Leading Change In Southampton: Turning Up the Dial Towards a City that Moves More

Date: 30 May 2024   Author: Energise Me

This piece of work will bring organisations and communities across Southampton together. With the hopes of creating meaningful and long-term change in people's perceptions and behaviours linked to sport and physical activity.

Systems leadership training, funded by Sport England in partnership with the Local Government Association, arose from identifying Southampton as one of the top 10% of inactive places in the country.

On the 8th and 9th of May 2024, Energise Me brought together a group of stakeholders from across Southampton, hoping to find a common purpose to tackle inactivity.

Sport England’s new approach, tailored to the specific needs of communities, seeks a new dawn for physical activity interventions. Having joined the Energise Me team in early April to work on the place expansion project, Lee wants to shed light on the journey so far.

It’s been really good to connect with lots of different organisations and feel the sense of collaboration and will to make positive changes in Southampton.

Zoe Banks-Gross, Sustrans

Where Did This Work Come From?

In November 2023, Sport England announced a major expansion of their investment into local communities across England. As part of their strategy, Uniting The Movement, Sport England will invest over £190 million across 80 to 100 places in England over the next five years. This work will help ensure that those in greatest need are able to be physically active.

What is Energise Me's Role?

Energise Me’s role is to be the connector between Sport England and the local community. We’ve already begun and will continue to provide spaces for people and groups to share their thoughts about what is best for the communities in Southampton. And we will help shape the change with you. 

Joining The Team

In December 2023, Energise Me held a workshop with local stakeholders in Southampton. Here, we announced that the city was one of the 80 places selected for Sport England investment to tackle inactivity. This led to my recruitment (Lee Timothy as Place Development Lead) in April 2024.

With a focus on Southampton and the Landport area of Portsmouth, I began this role by continuing initial meetings with organisations and community groups in both cities.

I am enjoying engaging with the local community and learning about the context and issues that make up both places. It’s helping me to understand what interventions people would want and how they could best be supported to start moving. This has involved meeting a range of small volunteer-led organisations, charities, and public sector departments.

I really, really appreciate the time to sit with like-minded people, people with a passion and interest to, cliché, unite the movement, but people who’ve got lots of experiences about a whole different sectors across the city all coming together, having an opportunity to share their voice and to be heard and for us to think about how we can work together.

Dominic Cunliffe, Solent University

What I've Learnt So Far

What has been really clear is the appetite for interventions. However, there’s a cautiousness for organisations to get actively involved until they are sure of the type and level of support they will receive that meets the needs of their communities.

It’s also worth noting that there is a lot of great work going on in both cities, spearheaded by excellent leaders! (More sharing of their specific work and projects is to come!) We are working on building these relationships now. A key theme from the training earlier this month was around building trust to gain buy-in from community organisations and the public.

Systems Leadership Training

Hosted in one of Southampton’s priority places, Thornhill, 20 leaders from across Southampton assembled for 2 days of Systems Leadership training. This was led by Claire Beney and Gareth Dix to:

  • Establish new connections
  • Find common ground
  • Build on the amazing project each organisation delivers in the city.

It's been a really brilliant couple of days. I'm really impressed with everyone in the room, commitment, energy, passion, and engagement with the topic. There's a load of willingness to collaborate.

Claire Beney, Facilitator

Day One

After some time discussing individual projects and leaders’ ability to step away from the “Dancefloor and onto the Balcony,” we began conversations around the whole system approach to change (The Socio-Ecological Model). Then we considered HOW we could do this in the context of Southampton.

Hearing from Millbrook Matters community group brought this local context to life. Co-Founder, Tracy Emm, spoke passionately about how much she loves her neighbourhood and what change in the area would make a positive impact.

Day Two

With Tracy’s comments firmly planted in our ears, we started day two by beginning to develop a shared purpose – combining the goals of each organisation in the room. Time was then spent mapping our connections and assets in the city to align our purpose with the people and places who live there, so that we can best help the city towards becoming more active.

It was incredible to see the open collaboration of people in the room, the hearty drive of the leaders, and a real appreciation for the strengths of Southampton!

For me, it was just an eye-opener about the amount of work and exciting things going on in the community and potential for change there is.

Marin De Sousa, University Hospital of Southampton

Final Thoughts

A huge thank you to Claire Beney and Gareth Dix for facilitating two insightful days of training. It provided a space for excellent discussions to drive the Place-Expansion project forwards.

Also, a big thanks to all attendees for making the time to participate in the training. This huge collaborative approach combines the worlds of education, health, public sector, voluntary sector, and community groups from across the city.

Want To Get Involved?

However, we know there are more great organisations that could positively contribute to this work. So, if you are one of those people or organisations in Southampton or Portsmouth, please reach out to me directly at lee.timothy@energiseme.org .

Next up is the Portsmouth training – Leading change in Landport in July 2024.

Very informative. You know what I found fascinating? What we want in Millbrook, they want in their areas. It’s nice to know that we’re not alone in what we want.

Tracy Emm, Millbrook Matters

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