Investment as a Catalyst for Change
On the GM Moving journey, there have been a number of key opportunities to bring investment in to support the work.
Funding has historically been one of the key reasons that partners have come together. Greater Manchester had started a different collaborative journey, through GM Moving. A shared purpose. A vision, a plan and an agreed set of principles to work to.
One of the big tests is how those principles stay the course when money becomes the focus.
The Sport England Active Ageing investment programme offered the first opportunity to test the Approach to Transformational Change. This provided a great deal of learning, as GM Moving leaders across the system started to use this approach to guide the work on all 12 GM Moving priorities. In particular, we learned that in the first step of establishing the case for change, early community engagement is essential to ensure that we are setting the right course and examining the right evidence, data and insight. Starting with people and communities comes first.
Local Delivery Pilot
In early 2017, Sport England launched the Local Delivery Pilot (LDP) process. Although there was a sense that investment in GM should come via the MoU, rather than through a bidding process, this wasn’t possible, so an Expression of Interest was submitted in March 2017.
The LDP looks like it was a more conventional ‘them and us’ bidding process. Competitive not collaborative. We often have this with other departments: that they show willingness to change, but they struggle with the processes.
There was concern in Greater Manchester that bidding for investment isn’t the most constructive approach. The MoU journey had built rich relationships, and there was a danger that the LDP process would take things back to a more transactional relationship.
There were also concerns that the LDP would drive a ‘programme’ mentality, rather than one about communities, system change and behaviour change.
Looking back on the story of GM Moving, we can identify a sense of frustration shared by many of the system leaders in GM that we placed too much emphasis on the LDP bidding process, and that due to limited capacity available, it was a distraction during the important phase following the launch of GM Moving in July 2017.
The LDP and GM Moving are at risk of becoming one. But they're not: the LDP is just a part of what GM Moving does.
Money changes people’s approach doesn’t it? The GM Moving Refresh was published last summer, and we’ve spent [a lot of time since then working to] meet the requirements of Sport England [for the LDP]. I think we’ve probably not put enough emphasis on what we wanted to achieve more broadly. I think we’re getting there now but I think we got pushed off track by chasing the money.
Case Study: Oldham visit for the Local Delivery Pilot Assessment and LDP in localities
The Oldham visit was a bit of a gamble as it was largely unscripted. We showed Sport England communities working with communities. It was a very open dialogue day, on the street and not hiding anything. We went to visit the Chaddy Park Steppers: Sport England spoke to them, and we didn't know what they would say but it was a great conversation. The Steppers were originally a football club but you wouldn't know it. They are all about tackling loneliness and mental health. They set up a walking group, and recruited volunteers to the football club in the process. ‘Mind’ were partnering with them. We also visited the Ghazali Trust in Oldham with some community leaders. Jennie Price came on the visit and was able to have a conversation with local leaders rather than a bureaucratic grand process. I've never got so many people out from London to see my residents. If you live there and you're a woman in your forties you probably have no work, high blood pressure and you’re on long term medication.
[They] came to Glodwick Leisure Centre in Oldham where there's a leisure centre that had been shut. The Ghazali Trust took this on as an asset transfer from the Council for community benefit, and not for commercialisation.
The Leisure Trust supported them to develop a gym offer. Sport England [colleagues were surprised that] a leisure trust would support ‘a competitor’ developing a gym offer. But that community isn't there to compete in the market for gyms......we are place-based, so it should be complementary. The LDP [process] told me that they weren't in the same place as us. It's a philosophically different place but when you apply these perspectives on a visit, in a place, these are very different constructs.
The allocation of the LDP investment is the next stage, so that each [locality] has money to work with to deliver. The LDP delivery group in Oldham involves housing, walking and cycling, the Executive Director, the CCG, the Director of Public Health, the leisure leads, and Employers Guilds among other people. And every borough is doing the same. The question is how to go from big to small to big to small, zoom in and out. And then from [Oldham] to GM to Sport England (national). It's all about the learning and taking that back to Sport England. It's not going to be a question of success or failure.
The LDP money is not a lot of cash but it's a catalyst. [I've] used it as a mechanism to keep influencing the Chief Executive, the elected officials and so on. It doesn't matter if it's a lot or a little, it’s enough to [help bring about change].
"The danger is that chasing the money can be at the expense of system transformation. GM is a complex adaptive system, and massive. Then this is joined to the reform agenda in health and social change, the Health and Social Care Partnership, and then that all has to feed down to locality level. There’s oodles to change. But it’s difficult to ensure that your agenda is taken forward - and money can be a hook to draw people in. In the LDP process, everyone did buy in. When it’s spread out though it's quite small money, but if you added it to the £160m walking and cycling infrastructure, and the £2m Transformation Fund money…. And we're only just getting into the local processes with the LDP money".As recently as autumn 2018, there was still a risk that there is still too much emphasis on the LDP, since there is now a pressure to deliver on the plan. This was still occupying a large part of the GM Moving Strategic Manager’s focus and time, whilst preparing to appoint an small team to lead it.
"There's a real risk that the LDP could be a distraction. It's a bit counter-intuitive compared to the direction of travel of the GM Moving Executive team and our ways of working. It's [could be] all a bit ‘programme delivery’".
[However] It could be one of two things: one, it could provide more evidence that GM Moving isn't wider activity, it's just sport and leisure again. There's a real risk we revert to silos.
Or, it could show how to embed and mainstream physical activity in the system......that’s the ambition.
"[If we’re not careful] We could end up with all we've already had: a couple of sports outreach workers, maybe a way to extend the leisure offer. The strength of the partnerships in different places will determine this, and if there's an influence on public sector spending".
There has been a significant job to do, to drive forward the implementation of GM Moving and the Local Delivery Pilot, with limited leadership resource in GM and localities, and with committed investment taking until late 2018 to come through.
However, as we move forward, more people are beginning to see the Local Delivery Pilot as a way to accelerate the wider GM Moving and whole systems approach in a tangible way.
Case Study: GM Moving in Tameside in case studies
In Tameside I'm building a £140k wellbeing centre. I'm strapped for capital but the politicians are socialised into the agenda, and we've just had a £6m refresh for physical activity. We are [enabling] two parkruns, improving footpaths and all of that.
It's the GM Moving narrative that drives this. I've embedded it, and I can bend investment plans to physical activity - which before would have been below street lighting as a priority.
I can aim for communities who aren’t active at all. I talk to headteachers about The Daily Mile. I spoke to a GP who's a parkrun practice. That's not about money - we should change the behaviours and assumptions within the whole £6bn budget.
None of that relates to the £1m LDP money or whatever I'm going to receive. We should get sport out of the box it was in 10 years ago".
"Despite some of these contradictions and challenges, our funders are absolutely part of the journey. They have worked hard on our behalf and their support, challenge and partnership is a vital component of what we are doing together. We’re on the same journey".