I have a question for you. What connects a poorly placed dustbin in Withernsea, speeding cars in Manningham, a bad experience at school aged 11 and perceptions of professional respectability about footwear? If you’ve ever seen the quiz show ‘Only Connect’, you may well find that challenge somewhat normal (does anyone at home ever get more than two questions right?), but for the 99% of us feeling absolutely baffled by this then let me explain.
They were all manifestations of deeper themes unearthed within our local delivery pilots about how a range of conscious and unconscious actions and decisions made, end up preventing individuals from embedding sport and physical activity as part of a regular lifestyle habit.
Since we started working with our 12 pilots, we have been providing regular updates on their progress. One of the key features of those updates is how the pilots have built up their trust and credibility within their places by immersing themselves in the reality of people’s daily lives. Similarly, they have given a lot of effort to mapping and exploring their own local systems – who connects to whom. As trust has developed and people start to open up, our pilots have been able to see how the ‘local system’ really operated – good and bad.
So, what have we learnt? Here are two nuggets: not everything which is significant is said – a lot of it is quite emotional and cannot be easily explained. Another is that it takes a lot of time, space and linguistic empathy to get into a space of being frank about how people relate to each other, how communities get along and where there are blockages and barriers that go way beyond things like time or money. This is not about quick and dirty consultation.