Active4Life quarterly review: 1/8

We recently embarked on a two-year initiative to build active communities in three places across Derbyshire. To test the theories of asset based community development and systems leadership, starting with people in their place.

Active4Life is based around the communities of Fairfield (High Peak), New Bolsover and Carr Vale (Bolsover) and Petersham (Erewash) in Derbyshire. It’s largely funded by Sport England as part of the Local Delivery Pilot programme. Additional funds come from Erewash Borough Council, High Peak Borough Council and Bolsover District Council.

Underpinning Assumptions

Based on our experience of community-based sport development, alongside lots of evidence and data, we believe:

  • An active community is a healthy community
  • People living ‘in community’ are best placed to drive sustained change
  • Achieving a culture shift where physical activity is central to health and wellbeing depends on the contributions of many interconnected agents and agencies

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)

Our approach builds on the principles of ABCD (Asset Based Community Development) or even ABCDE (Asset Based and Community Driven Efforts). Recent experience of developing active communities across Derbyshire has shown us there’s a tendency for state-funded organisations to ‘land’ in places defined as having high needs, normally based on their ranking in the IMD. The communities are bombarded with services, interventions, help, projects, programmes and good intentions. Yet when the funding stream dries up, so does the activity.

Asset based approaches build on what’s strong, not what’s wrong. Initial effort goes into unearthing and connecting with local people who have energy, ideas and who care about themselves, each other and their place. Enabling those people to lead in their place is crucial and achieves sustainable change in the long term. Connecting the wider system around the ABCDE model will be central to our approach and learning in Derbyshire. We’ll work with colleagues from Active Derbyshire, Live Life Better Derbyshire, CCGs, Public Health and Local Authorities to achieve the culture shift required for lasting change.

Key work strands include:

Local leadership development – connecting people locally, building a movement and trialing a new leadership scheme for future community leaders to champion physical activity.

Influencing the influencers: Organised and systematic public narrative and story telling with different audiences in communities to demonstrate the value of regular physical activity. For example engaging GPs, pharmacists, nurses, facility operators, politicians, policy makers and retailers in regular community story telling events. Kick starting conversations between diverse groups of people around sport, exercise and being active.

Creating exposure: Testing new ways of exposing people to physical activity through events and campaigns. Exercise will be integrated into other activities such as cookery classes and local challenges such as the Daily Mile and Family Mile.

Quarterly reviews

This work began in August 2018 and we’ll be sharing quarterly findings as we progress over the next two years. Reflective practice is central to our approach and we intend to use our learning to influence future action as we go.

The first review sets the scene in terms of the wider joined up approach in Derbyshire. It outlines the three places, insight gained so far and our early reflections on community engagement – the successes, risks and learning.

You can read the first quarterly review here  and we welcome feedback, comments and suggestions. If you’d like to find out more about this work please contact Andrea Kemp



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