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 April 2019
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
- 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 19 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:
- Make your Move – a physical activity and employability skills course for NEETs
- 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
- Keep Active – delivered in care home settings taking light physical activity sessions to older people
- Together Tuesdays – supporting families to live well together
We have developed a Stakeholder Forum where we work with advocates to influence and lever opportunities to develop and extend our work and our reach. This has led to a number of funding allocations being released. An example of this is with Active Mums™ a programme working with expectant ladies with a high BMI to reduce risks of pregnancy and childbirth, and encourage the adoption of a healthier lifestyle. This programme also reduces isolation and tackles smoking issues and is currently being rolled out in new areas across the county and has seen cost savings for the NHS as the number of caesareans amongst participants is much lower than those not attending.
One facility has recently won awards for its dementia friendly work ‘Together Tuesdays’ and this is something we are looking at rolling out across all facilities in order to increase accessibility.
We have also invested time in understanding the health sector and local partnerships and networks in order to be positioned as a key partner in the delivery of 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.
An Explore Outdoor programme works with schools and community events to offer outdoor physical activities that also supports increased classroom engagement.
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 Haverhill leisure centre; a new gym, yoga and wellbeing facility; kids play and clip and climb frames offers a broader range of services and increased accessibility
- Park Run and Great Run Locals have been introduced to local communities with support and investment from Abbeycroft Leisure, offering free access to group running
- 7 mass participation events were delivered in 6 different communities – raising £8900 for local charities
- Young people now have a place to spend time at new Teen Chill Out sessions, after other services withdrawing from the communities. This also aims to have an impact on reducing anti-social behaviour, helping communities to feel safer.
Individuals have benefited from our services in the following ways:
- 5 people moved into employment after completing Make Your Move in 2017/18, with 100% of participants feeling more motivated and more confident about getting a job, as well as feeling as though they left the course with useful tools to help them to get a job
- People attending our GP Exercise on Referral Programme ‘Active Living’ reduced their reliance upon support services by 16% on average, with a positive impact being made on people’s feelings of worthwhile, happiness, life satisfaction and anxiety levels
- Co-designing services to ensure they are fit for purpose, meet the need and are effective in making a difference
- The introduction of an Inspire Card gives customers a £1 discount on most activities in our centres
- More opportunities to get involved with activity challenges via our app
- Increased opportunities to access a range of services in order to engage with those that may not otherwise visit a leisure centre and/or engage in physical activity
Stakeholders have benefited from our services in the following ways:
- Increase in number of people physically active in West Suffolk
- Cost Savings to NHS
- Enhancing County Reputation through high quality delivery of events
- Contributing to their outcomes and strategies by aligning our work with their 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.
After introducing an Inspire Card which raises funds to support health and wellbeing initiatives, our plan is to use this 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. This will take place through facility based promotion; social media and newsletters.
A system called DataHub has been introduced. Once this is working fully, it will produce a social value (£) for users of our facilities, focusing on Health; Wellbeing; Education; and Crime. This will be used to demonstrate the positive impact being made on the communities we operate in.
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
- Active Mums™ – 80 ladies have been through the programme, experiencing benefits for themselves and their new born babies as stated below. The benefits have extended to whole families where healthier eating has been introduced, partners have quit smoking, and activities that involved being active have been introduced.
- Cost saving of £9,324 to the NHS based on 90% of 10 women having vaginal delivery, compared to the national average of 16% (maternity statistics 2018). The programme saw an average birthweight of babies being 3.635kg which is in line with the national average. For these ladies who have a high BMI this is a positive outcome. Average weight gain during pregnancy was 7.36kg which is a positive result with the expected weight gain being 10 – 12.5kg (NHS, 2011).
We are currently monitoring changes in levels of wellbeing, however results are not ready for collation at this point.
Make your Move – 16 young people (18-25yrs) completed the course and 5 people moved into employment. The 16 people that completed the course saw…
- 13% increase in sense of wellbeing
- 9% increase in confidence in job skills in general
- 14% increase in confidence in CV writing.
All participants stated…
- they felt more motivated at the end of the course
- left feeling more confident about getting a job
Active Living – 771 people went through the scheme last year. There was an average improvement in:
- feeling worthwhile by 16%
- feelings of happiness by 15%
- feeling satisfied with life by 15%
- reduced anxiety levels by 4%
663 (86%) people remained active and moved into a membership, the effect of remaining active includes reduced long term conditions (or risk of), increased wellbeing, and reduced isolation.
Keep Active – 907 people went through the scheme last year, of these 185 were aged 14 – 25 yrs, and 722 were over 55yrs. The main outcomes for these participants is experiencing reduced isolation and increased strength and balance / activity levels.
12 students at West Suffolk College received 150 hours of work placements, and gained the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification. 5 of these moved into employment with Abbeycroft Leisure.
9 Apprentices were recruited and 3 of these moved into further employment with Abbeycroft Leisure.
We operate services and facilities in 19 locations across Suffolk, with one being in Cambridge. Predominantly serving the community of West Suffolk and Babergh District Council.
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?
Active Mums™ feedback:
At Active Mums™, ladies experience a supportive and non-judgemental environment. Working with small group’s means the facilitator can deliver a tailored approach. Time is always available to the ladies to have 1:1 conversations and no question is out of bounds or trivial. The ladies in this feedback attended weekly sessions throughout their pregnancy, where they were able to take part in light exercise, discuss topics relating to healthy lifestyles, birth, and babies, as well as receive their antenatal care in the same session.
Make your Move case study:
The young people attended Make your Move for 12 sessions over 4 weeks. They were offered support to enable them to attend the course, and were supported to apply for jobs during and upon completion of the course. The facilitators were able to provide an environment in which the generic course content was delivered but making it personal for each participant.
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 swimming sessions for under 16’s and over 60’s on a weekly basis
- 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 invest in setting up local community groups such as Park Run and the Great Local Run
Investment in providing free qualifications for students, with a view to equipping the next generation workforce with suitable workplace skills beyond the college qualifications.
Our ethos is such that collaborative and partnership working is at the heart of everything we do, as long as it meets the needs identified and contributes to the bigger picture and broader 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 raised and donated £8,900 to charity last year through site fundraising and events for charity.