Nearly 5,000 people in low socio-economic groups have been helped to get active during the first year of our TIED – Tackling Inactivity and Economic Disadvantage – programme.
Between them, they received more than £4 million in National Lottery funding which is being put towards engaging inactive people from low socio-economic communities.
5,000 Almost 5,000 people have been engaged in physical activity
The work they are doing is helping to inform our future approach to engaging similar participants, and we are starting to see some key lessons from their work.
Throughout October we will be focusing on our work with these projects and the learnings we are starting to gather. We will be sharing their stories, as well as those from other projects that haven’t been funded as part of the TIED programme but are still working with the same groups of people.
The TIED fund was created after our insight showed that a third of people in low socio-economic groups are classed as inactive – doing fewer than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.
Results from our Active Lives Adult Survey also showed that this figure is twice as high as those from more affluent communities.
Most of the selected organisations had never received funding from us before and did not have a track record of delivering sport or physical activity but they wanted to make a difference for the communities in which they work.
The types of projects funded vary from late-night physical activity sessions for shift-workers in Manchester, to a programme of activity sessions at a women’s refuge charity in Yorkshire. They are running for anywhere between one and four years, and have so far engaged nearly 5,000 participants.
Our Active Lives Adult Survey showed around a third of people in low socio-economic groups are inactive
Viveen Taylor is our strategic lead for low socio-economic groups and has been leading on the TIED programme.
“I’m delighted that we are investing in projects and organisations that wouldn’t traditionally approach us to support their work,” she said.
"What we're learning from TIED will help us to share more widely the need to think and respond differently to this important group of society when designing programmes that support people from low income groups to think differently about their physical activity.”
Despite being the early stages of this fund, we are starting to see common themes arising from the projects we are working with.
Below you will find a list of early learnings we have collated from the projects to date, split into three phases – preparation, programme design and sustainability.
This pre-delivery work is vital to help understand the community, build trust, and identify assets within the community that can be utilised. Here are some key points to remember:
- Develop a community network and make use of what is already there in an asset-based approach rather than deficit-based approach. This should include partnerships with local groups/organisations and build on existing relationships and sessions already taking place. All partners need to ensure a consistency of message though.
- Get your face known and build trust with potential participants or find people and organisations who have that trust already.
- Use partnerships with other organisations to help bring down the cost of participation.
- Use your network and the trust you build to really understand the local community, including the barriers to participation and engagement so that they can be removed.
We are seeing successful projects take a flexible, open, friendly, and patient approach.
- Make sessions fun, accessible, and welcoming. Consider including more information than normal to explain what happens – a video of the session on your website so that people know what to expect and have volunteers on the door to welcome and greet. That person should be trusted, understood and should be perceived to be from the local community, or ‘one of us’.
- Find what is important to people, prioritise it and build physical activity in from that point – almost a ‘physical activity by stealth’ approach.
- Give opportunity and flexibility to try a range of activities, reacting to what participants are interested in, and allow ownership and leadership by participants and the local community.
- Use all types of marketing to reach everyone, including video case studies or real stories, and try different methods of engagement to find those that work.
- Language is important – the word ‘sport’ can really put people off.
- Change the setting away from venues that can be intimidating, such as a gym.
- The key skills for coaches and session leaders should relate more to inter-personal skills and building trust than technical coaching ability.
- Don’t be afraid to change things if something isn’t working – take a flexible approach and respond to what does and does not work.
Enabling and empowering the local community to take ownership of programmes themselves can really help to sustain and embed projects.
- The use of local volunteers is key in developing trust and improving the chances of sustaining a project. Sometimes it only takes a small amount of money to start something that engages people, but it’s the local buy-in and support that keeps it going.
- Provide opportunities for training and support for those who are interested in leading sessions or becoming volunteers, and then empower those volunteers to help them support the project.
- Sessions should, as far as possible, be ongoing and not limited to a short time period. Short-term projects can create resentment or reinforce mistrust and can sometimes be more damaging than no project at all.
However, it is important to remember that while there may be common themes emerging, no two groups are alike and that every project has had to find their own way.
It is also important to note that time and patience are common requirements throughout all stages of a project – it takes time to understand the community, build relationships, and to establish trust; it takes time to find the right people, to try different approaches and to understand why something is or isn’t working; and it takes time to create a sustainable project and to build a durable habit amongst participants.
What we're learning from TIED will help us to share more widely the need to think and respond differently
Viveen Taylor, our strategic lead for low socio-economic groups
This means that projects tend to be more expensive and can take longer than average to become established.
“We must acknowledge that beneficiaries in this group face daily challenges which can impact on their ability to engage in and ultimately sustain physical activity habits,” Viveen added.
“We are beginning to understand some of these challenges, capturing outcomes and highlighting key successes with some of the projects we have invested in.
“However, we know that success in engaging this audience will rely on a joined up approach with colleagues and lots of different partners – the changes we are looking for will not happen overnight.”
Come back later in the month to read more from the projects themselves on how they are working to engage with their target audience.
If you did not receive TIED funding or did not apply but think you have a project that could benefit from funding, you could try our Small Grants fund.