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A buggy-fit session takes place in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
A buggy-fit session takes place in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Blog post -

Using principles of Place allows us to create the conditions for real change

Relationship Manager Jolyon Whaymand has been delving through Sport England's Putting It Into Practice toolkit, the tools it contains to support tackling inactivity, and how it links with London Sport's own efforts. 

‘Are you working in a place trying to influence and activate change that will support communities to live active, healthier lives?' -  Sport England toolkit Putting It Into Practice.

This question will resonate with everyone, whether you're from the ‘sport sector’ (like me), you're outside of the sport sector seeking to influence change, or someone who just wants improvements for their friends, family or neighbours.

Place-based working relies on a person-centred, bottom-up approach that is focused entirely around the needs and aspirations of people in one specific location. 

Success depends on relationship building and partnership working to develop an intense understanding of the characteristics of the place, specifically its strengths and the potential for positive change.

Place-based work is the business of:

  • strengthening local partnerships
  • providing safe spaces for conversation to flourish
  • providing critical friendship
  • giving previously unheard groups a voice
  • increasing understanding of local communities

In writing Putting It Into Practice, Sport England have drawn on the experience of several of the Local Delivery Pilot programmes, who have been developing their approaches to place-based work over the last 3-4 years.

Over this time, the Local Delivery Pilot teams have tried and tested their approaches and learned that collaborative, lasting change came about most effectively when creating the conditions for change rather than having an aim to directly impact the place itself. 

    In my work as a Relationship Manager at London Sport, I am lucky enough to be involved in a few place-based projects. 

    These range from Let’s Go Southall, one of twelve Sport England Local Delivery Pilots, to a project that I’m calling Active Hayes (working title), which is centred around promoting activity opportunities on the estate prior to/during its phased redevelopment. 

    The pace and scope of the work is vastly different in these places but the principles are similar.

    But Putting It Into Practice isn’t a set menu for place-based work.

    It’s more of a buffet where we can try a few dishes and see which ones we like and which ones are going to be favourable for the people we’re sat with.

    It’s also important to remember that if something didn’t taste right the first time, it might not be the right time and we can come back to it later and try it again.

    With this in mind, he's a few things I've learned from my experience of place-based work to date which I hope you'll find useful when trying to create change in your area:

    • Develop an idea of what you might hope to learn over time. If you don’t know exactly then be clear about the areas where you might hope to see change.
    • Involve local stakeholders in the design of the programme at the earliest opportunity
    • Include a broad range of partners and look to networks outside of the obvious
    • Keep in touch with people – provide updates on what’s happened and what is coming up
    • Be patient. These things take time

    To learn more about London Sport's work in 'Place' click here.




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    London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

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