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 GreaterSport 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.
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.
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.
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.
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, GreaterSport, 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.
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.
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.”
To support that aspiration, GM Active has secured funding from GreaterSport, 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 re-skilling and development:
Prehab and rehab
Active in the community
Prehab and rehab functions
Healthy eating hub
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or GM Moving Exec Lead email@example.com or Sport England’s Strategic Lead – Place Justine.Blomeley@sportengland.org.