September '18 Reflections

You've got to roll with it

"It has been a journey from small conversations to pushing at the door of big institutions, to developing a rationale and a business case, to locating it within the Combined Authority, to winning key politicians and national leaders...... GM Moving is now part of the narrative; it's where we are. Levering in money, yes but more fundamentally part of everyone's local delivery strategy".

"It's not a linear progress but it is quite splendid: from the periphery to the centre. You don't have a plan. You start from somewhere. There was enough around in terms of opportunity, a mixture of ambition and opportunism, including the Mayor".

Lots of our success is down to our ways of working: system leadership, collaboration, leaving your egos at the door. There's a long history of working like this in Greater Manchester, we've been at it for 30 years. The Combined Authority cements that. The door was always half open and we just had to push.

"The stars are now aligned around GM Moving. We've come a long way. It was all laying the foundations to here. They’re in a good place. It [was] a placeholder for a social movement. It's still that, a pulling together of collective learning: behaviour change, ways of working, principles and values. These have been surfaced, and quality standards set around them. There's lots here that people wouldn't otherwise have articulated. The risk has been raising expectations: lots of talk, less action, and no money. But we're ready now".

"GM Moving is about learning, and at the bottom, relationships. We challenge each other, but we work pretty seamlessly. Greater Sport have been a brilliant ally and an asset. Yvonne Harrison was fantastic. Even with Yvonne leaving, the County Sport Partnership has held it together. The relationships on the ground are fantastic among the people who are doing the work. It is a testament to them".

"We have to check ourselves sometimes: at this [locality] spatial level, have we got the mass mobilisation we want to see? That's the big prize, don't be distracted by the warm words and accolades at higher levels of the system".

"Sometimes people can't recognise the health language. How do we create leaders who can operate in this slippery environment: facilitative, outside of hierarchies, and a little bit scary? Moving across these boundaries is important".

There is a need to ensure that the governance and leadership of GM Moving is distributed widely, and embedded throughout the system. This will further strengthen and sustain the impact of the work, and bring meaningful system change.

"The proportion of people physically active is a proxy for other changes. The key change we’re looking for is that when we talk about physical activity we don't mean sport. So having allotments is as important as a high-end training centre for elite athletes. Physical activity is broader than sport and has more outcomes than physical health. We can only really go by the principles and ways of working".
"GM Moving is part of a longer journey but it's relatively new, and the journey from sport to physical activity is new. That's what we're all aiming for. The question is how do we organise ourselves to deliver that transformation?".
"GM Moving seems to be working for us all. It seems to be broadly owned, as you say. Everyone now seems very enthusiastic. It's motivating GM Active to collaborate further".
"Building a social movement for physical activity is the aim – but will people mobilise around GM Moving or Made to Move? It’ll be interesting to see".

Where Next?

Distributed leadership is critical to the next phase of GM Moving. The ambition, principles, approach and strategic framework are in place so anyone can lead in their own context, be that in councils, health, local communities, workplaces, and people right through the system at every spatial level.
Embedding the belief and advocacy of physical activity across the whole system is fundamental to success. Opportunities to engage and contribute are emerging all the time; cancer, diabetes type 2, pharmacy, mental health, low carbon GM, education, school readiness, dementia, spatial planning, urban design, natural capital.... the list goes on and on.
Leaders across the system are convinced of the role that a more active Greater Manchester can play in achieving the broad ranging outcomes of the Greater Manchester Strategy.

Despite the physical activity and sport sector making strong connections with other services, the prevailing view at the outset was of a service dominated by sport, not connected with the bigger picture of outcomes and scepticism about the benefits. This perception must not be forgotten, and has to be consistently addressed, so that the narrative is about moving more. Physical activity and sport are part of an active life.

Positioning physical activity and sport in the system was central in the devolution of health and social care, through the Taking Charge strategy. This, amongst other things, shifted the focus to prevention. Having people whose background or job is not physical activity and sport as leaders, advocates and champions is essential. It’s a complex system but an endlessly rich one if we explore it through small conversations, build relationships and engage widely.
"Fundamentally we want GM Moving in every locality, in every locality plan, in every neighbourhood model: so it can show itself in all sorts of shapes and forms. For example, The Daily Mile in every school, parkrun [with every community]...."

The movement is growing all the time.

  • How can Greater Manchester realise the potential of real system change?
  • How can we ensure the change addresses, and doesn’t grow, the inequalities across the city region and in localities?
  • How do leaders work in ways that are true to the principles that Greater Manchester has set out, in leading GM Moving and wider reform?

To address these big tests, we are developing our ways of leading, based on our Pointers for Leadership Practice. This will help us to work in ways that will bring about greater change and impact. It will further enable us to live out the principles of public service reform in Greater Manchester, and help us to achieve a shared GM Moving ambition.

‘Lay the road as you journey together’