Black Country takes insight-led approach to combating inactivity

Michael Salmon, Head of Insight, Health & Wellbeing, writes about Active Black Country.

Across the Black Country we have long understood the need for an insight-led approach to tackling inactivity in the region. The newly launched Insight Hub for the Black Country offers data and intelligence into physical activity levels and participation in sport, alongside understanding of key trends influencing behaviours across the Black Country.

The Black Country is an area characterised by people and place. Located at the heart of England, its residents strongly identify with the geography, its traditions and its history. It is also, however, a place beset by inequalities, with more than half a million residents living within some of the most deprived parts of the country. With deprivation comes lower life expectancy, a higher prevalence of long-term health conditions and less disposable income so it follows that the bi-annual release of Active Lives data from Sport England consistently identifies the Black Country as the most inactive part of the country.

To support a system-wide approach to tackling high levels of inactivity, Active Black Country have launched the Insight Hub, working with leaders from across the four Local Authority areas that comprise the Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton). The Insight Hub is a new online resource through which we aim to introduce practical information to help stakeholders from across the physical activity system to identify opportunities to facilitate the activation of residents across the four local authority areas.

Active Black Country’s Director, Ian Carey, commented that an insight-led approach is paramount because “good decision making relies on getting access to the right information, informed via learning from our approaches and those of others to get people active.” It is this approach we have applied to the Insight Hub, and subsequently all our work focused on tackling inactivity in the Black Country.

The front page of the hub sets the tone with its depiction of an urban active environment, displaying the connectivity between the place, stakeholders and the opportunities to get people active. Whilst the tool provides the latest secondary data across the thematic areas of Communities, Health and Wellbeing, Education and Workforce, providing Black Country interpretations of national datasets from sources such as Sport England, Public Health England and Department for Transport, its real strength comes with its commitment to identifying and communicating learnings from pilot projects being carried out, enabling users to understand what has worked but, crucially, what hasn’t worked as the system-wide workforce test approaches to tackling inactivity across eight priority wards that encompass the most severe deprivation and inequalities.

Through the Insight Hub we aim to deliver on our mission to change people’s lives through the power of sport and physical activity across the most deprived areas of the Black Country, achieving this through collaboration, influence and the creation of opportunities that enable residents to be healthier.

To find out more about the Insight Hub, go to Insight.