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By GM Moving Partners | 27 July 2022 | TAGS: disability, Inclusion

Last Friday saw the first of the GM Moving Partners Commitment to Inclusion visit days, with a fantastic learning and sharing event with Active Tameside. Colleagues from across Greater Manchester: Wigan, Bolton, Salford, Glossop and Stockport, from leisure providers, social enterprise, charities, adult and children’s services and local authority leisure all in attendance.

The session was designed for up to 20 people to showcase inclusion services and provide real life experiences and challenges in utilising conversional leisure services as the engagement tool to address social and health inequalities. It also held the purpose of sharing a nationally recognised example of the work Greater Manchester is doing to Pivot to Wellbeing. The event was for senior leaders in organisations that are committed to becoming more inclusive strategically across their boroughs. The organising group were delighted with the response, with the event filling up quickly and people committing to spend their whole day together.

Dan Higgins, Head of Health and Social Outcomes, Active Tameside opened up the session with an explanation of how their work around inclusion, “Everybody Can” started… with an ask from the local parent and carer forum who wanted their kids to do what ‘other’ kids do- cycling, swimming, trampolining and multi-sports. He then explained how the approach has developed over time, grew and has developed, becoming part of Active Tameside’s DNA.

Dan was joined by a panel who brought to life the journey they had been on together and what they had learnt along the way: Shaun Higgins, Director of Health and Social Outcomes, Active Tameside Sheen Wooding, Partnership Manager, Active Tameside, Elaine Healy, Our Kids Eyes (OKE), Parents Forum, Lynne Barnett, Partnership Manager - ISCAN (Integrated Services for Children with Additional Needs), Tameside Council Lorraine Hopkins, Head of Service – Early Help, Neighbourhoods, Early Years Service, Tameside Council.

Hayley Lever, Exec Lead GM Moving and CEO, GreaterSport ran a live twitter thread of the morning’s conversation, noticing some of the key points as she listened to the panel:

  • It’s about listening to parent, carer and community voice.
  • Developing strong relationships.
  • Supportive workforce development.
  • Pandemic accelerated actions for collaborative working. The team were already thinking differently, but this enabled change to happen more quickly.
  • Strategic leadership and commitment: being supported and recognised as a health and wellbeing organisation.
  • Services and the organisation being designed by Tameside people, for Tameside people - growing the capability, skills and qualities of local people – building on strengths
  • Person centred, holistic approaches.
  • Attention to detail.
  • There is a need to take risks and develop a safe space to test and learn.
  • Recognition of the relationship between healthy eating and activity.
  • The value of jointly appointed roles across Tameside Council and Active Tameside
  • Shining a light on what works- award winning service, raises the profile of the work and helps illuminate good practice.
  • Work with your clubs and support them to access funding, so they can grow their capacity too- such as the Tackling Inequalities funds.
  • Permission has been key. As have ring fenced pots of funding as leverage to prioritise disabled young people.
  • Political permission to straddle two worlds has been important. Then the planets aligned…

Hayley reflected: as always, it’s about shared purpose and people power. Once you have shared purpose and some ‘spark plug’ people, everything flows towards it:

“We’ve grown our workforce, supported them and they are now engaging and supporting the community sector too”

Panellists reflect that it’s not been an easy journey. Changing hearts and minds, building trust, developing skills of staff and being open to build trust. But also, that once you’ve worked in this field, you’ll never want to do anything else! It was fascinating to hear how the service has reduced costs, and the learning about how young adults can support other young people with complex needs.

“It’s been the best outcome for the kids- love it, stay at home and in the community. They’re having a ball”.

An important question to consider was where to start, given that different places had different contexts and leadership in place, and there were 4 key messages:

  1. Start small and build/grow from there.
  2. Engage with/use parent voice as a lever for change. If there is no parent/carer group locally, you could start by building relationships with schools for children with additional needs.
  3. Listen to the voice of the child.
  4. Link it back to the cost savings.

“All these things will change hearts and minds”.

The group enjoyed a tour around the centre and joined some dancing and a conga with a group that was full of joy, loving some fantastic disco tunes. After a bite to eat and time to talk about what they had seen and heard so far, the group then took a tour of Denton Wellness Centre, which had been due to open just before the pandemic and is now buzzing.

Again, Hayley shared the visit through another Twitter thread before the group enjoyed a trial of the bowling alley.

Reflections and Learning

The final part of the day was to reflect on learning and capture some personal next steps and actions. We’ve captured a few below:

The most valuable things from the day?

  • Inclusion designed into buildings from the start. Community provision designed in from the start and the way the steps are also doubling up as seating, all the low-level counters.
  • A systems approach where people are working together to design for the needs of the whole population.
  • The need for senior/strategic leadership buy-in. How do you get that?
    • Start with parent-led/person-led conversations. Then can say things that no other professional can. They can tell people how it is- which it’s harder for people to do within their own organisation. Parents will bring elected members/MP’s in.
    • Bring the personal and professional together – we all have disabled family and friends and people who live with long term conditions. Bring our own lived experience to the work.
    • Show how this is a cost-saving approach.
  • Seeing and hearing from different parts of the system (in the morning)
  • Listening to people about how it all came together.
  • Relationship building and networking
  • To be able to showcase and support others – and also to learn from others- always room to improve- e.g., conversations about HAF as we can share and develop together
  • Good to see all of what Active Tameside do- and see what’s going on around the rest of Greater Manchester too- beyond our neighbouring authorities
  • Having conversations with people we haven’t met before.
  • Good to see Denton- beyond leisure, catering for so many different demographics
  • Really useful seeing how it started, how it came about. How it started with parents and children and built from the ground up.
  • Interesting conversation about where the savings are made- invest in one part of the system and savings come elsewhere.
  • Creating a new customer base with free passes etc. Free access to a room, because they will then come bowling, spend money in the café etc.
  • A taste of utopia. How you sell it to people.
  • Everything is accessible but not so as you would notice- it feels normal, not ‘special’

Anything to implement into your own organisation?

  • If it works? All of it!
  • Inclusivity has always been key. As we integrate with leisure services- making sure how we make sure that’s really inclusive.
  • Being able to point to places within GM that are doing things- to show it’s possible.
  • Thinking beyond segregated sessions- more integrated sessions that are clearly inclusive and open to carers and others who want to access that type of provision.
  • The Pool Pod- less embarrassing than using a hoist, and portable steps/gradual steps, which take up so much room.
  • Training and other ways to build staff confidence – eg autism awareness, then working with groups to build confidence.
  • Use of rooms for other services- go back with examples of what happens here.
  • Look at the dead space and see what would work in it.
  • How can we sell this approach in our area.
  • If you are doing a refurb, just design it in. When things are made accessible

What support might you need to do this effectively?

  • People to step forward and self-organise, supported by GreaterSport (admin and promotion)
  • Training and the right contacts to provide different activities
  • Funding to resource the work
  • Understanding how personal budgets work in practice- how many people really understand this?
  • Liaison between boroughs and showing it to each other.
  • Measuring impact.

Is there anything else you would have liked to have seen or learnt about today? Or anything that could have been improved?

  • Be good to see data about engagement and the demographics within that
  • How services meet their costs- and how that return on investment comes (invest to save examples)
  • Are there any before and after examples

Following this reflection session, participants went to enjoy the weekend with ideas and energy for their own work.

Find the Active Tameside presentation slides here.

What's coming up?

The next visit in this series is being hosted by Seashell Active on Wednesday 10th August. Again, numbers are limited so the visit isn’t disruptive to the activities on offer. For more information and to book, click here

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