  • Don’t keep knocking on closed doors – go where the energy is

So far in Essex, we have made promising breakthroughs in empowering local communities – focusing on what is strong and not what is wrong in local communities and building on that energy and positivity to reach inactive people. In Essex, we work across a variety of different systems to create the greatest impact – including health, social care, education, criminal justice, transport, planning, and with large employers.

Jason Fergus, Director of Active Essex and Essex Local Delivery Pilot Project Lead, said: “Essex has been quick to recognise the value of building trusting relationships with system leaders from sectors such as health, social care, active travel, criminal justice and education. These systems have enormous reach to inactive people and communities, and we are excited to see physical activity being hard wired into these wider system settings, demonstrating that valuable change is happening. We will use this rich insight to shape the new physical activity and sport strategy for Essex to be launched this summer.”

To find out more information and read the documents, see the links below.

LDP Narrative Key Messages

(Summary) People & Places-The story of doing it differently

People and Places – The story of doing it differently