Skip to content

Doing it differently in Doncaster

As we celebrate the work done in the past four years by our 12 local delivery pilots, Doncaster's Jodie Bridger talks through their pilot's journey to date.

17th February 2021

by Jodie Bridger
Local delivery pilot programme manager, Get Doncaster Moving

As a child, I had everything I needed, but rarely got everything I wanted.

I had a comfortable and warm home, a bedroom of my own, and a good night’s sleep was never a problem.

I had three meals a day without question; breakfast set me up well for the walk around the corner to school, where I arrived ready to learn and play.

A close up of the head of a hockey stick on a hockey ball - on a blue hockey pitch

Whatever the weather, I was always playing out in the garden or on the street. I loved running around and playing games, and the relentless support from family, teachers and friends helped me to access my local hockey club, where I still play now 20 years on.

This gave me opportunities to develop my character, push myself out of my comfort zone, build lifelong friendships and to broaden my horizons along the way.

Addressing inequalities

My childhood journey into sport and activity wasn’t particularly exciting or unique, but I believe it was a privileged journey because the environment around me meant that I never had to struggle or fight for a healthy, happy and active childhood.

My engagement and enjoyment of activity was not just down to my motivation alone; there were many visible, and invisible, others playing a leading and supportive role in shaping the places, spaces, people and experiences that I encountered.

Meanwhile, children who lived just a few streets away from me had comparatively limited opportunity and it felt that often their chances to engage in or enjoy activity were restricted.

Many years on, those inequalities still exist in society today, despite a range of well-intentioned projects and programmes that are designed and delivered to tackle them. The traditional sport and activity sector has been great at supporting me, but after all this time, it is still not giving everyone an equal chance to take part.

It’s time to do something different – but where do we start?

When I first joined the Doncaster local delivery pilot, there was already a compelling vision and ambition to tackle the stubborn inequalities in health and wellbeing. Things were already happening to lay the foundations for change, for example:

  • Our director of public health supported a culture underpinned by three values – learn by doing, make the invisible visible, and relentless kindness.
  • ‘Well Doncaster’ had started in one of our communities, testing and learning an asset-based community development approach to health and wealth.
  • Doncaster Active Travel Alliance had formed – a multi-agency partnership to promote collaborative working across provision, infrastructure and policy.
  • The Tour de Yorkshire had captured the imagination of communities and senior leaders.

What we're doing in Doncaster

We started our pilot journey with Sport England by understanding people and our diverse communities. At our core, we are collaborating with communities to co-create change from the bottom up, which is helping to learn about the conditions, principles and practical considerations needed to influence positive change at every level of the system we live in.

A good example of this is the systems mapping process we used, led by Dr Nick Cavill, where residents and stakeholders from different sectors worked together to identify the factors affecting activity and inactivity levels in Doncaster. When you look at the map, there are probably no surprises, but the process helped the participants to understand each other and learn more about the role they could play in leading a change.

It’s time to do something different – but where do we start?

The process helped Doncaster Active Travel Alliance (DATA) to identify the components, connectivity and leadership that is required and unique to Doncaster, to support population behaviour change through active travel.

The diagram, linked below, helps to visualise how Doncaster has started to work across and influence all layers of the system in order to tackle the barriers to active travel at every level of our society.

We have found that those actions will not succeed if they are independent from each other; and all partners involved in DATA are leading, supporting and advocating to make them work coherently with each other.

This is just one example in Doncaster where listening and learning with communities and each other is informing change.

By taking the time to understand and learn why inequalities are there in the first place, we can tackle them in a way that makes the biggest difference.

It is this learning culture that continues to drive our work, and it gives me hope that our future generations of children will no longer be divided by the streets they grow up on.

Learn more about how the local delivery pilots have developed over the last four years.

People and Places: The story of doing it differently

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.