Active Reach is an Oxfordshire-wide programme focused on areas of greatest need across the county and run through charity partners. Active Reach is designed to support people hit hardest by COVID-19 to improve their health, wellbeing and life chances through the power of physical activity.
Since June 2020, Active Oxfordshire has granted £155,000 of Sport England funding to local charities working in target areas of high deprivation, including Blackbird Leys and parts of Banbury and Abingdon. We have deliberately worked with local organisations and co-ordinators embedded in their communities, who understand their people and place and can achieve the greatest and most lasting impact.
Active Reach was set up to help people most impacted by COVID-19, including those with long-term health conditions, ethnically diverse communities, older people & people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
Active Reach Phase Two
The second phase of Active Reach (AR2) was focused on parts of Banbury and Abingdon to help people in greatest need get active and improve their health, wellbeing and life chances. The key objectives of Phase Two were:
- To address the most critical levels of inactivity and the inequality gap across Oxfordshire, which is set to widen as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
- To create a community-based, collaborative way of working to increase the activity levels of those in the greatest need, supporting physical and mental wellbeing, and life chances.
- Co-designed approach developed cooperatively with system partners and community bodies working with under-represented groups utilising a multi-faceted and place-based approach.
The Impact so far..
To help evaluate the impact of AR2, a Storytelling methodology was used - an evaluation approach led by the Old Fire Station (OFS), which is based on the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique. This process involved collecting the stories of 6 people involved in AR2, including staff, volunteers and participants. OFS story collectors had conversations with these individuals (the storytellers) about their experience of AR2 and what it meant to them.
The stories reflect the impact that the AR2 has had on those involved - people felt a sense of pride, purpose and motivation through taking part; it improved the physical and mental wellbeing of both staff and participants; it helped to foster new connections and relationships both between residents and across partners; it supported new groups and communities who had not previously engaged in physical activities to be active; and it enabled community leaders to put provisions and infrastructures in place so that activities could be sustained long-term.
The stories showed us that the following things were important in enabling this to happen:
- Listening to people on the ground and designing projects together.
- Supporting and trusting residents and volunteers to lead activities and make decisions.
- Recruiting people with existing relationships and connections in the community.
- Involving passionate trainers who were able to inspire and motivate others.
- Being open to new ideas, how they might grow, and where they might lead.
- Thinking long-term about how to embed activities and make them sustainable.
- Focussing on the little things that can make a big difference.
- Recognising that there is diversity within any group; there is no one size fits all.
- Being brave, taking risks and being ok when things fail.
- Being flexible and responding to the needs of different partners and communities.
To read a full copy of the report that shares the key insights and learning please click here.
Alongside this report we also urge you to read the stories, which reflect the impact of AR2 hrough the voices and words of those involved. Please click here