Our aim



To get more people moving and tackle inequalities across Greater Manchester, we all need to think, work and behave differently; just doing what we’ve done before won’t be enough. Individuals need to be supported and enabled to lead, influencing the people around them to consider how they can get more people to lead an active life.

What have we done?

Over the last 12 months, our focus has been on supporting the development of people across Greater Manchester as they navigate leading within complex and regularly shifting systems in their community, borough and city-region. We have strengthened our relationships with community organisations and therefore gained a greater insight into how they can support people at a local level. We brokered relationships and adapted our ways of working to establish greater opportunities for individuals to develop and support people to be active in their place. The changes in our work happened because we adopted a more digital way of working, working in partnership, influencing others and developing the GreaterSport team.

Use of digital
With the Covid pandemic altering how people consume information from workshops and access support for their personal development over the last 18 months, we have how we facilitate and engage people in development opportunities. The GM Moving conference went fully digital for the first time, with 287 people attending a day of workshops, guest speakers and panel interviews. Our system leadership approach shifted from face- to- face to providing a broad range of opportunities across a digital platform to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the people in the system to work in complex and challenging environments, influence change and establish relationships.

We recognised the importance of working with other organisations to stretch our workforce capacity and reach more people. Through our work with the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations in localities, we connected the traditional providers of movement, physical activity and sport (sports clubs and groups) to a new support mechanism. This ensures the volunteers and paid workforce are receiving the assistance to put in place the structures so their clubs, organisations and groups continue to provide an offer to the broadest possible audience in welcoming and fun environments.

We invested in, and supported, GM Active to create training for their staff to feel confident about working in a changing landscape where system change, and system delivery is becoming increasingly important. The developed approach is considered as sector defining, with further opportunities to expand the work becoming available.

Our system leadership approach working with MACC, AQUA and Do Well has supported 166 people from 73 organisations to understand the challenges of working in, and leading, complex systems. It has also created a community of understanding and learning across Greater Manchester with peer support and coaching sessions evolving from the sessions.

We convened several conversations across the system to join networks, explore opportunities and share learning. We attended national community of learning sessions with Sport England and other Local Pilot areas to share our experiences and help shape the next iteration of the approach. We supported and led national conversations with Active Partnership colleagues to outline how we contribute to the Sport England’s new strategy ‘Uniting the Movement’, and members of our team have written blogs and been part of podcasts providing insight and stories about a range of topics from tackling racism in sport and physical activity to mental wellbeing support.

Much focus was given to our GreaterSport team as we continue to shift towards a strategic organisation that convenes, facilitates and, when needed, leads system conversations. Alongside the opportunities presented by the system leadership approach, we established a pool of coaches who can work alongside individuals and give them the 1:1 support they require to build confidence in the system work. We created spaces for members of the organisation to come together and discuss learning through action learning sets and continued to offer individual development bursaries for every member of the organisation so they can continue to develop and grow.

Case Study: Developing a system leadership approach

Over the course of the last year, we have developed a system leadership approach working alongside MACC, Do-Well and AQUA. The aim is to support people explore ‘leading within the complexity of system change’ whilst also offering individual development with a mixture of coaching and mentoring opportunities. The workshops explored over the 12 months were:

  • Values and Leadership
  • Values and Story Telling
  • Introduction to Systems Leadership
  • Public Narrative
  • Systems Leadership Behaviours

We delivered these workshops over various digital platforms due to the Covid-19 lockdown. We had to learn and adapt quickly to create supportive and engaging learning environments through laptop screens, with participants and workshop leads maximising the functionality of a digital environment to generate dynamic, exploratory and questioning conversations. We also involved those working in complex systems to help design the topics of the workshops, using their insight to shape the content to ensure we were meeting the needs they identified to continue to be able to grow and develop.

The need to shift to a digital format, whilst losing some of the camaraderie you may get from being in a physical space with people, increased the reach of the people who attended the workshops. They saw our workshops as a safe space to share their anxieties and fears about their work and also celebrate their successes and achievements. Over the 12 months, we formed new relationships with different parts of the Greater Manchester system and the beginnings of a learning community was created, built on trust and shared values. These foundations will support the future development of the work.

Further details

For more information on our workforce priority please contact claire@greatersport.co.uk.