In December 2017, Sport England selected 12 areas across the country to benefit from a share of £100 million of National Lottery funding to develop new approaches to building healthier, more active communities.
Pennine Lancashire which consists of the six boroughs of Hyndburn, Rossendale, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Blackburn with Darwen and Pendle is one of the areas to be successfully selected. The pilot is known as ‘Together an Active Future’ (TaAF).
Sport England Board member Andy Long recently came to visit Pennine Lancashire to see how the pilot is progressing. Rossendale Leisure Trust's CEO, Ken Masser, who is one of the Programme Directors for TaAF, hosted the visit.
Andy’s visit ‘kicked off’ by meeting Blokes United, a social inclusion football group who meet weekly at Witton Park in Blackburn. Andy listened as players told him how the group has made a positive difference to their lives.
Following this he met with TaAF’s Solution Finders. Solution Finders is a group of people from external organisations including; Lancashire County Council, Active Lancashire, Lancashire Mind and a representative from the community & voluntary sector to name a few. This group support the development of TaAF, identifying different options to help shape the pilot.
“Physical activity is not sport’ Andy stated, echoing TaAF’s programme ethos to support and encourage people to go from nothing to something, and something to a bit more!
Having listened to the progress TaAF has made so far, Andy in true leadership style headed to the whiteboard and his illustration clearly showed that there isn’t always a direct way to achieve a goal but with Sport England’s Pathfinder test and learn approach, TaAF and Pennine Lancashire can achieve it. “As pilots, if we try and get evidence that everything has worked, we have not achieved” he stressed.
It was time for us all to get up and active and we walked to our next venue where Andy met with some of the local network leads from across Pennine Lancashire as well Department of Work and Pensions colleagues, strategic partners connecting with inactive people who are out of work. Everyone had the opportunity to update Sport England on their progress so far, to share their excitement about the opportunities this pilot is providing and what differences taking a new approach is already making.
Reflecting on his first Sport England visit, Andy commented “I came away feeling a genuine commitment, passion and drive for the work that is taking place [in Pennine Lancashire] and it was very clear that you have established a collaborative network who have the same goals and ultimately, I am sure, will be successful in delivering a positive difference”.