Abbeycroft Leisure was formed in 2005 to manage 2 leisure centres. It has since grown considerably and now manages 8 leisure centres on behalf of West Suffolk Council; a combination of 5 sports centres, gyms, and health and wellbeing centres in Suffolk and Cambridge; along with a sports development and outreach programme for the local communities we operate within.
Suffolk has a rural and urban split which provides Abbeycroft Leisure with interesting and creative opportunities to attract the local community to participate in physical activity.
Abbeycroft Leisure’s mission to ‘Inspire someone to do something that has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing’ is underpinned by our 6 core values:
- Supportive – supporting people to be the best they can be
- Ownership – taking ownership over what we do and ensuring that we do what we said we were going to do
- Caring – care about our role and what we are there to achieve
- Informed – it is our responsibility to remain informed about the service we provide, communicate as much as possible and find out if we don’t know
- Adaptable – adapt to the environment around us so that we can overcome challenges
- Local – to remain at the heart of our community by delivering local services and employment for local peopleb
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Social Impact Statements
The Social Enterprise Mark criteria includes a requirement that the applicant can demonstrate that social and/or environmental objectives are being achieved.
In support of this, new applicants and renewing Mark holders are asked to respond to a set of social impact questions, which are designed to help them think about the social impact they create, and to articulate this clearly and succinctly.
Updated June 2021
1) What social differences and changes have you aimed to create (or supported)?
Abbeycroft Leisure aims to increase the number of physically active people in Suffolk, raising awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, and in so doing increasing the health and wellbeing of local communities we operate within.
By using physical activity in innovative and accessible ways we aim to impact on and influence the following specific areas:
- Supporting inactive people to become active
- Addressing health issues
- Supporting recovery and rehabilitation from injury, illness and/or surgery
- Reducing isolation
- Supporting an increasingly older generation to stay stronger and healthier longer
- Health and Wellbeing prevention agenda
2) What actions have you taken to address the above social aims?
Abbeycroft Leisure operates 15 leisure facilities, ranging from traditional leisure centres to dual use school facilities and yoga and wellbeing centres. We use these facilities to support a range of services beyond the sports, gym and swim activities. These include GP Exercise on Referral Schemes known as ‘Active Living’; Cancer Rehabilitation Swim session; Disability sport sessions; a programme of activities for over 55’s; and Falls Prevention sessions in partnership with the local NHS team.
Alongside the facility based services we run a number of initiatives outside our facilities and with a range of partners such as Public Health, Most Active County, West Suffolk CCG, Midwifery teams and Local and County Councils. These initiatives include:
- Explore Outdoor – working with partners to tackle Holiday Hunger through whole family Initiatives and reducing isolation with food boxes and hampers
- Active Mums™ - raising awareness of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, combing physical activity and education workshops, and midwifery services
- Stand Tall – working with young people to increase resilience and improve mental wellbeing
- Together Tuesdays – supporting families living with Dementia to live well together
A Stakeholder Forum advocates to influence and lever opportunities to develop new and existing work, increasing our impact and reach.
We have developed partnerships with the health sector to deliver physical activity as part of their prevention agenda and strategies, and through existing work are able to show a positive track record for successful delivery of initiatives. This work has been further developed to help tackle long waiting lists and to support those in recovery from ill-health.
3) What has changed and what benefits have been realised as a result of your actions?
The local communities we operate within have benefited from our services in the following ways:
- Investment in Newmarket Leisure Centre; a new gym, the introduction of e-gym, improved reception area and café, and soft play, offers a broader range of services and increased accessibility
- Investment in Brandon Leisure Centre: a new gym, improved Strength Room, new treatment room spaces for GPs and community-based services
- Social Prescribing Link Workers operate out of our facilities providing support to those in need
- Explore Outdoor began tackling holiday hunger, providing opportunities for families to cook together, take part in outdoor activities together, and receive recipe cards and food boxes with ingredients for 5 meals for 4 people.
Individuals have benefited from our services in the following ways:
- Young people attending our Stand Tall programme told us that on leaving the course:
- 77% felt more confident about managing their health & wellbeing
- 85% told us participating in physical activity each week had a positive impact on them
- 82% felt able to take more control over their own wellbeing
- Co-designing services to ensure they are fit for purpose, meet the need and are effective in making a difference
- In 2020/21 Explore Outdoor engaged 1,005 families, provided 1,772 adventure days and over 20,000 individual meals, making a real difference to local people.
- The introduction of Abbeycroft @ Home meant people could keep active via live streamed classes via a new app, helping to keep people active during Lockdown
- A virtual exercise programme remains available for those that are not able to leave their home to take part, allowing more people to stay active and well
Stakeholders have benefited from our services in the following ways:
- Increase in number of people physically active in West Suffolk
- Cost Savings to NHS
- Contributing to countywide and national outcomes and strategies by aligning our work with stakeholder objectives
4) How do you and other people know your aims are being achieved? Or how will you know?
There is a framework in place that is used to create a logic model at the outset of any project design. This is then used to create surveys and baseline data in order to monitor, evaluate and report on changes that occur. These are usually reviewed on a six monthly basis and used in our annual reporting. The changes recorded are also explained to staff to encourage buy in with the process of recording data, but also to develop their awareness of the differences they are making through their day to day work.
We currently produce an impact report alongside our annual report which is a visual booklet that highlights specific projects and the impact they have made on participants. It also highlights our partners, who and how we have worked with organisations, case studies, feedback and outputs. This is distributed to stakeholders and staff.
An Inspire Card raises funds to support health and wellbeing initiatives, this is used as a mechanism for communicating with the public and customers about how the monies raised from this are used and how these initiatives have made a difference.
The below questions are not mandatory, but Mark holders are encouraged to answer them where possible, to provide a fuller account of their social outcomes and the social value they create.
5) How many people have benefitted from your actions?
- 14,546 – Individuals using facilities for swim, gym, classes in West Suffolk creating £719,982 social value
- 15,274 – Individuals accessing health and wellbeing initiatives
6) What examples can you provide of a typical service user experience, that helps illustrate the benefits they have experienced as a result of your actions?
Together During Lockdown
“My wife and I are shielding. My mood has been very low as I am shielding and we are profoundly deaf. On the screen I can see people’s faces and read their lips. It’s really good to see other people and have a laugh together” attendee
“I like to do this on zoom. I feel safe from any COVID and you are the only person to see me exercise which I really like because I am very self-conscious” Member
“I especially look forward to the daily exercise sessions. They help my rusty old joints and it helps my mental wellbeing. I care for my husband living with dementia and the exercise sessions give me a focus when I can switch off from being a Carer and take Care of me” Member & Carer
Family Park Cooking and Adventure Days
“I collected the food and activity pack and the fresh hamper was fantastic. All 3 children took it in turns to help with cooking the different recipes. They all helped make the bird box (which they have donated to grandad to hang in his tree), and the nature hunts got us all out of the house for a bit of fresh air. We really appreciate the help with the meals as although there may be other food donations from groups they are mainly tinned food. Having fresh vegetables feels so much healthier.” – Stowmarket Family
“Saved money for the week on meals and we bonded and had fun making the meals and have continued to use the recipes since.” – Bury St Edmunds Family
“Today I attended the family cooking day with my 3 children in Haverhill, which Claire was running. We all had the best day!
Claire was so good with all the children and knowledgeable about all things forestry and kept us busy all day, involving parents as well as children. We played fun games, poo sticks, climbed trees and orienteering. We each had a go at making our own fire which my children loved! We learnt to cook a good hearty meal with flatbread on the fire and for 3 fussy eaters, it was delicious!
I would recommend anyone with young children to take part in these activities being run they are so much fun as well as educational and it helps having amazing staff to run them”.
7) What additional social benefits have you been able to deliver within your core services that distinguish you from other “for shareholder profit” providers?
- We provide free online exercise classes via our app
- We provide an Exercise on Referral scheme at our own cost
- We have continued to run Keep Active sessions specifically for over 55s and embed them into our core services when the funding ran out
- We provide a number of health initiatives at our own cost and these include cancer rehabilitation swimming; men’s health circuit classes, combined physio and physical activity sessions for children and their families
- We provide complimentary memberships for a range of people who could benefit from being active, but do not necessarily have the means to do so, including social prescribing clients and young people preparing to leave the care system
- We provide low cost recipe cards online for affordable family meals
- We invest in providing free qualifications for students, with a view to equipping the next generation workforce with suitable workplace skills beyond their college qualifications.
Our ethos is such that collaborative and partnership working is at the heart of everything we do, in order to meet identified needs, and our strategic outcomes. This differs from ‘for shareholder providers’ as it means not being protective over potential opportunities, being truly open and transparent about solutions and capacity. Sharing resources to deliver outcomes for the greater good of the community rather than for Abbeycroft Leisure.
8) What other social benefits have you contributed that go beyond your core delivery activities (ones that are completely unrelated to your main services)?
Abbeycroft Leisure was able to partner with its NHS Local Integrated Neighbourhood Teams and provide furloughed staff with volunteering opportunities to support the extra demand the healthcare teams were experiencing, which helped to release the community nurses to spend more time with patients.