With great pride and sadness and after much soul searching, the Board of Directors have come to a decision to wind up the company at the end of December 2022.
Introduction from our Chair, Rosemary Leach MBE
I am incredibly proud to have led this innovative and agile organisation over the past 13 years and all that we have achieved with partners in Derbyshire and the East Midlands during a time of significant change in the sport and physical activity sector. We set out in 2009 with a fresh approach to building active communities – from the inside out. Starting with Derbyshire’s rural farming and ex-mining villages introducing regular, locally led sport and exercise sessions in church halls and on recreation grounds and then expanding to develop activity in workplaces, schools, GP Practices, hospitals, towns and cities with an ethos of growing leadership capacity and opportunities wherever we go.
Having fulfilled so many of our ambitions and demonstrated the value of physical activity for mental, physical, and social wellbeing, we have taken the decision to draw our organisation to a close in December 2022. We do this in the confidence that much of the work is already well sustained and continues to grow with local people at the helm and we are working with partners to find new homes for key workstreams.
Our mission was to build active communities ahead of and beyond the London 2012 Olympics. With the torch relay in the heart and hands of local volunteers we succeeded in embedding sport and physical activity into the lives of over 50,000 people through the award-winning Village Games initiative.
Partnering with Sport England, The Leadership Centre, Active Partners Trust, Derbyshire County Council and Derbyshire’s Districts and Boroughs we went on to pioneer an asset-based approach to building vibrant, active communities at a neighbourhood level, awakening families and individuals to the potential of regular exercise as well as community organising in places where it matters most. This style of gutsy and authentic community-led action continues to grow and develop in large and small ways through social action groups, clubs, festivals, challenges and peer support networks, and whilst we know this takes time, it is owned by local people and is likely to be long lasting and flexible enough to respond to future needs.
Trailblazing with the Nottingham based initiative ‘Fit4Life’ initiative, we connected GP practices and Type 2 diabetic patients to quality assured, community-based activities in over 500 locations. This led to a workplace version of Fit4Life, partnering with technology company Activinsights and Nottingham Trent University Research Team in 2018 which resulted in over 300 participants increasing their activity levels by 48 minutes per day over a 3-month period. This initiative also led to several of Derbyshire’s anchor organisations (Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire County Council) adapting their people management culture to enable staff to be regularly active during the working day, improving feelings of wellbeing, mental and physical health and creating a positive work environment.
Our thriving Jog Derbyshire network of volunteer led jogging groups goes from strength to strength with almost 6000 members and 500+ volunteers across the city and county. This year’s Derby 10k was a brilliant example of the power of passionate leaders to enable others to feel the health benefits of being active. We were delighted to see over 250 Jog Derbyshire joggers completing the race, many of whom were attempting this distance for the first time, having started their journey into regular exercise through a Couch 2 5K with one of the quality assured groups.
The End of an Endeavour, our CEO and Founder Andrea Kemp
Since founding the Community Interest Company with Hayley Lever in 2009 and subsequently working as CEO since 2016, I have been fortunate to work alongside an incredibly supportive, highly skilled, and discerning Chair and Board of Directors. Together with a talented team, we have created a dynamic and purposeful company with a strong culture of distributed leadership and a can-do attitude. I have loved every minute and seem to have learnt more about life in these few years than I have in the many that came before!
Forging relationships based on shared discovery, intimacy and wholehearted endeavour has been the bedrock of this journey. Partners gathering in parks, team meetings on trails and Board meetings with beer – fun and friendship have been at the heart of our purpose as well as our ways of being and will live on way beyond the organisation.
Concluding operations, wrapping up the company and exploring the next phase for some of our work feels the right thing now. Having been afforded the space and time to experiment with ideas, collaborate with peers, push boundaries, and strive to create a healthier, happier and fitter population we’ve fulfilled many of our dreams and changed not just activity levels but the way we think, behave and relate to the work and each other.
The purpose of the enterprise was to inject new energy, challenge traditional approaches to sport and community development, and improve lives through our work. From an initial focus on the London 2012 Olympics, we have reshaped and repurposed our work over the past decade. With each new focus and the changing political and financial landscape, we have achieved the social goals we set ourselves and the cycle has now reached a natural ending.
Celebrating the Continuing Community
It’s time now to move on to other endeavours but as we do so, we will explore the potential for new homes for key workstreams and celebrate the continuing action, passion and grit at the heart of communities and this work: These are the people who care for their own and each other’s health and wellbeing; they lead and enable life changing activity on a daily basis. With the support of each other and the networks created, long may it continue.