Richmond Group of Health Charities partner with Sport England
Sport England have launched their partnership with some of the leading health and social care charities in the country to form a unique collaboration to help people with long-term health conditions get active. They have awarded £1.3 million of National Lottery funding to projects to be delivered by Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, Diabetes UK, MS Society, Rethink Mental Illness, and Stroke Association – all part of the Richmond Group of Health Charities (RGC). They are also in discussion with Arthritis Research UK and Asthma UK.
People with long-term health conditions are almost two-times more likely to be inactive as the rest of the population. 18 million people in the UK suffer from at least one health condition. Sport England have chosen to work with the RGC as a collective (rather than only selecting one or two charities) as 15-30% of the population live with two or more long-term conditions and there is a growing consensus that they need to focus on the person and how the conditions affect them (people’s lived experience) and what can be done to help them (person centred-approach) rather than the condition that the person has.
This is one of our major tactics to decrease inactivity. Through this work, they seek to learn more about how we effectively reach and change the behaviour of this audience, by testing a range of interventions and messages with expert partners.
Bringing physical activity to the forefront
When diagnosed with a health condition, millions of people rely on the trusted expertise of charities such as MS Society, Breast Cancer Now etc. to help manage their condition or symptoms. Millions more family members and their carers seek advice, wanting to know how they can support their loved one to help them live as well as possible and for as long as possible. These charities have over 21 million contacts per year so the potential for them to promote or provide physical activity at scale is significant. This could take many forms from lobbying for physical activity services, investing directly themselves or incorporating physical activity related content through their information and advice services.
What Sport England does know, from their previous work with Macmillan, British Lung Foundation and Mind, is that incorporating physical activity advice has to be done sensitively and at the right moment, with the most effective message and delivered by the most appropriate person. The charities are seeking to explore this through a variety of projects which vary from charity to charity but are transferable (in terms of their possible replicability by other RGC members or learning). For example, some projects will be focusing on providing better practical support, advice and guidance on how to be active such as a telephone health coaching service, new guides, or offering activity within peer-to-peer support group sessions. Others will conduct more research into what prevents people from being active regularly, so more appropriate support can be given.
As well as the individual projects, they are also exploring how the charities in the Richmond Group could talk about physical activity together for greater impact. They know there are some common barriers that align many health conditions from previously commissioned insight work and there is an exciting opportunity here to develop and agree some lead messages and multiple supporting messages that reflect their shared agenda in physical activity that resonate with the charities’ target audiences.
Age UK will reach out to older people who are not physically active at the moment to understand what would help them to change this. The insights gained will inform our future communications and support. Age UK will also lead in developing ways of measuring the effectiveness of these projects, and of the wider Richmond Group physical activity programme, “Movement for All”.
Alzheimer’s Society will develop a Dementia Friendly Guide that will provide the physical activity (sport and leisure) sector with resources and knowledge to enable their organisations, services and facilities to become more ‘dementia friendly’ and support more people living with dementia to become physically active.
Breast Cancer Now will gather insight by speaking to women who have had a breast cancer diagnosis, who are over 55 years old and who are not physically active, in order to understand their attitudes towards physical activity and what action we can take to support them to become more active.
British Lung Foundation will develop, test and evaluate a telephone health coaching service to support and empower people living with lung conditions to become and stay active.
Diabetes UK will help us to understand the evidence related to physical activity and clinical diabetes outcomes (type 1 and type 2) and prevention of Type 2 diabetes. It will also help us to understand the barriers that prevent people with diabetes from being more active.
MS Society will encourage people with MS to become more physically active and inspire long-term behaviour change by testing motivational telephone coaching and personalised text support.
Rethink Mental Illness seeks to understand if the barriers that prevent people severely affected by mental illness from engaging in physical activity can be overcome by embedding physical activity into peer-to-peer support groups.
Stroke Association seeks to explore the role of peer-to-peer support groups in increasing and maintaining levels of physical activity amongst stroke survivors for the improvement of well-being, better self-management and secondary stroke prevention.