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PfP uses NBS to boost participation in deprived areas

Places for People Leisure (PfP) is using Sport England’s National Benchmarking Service (NBS) alongside clever tactics to increase participation in deprived areas across its Rotherham contract, with some impressive results.

Wath, Aston North, Rotherham West and Maltby East have all been identified as areas of deprivation and sit within a mile radius of four PfP leisure centres.

Mark Rawding, Rotherham contract manager for PfP explains: “Using the NBS on a local scale allows us to gain an understanding of current levels of participation, and in turn use this data to devise a plan to ‘enable’ hard to reach target groups. It’s all part of our overall goal to create active places and healthy people.”

The centres have also used the NBS to help gain additional funding for projects. “Within the NBS results our Sports Development Manager identified that Rotherham achieved a low score for increasing participants in Social Class 6 & 7,” continues Rawding. “So we conducted a postcode analysis on a recognised area of deprivation locally to show exactly how many residents were taking part in our core sports programmes. We presented that alongside an action plan, which resulted in £6,000 funding from Sportivate towards activity in the community.”

As the NBS can identify exact participation in the community surrounding each leisure centre, PfP can accurately target activities and so used the money to run a variety of free sessions including music-based movement classes for children, tennis sessions to engage teenagers, boot camp sessions for females and the over 50s and Bollywood Dancing for BME women.

“We created a link with a local United Multi-Cultural Group, which aims to generate participation opportunities for those facing religious or cultural barriers and conducted two lots of eight-week dance classes, signposting participants back to the same session with the same instructor at a discounted rate within our centre,” states Rawding. “As a result we activated 27 BME families in an area of deprivation, improved our internal stats on Social Class 6 & 7 participation and now expect to increase our NBS score in both areas.”

As the NBS identified Aston was low on participation of young children, the team conducted music-based movement sessions for 18 month to four-and-a-half-year-olds in a local Sure Start hall, based in a recognised area of deprivation. Similar to the Bollywood classes, the programme activated 32 families and to date eight of those have been signposted back into sessions within the leisure centre.

Having been identified as scoring low in disability participation, both Rotherham Leisure Complex and Maltby Leisure Centre delivered Aspire’s Instructability programme, where disabled participants are upskilled with a Fitness Instructor Level 1 and Community Engagement qualification, followed by a 12 week work placement on site. “The idea is that during this time they become a catalyst in driving participation amongst the disabled community and our participants have each introduced more than 10 new disabled people to physical activity. One has now gone on to become an employed fitness instructor with another leisure provider. It’s been a huge success and we hope to run this programme again next year,” says Rawding.

“We operate in an area of high deprivation. In Rotherham 42 per cent of the population live in deprivation and in Maltby this increases to 51.6 per cent, and yet, across our two most popular activities, we have managed to increase this sector’s participation.”

Following a ‘This Girl Can Swim’ pilot in partnership with Sport England, which was secured after the NBS identified a low score for female participation, all four leisure centres are now heading towards the NBS top quartile for female participation. This Girl Can Squash and This Girl Can Pedal have also been launched, whilst This Girl Can Swim is now a permanent fixture.

He concludes: “The NBS is a fantastic tool for reporting, planning and measuring our outcomes and impact. By comparing internal and national data we can identify local trends and create efficient activities to target the inactive. The results we are seeing are great evidence of this and without the NBS this wouldn’t be possible.”

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Company Details
Leisure-net Solutions Ltd
Leisure-net Solutions is the leading provider of Customer Insight, Business Intelligence and Consultation services to the active leisure, fitness and cultural services industries. Leisure-net's work helps leading industry organisations, local authorities and trusts, as well as private sector operators and suppliers, to understand their customers’ and clients’ needs and aspirations, and to deliver innovative service and health improvement initiatives.
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Places for People Leisure (PfP) is using Sport England’s National Benchmarking Service (NBS) alongside clever tactics to increase participation in deprived areas across its Rotherham contract
Sport England's National Benchmarking Service can be used to gain addition funding for projects

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