Pivot to Active Wellbeing

Pivot to Active Wellbeing

Community health and wellbeing is at the core of the ambitious Pivot to Active Wellbeing programme and involves all 10 local authorities and their leisure operators alongside GM Moving and Sport England colleagues. 

The aim is to change how our leisure centres, swimming pools, fitness facilities, services and teams serve their people and communities; to better support active lives for all, tackle health inequalities and ensure that active wellbeing becomes an integral and valued contributor to the wider health and social care system in every neighbourhood.

The wider long-term ambition is to provide a flexible, scalable, and replicable framework to support active wellbeing in communities across the UK.

Within our gift

  • 99 centres to support health and wellness
  • A coalition of 3,500 staff to support local community health and wellbeing
  • Community hubs
  • Clarity of purpose
A proven track record to success
  • Prehab 4 Cancer!

The programme is funded – financially and in-kind – and is being delivered by:
  • GM Active and GM Moving.
  • The 10 Greater Manchester local authorities.
  • Sport England.
  • The 12 Greater Manchester leisure trusts.

The University of Salford, Future Fit and strategic advisors, SLC, which has previously worked with local councils, London boroughs, Sport England and a wide range of leisure sector organisations, have been commissioned to deliver certain elements of the overall programme.

A collaborative partnership

12 Leisure Trusts of GM Active

Plus, GM Moving, Greater Sport & Sport England

Commissioning The University of Salford, Future Fit and strategic advisors, SLC

One aim: Pivot to Active Wellbeing

Introducing the Pivot to Active Wellbeing programme 2023-2025

Partners across Greater Manchester are working together to transform public sector leisure, with a collaborative, whole system approach that changes culture, systems, policy and practice and supports the collective GM Moving mission: Active Lives for All.

This will be achieved through a focussed programme of work, supported by a community of practice and learning approach to spread and grow what is good.


The pivot has four main strands:
  • A strategic review of the publicly owned facilities and services.
  • Establishing the appetite for collaboration among all involved.
  • Transforming the workforce in line with the pivot.
  • A shared (federal) approach to securing utilities, supplies, services and specialist functions.



Post-pandemic future of public leisure

To understand the future of public leisure, we need to turn the clock back to 2020 and the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when a conversation began about re-designing systems, processes and services to support the people and communities of Greater Manchester.

In the midst of extremely challenging circumstances locally, partners brought an agenda item to the GM Moving Executive Group to highlight the individual and collective challenge of each locality and their leisure providers. This was before a leisure recovery fund was secured and utilised nationally and just before the tiered response to COVID-19 restrictions started to disproportionately impact on different localities at different times.

GM Moving’s then-Executive Group Chair, Steven Pleasant, took a paper to the GM Local Authority CEOs to explain the individual and collective challenge and impact and agree a collective leadership approach to work through the pandemic and beyond.

The recognition and commitment from the Local Authority CEO group was that leaders across the system needed to hold multiple perspectives concurrently, with two key aims:

Aim 1

To sustain the public sector leisure infrastructure through the pandemic and beyond.

Aim 2

To maximise the future contribution of the leisure providers to the population health picture in Greater Manchester as we seek to Build Back Fairer.

Strategic advisors, SLC were then commissioned to explore the immediate challenges of the pandemic, in the context of the historic and future challenges; the things that may be inhibiting the contribution of services to Greater Manchester’s physical activity, population health and wider societal needs and ambitions.

A clear programme of work was shaped, with commitment to a collective leadership model across a range of key GM Moving partners, including local authorities, GM Active, Sport England, and 10GM.

Following a series of workshops and individual engagement sessions with stakeholders, the strategic advisors, SLC team brought their findings back in the form of a report to the Greater Manchester Chief Executives Group, which stressed the compelling need for a radical shift in emphasis and focus for future services.

It recommended stakeholders across GM to share in a desire to shift from ‘fitness’ to ‘wellness’, with a long-term aim to support a transition from traditional leisure facilities to community focused wellness hubs.

Active academic partnership

1. Work Together

•Data Drive
•Research Evidence
•Local & Stakeholder knowing

2. Support People to Create

•GM Standard
•Led by Stakeholders
•Existing Initiatives
•New Ideas

3. Local Decision Making

•Adapt Solutions
•Strategic & Rigorous Process

4. Putting Know-ledge into Action

•Try Out & Evaluate
•Share Success
•SHOUT about Success

Adding academic rigour to our Pivot to Active Wellbeing

The University of Salford’s mission is to facilitate the use of best evidence in practice, research, and policy to improve the support and treatment for people with (or at risk of) long-term health conditions.

Scholars from Salford University’s School of Health and Society are gathering and assessing information using the Knowledge to Action (K2A) framework also used by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This allows a common methodology to be used by all localities. This is essential to share, and level-up gains made differentially across localities. It also prepares people to sustain changes.

It provides a common, systematic, evidence based approach and allows us to understand which elements work in which contexts and adapt as necessary to share and sustain.

Using the K2A framework provides a rigorous and replicable process that will support individual localities and communities to improve outcomes in ways that are specific for that locality.

A final word…

Jon Keating, GM Active’s Head of Business Operations, says: “We’re working with our partners to transform public sector leisure with a holistic approach that changes culture, systems, policies and practice.

“While it’s crucial we identify what our facilities and our people out in the community can offer, it’s just as important that we take our workforce with us on this journey. By bringing together knowledge from all parts of the system, from all roles and localities, we can find solutions designed by the many for the many.”

A final word…

To support that aspiration, GM Active has secured funding from GM Moving, and is working with industry training provider Future Fit, to help key staff make the transition.

Known as the Transformational Leadership Programme, it steers would-be leaders from being ‘fitness and facilities’ managers to put them at the vanguard of public health and wellbeing. The funding also covers training for more than 3,500 staff of all levels working for members of the GM Active collective.


Workforce – Future Fit

Future Fit Icons

Building Icon


Workforce re-skilling and development:


Health interventions

Community work

Prehab and rehab



Integrated services:

Health checks

Active in the community


Prehab and rehab functions

Healthy eating hub

Wellbeing suite


If you would like to follow and engage with this work as it develops, please follow
@GMMoving and @GM_Active on social media. Look for the hashtag #PivotToActiveWellbeing

For more information, you can also email: GM Active Chair andy.king@mcractive.com, or GM Moving Exec Lead hayley@gmmoving.co.uk or Sport England’s Strategic Lead – Place Lucie.Unsworth@sportengland.org.

Pivot to Active Wellbeing Case Studies

Our Pivot to Active Wellbeing has four main strands – one of which is a strategic review of the publicly owned facilities and services within the 99 centres that form the physical assets of the GM Active collective.

This part of the programme has been conducted by one of our partners, SLC, the UK’s leading consultancy in public sector leisure and active wellbeing, who have looked at potential collaboration opportunities, facility designs (new and retrofit options), energy benchmarking and much more to shape decisions and guide future strategic direction.

We thank them for all their outputs received and agreed. Here, we share some of their case studies that put ‘flesh on the bones’ of what the pivot could look like in those centres within our gift, along with examples of how the work in progress is already taking shape.

The Bury Wellness Strategy

Health inequalities in Bury are stark. Men’s life expectancy can vary by 15 years depending on where they live, while for women it’s 11 years. Bury needed something radical. Transformation was the answer.

Read more

MCRactive – Transitioning a Leisure Trust

Denmark Road Leisure Centre presented an opportunity to utilise a building, traditionally operated as a leisure asset, in a different way. Here’s how.

Read more

Rochdale – Moving on After a Stroke

The borough’s leisure operator, Your Trust, funded a programme of courses called ‘Moving On After Stroke’. Four years later, six attendees still attend weekly online sessions while some others visit their local leisure centre.

Read more

Salford – Public Health Outcomes Framework

A specific focus was support for cancer, cardiovascular disease, smoking, vaccines and immunisations, mental wellbeing, suicide prevention, risky behaviours and the wider health determinants such as poverty and welfare.

Read more

Interested in working with us?

We are actively seeking new partners, opportunities for collaboration and innovative ways of working.  We can’t do this alone. If our plans, purpose and intent chime with you, please do connect with us and be part of our transformational movement.