Strengthening Communities

Strategic Priority

Strengthening Communities

Working with communities in a place-based approach, to use the power of physical activity to build resilience, connection and wellbeing, is at the heart of what Active Essex do.

Focus has been emphasised on supporting locally trusted organisations to build capacity, develop resources and access funding in order to grow and sustain their use of sport and physical activity opportunities to engage communities.

This work is underpinned by the adoption of the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach, using existing strengths and passions within local communities, taking a citizen led approach to help drive physical activity. These opportunities are highlighted through this strategic priority, working to tackle the inequalities that exist across our communities, unleash the potential of community spaces to bring people together and ensure sport and physical activity is recognised and used as an effective intervention tool.


Tackling inequalities in our communities

By working alongside locally trusted organisations, who are already supporting communities impacted by the cost of living, Active Essex have been able to support delivery to ensure residents have access to free and affordable activities.

Using the Find Your Active fund, Together Fund and Essex County Council Levelling Up Programmes, Active Essex have been able to support organisations who are striving to tackle inactivity within their communities, and 66% of Find Your Active funded projects this year, have been to levelling up areas.

Largely driven by the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, the team have focused on supporting the most deprived communities, testing new interventions and scaling up the most successful of approaches across Essex and the levelling up areas. A great example have been the Colchester Islamic Cultural Association who has been supported to secure Local Delivery Pilot funding, and Youth Inequalities funding.

Read our case studies

Strengthening Communities

The Essex Local Delivery Pilot

Read about the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, as it transitions into Place Partnership initiative.

Strengthening Communities

Supporting community groups to get active

Read more about the work undertaken for the Colchester Islamic Cultural Association.

Colchester Islamic Cultural Association
Strengthening Communities

Over 50's Black Men's Forum

Dive deeper into how an ABCD approach was used to support this community


A key initiative established to tackle deepened inequalities among families, is Essex ActivAte, the holiday activity and food (HAF) programme. This year they launched a new centralised booking system to ensure they were reaching the free school meal cohort and targeting those that needed this provision the most.

Stronger relationships have been made throughout the year with schools across the county to ensure they understand the benefits of the HAF programme for their pupils, and further discussions have taken place with the levelling up team to understand how further delivery can be offered for SEND, mental wellbeing and youth provision support through the HAF programme.

See what the Essex ActivAte team have been up to over the past year.
young people attended HAF clubs this year
clubs engaged with communities this year

Want to read more about the Essex ActivAte programme?

Strengthening Communities

The Holiday Activity and Food Programme

Strengthened relationships with partners has helped to engage more children on free school meals.

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Building resilience and capacity in local community organisations

Working with community organisations in our place, Active Essex have been able to understand the need for business development support, including legal structures, governance, business planning and fundraising strategies. Bespoke resilience building programmes through the Together Fund Phase 4 and the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, have been delivered working in partnership with a partner consultant, specialising in third sector development.

Building upon this, a capacity building programme, delivered by Sporting People has engaged with community partners delivering sport and physical activity, to strengthen their people and overall organisation development to support staff retention and longer-term growth and sustainability.

An important step within this focus, has been building an effective relationship with the Public Health Strengthening Communities team, and community organisations such as the CVS, Essex Association of Local Council and Essex Council for Voluntary Youth clubs. Through this work, the team have been able to co-design hyperlocal physical activity projects, ensuring a proportionate universalism approach has been taken.

organisations onboarded across resilience & capacity building programmes
people attended an LDP Share and Learn event
million generated in new funds from direct advice & support on funding bids
The organisation development support from Active Essex has proved to be invaluable. Having external expert and honest feedback about our operating procedures has helped us improve as a business which has meant we have been able to accelerate our growth much faster.
Stuart Long, ATF attendee on Capacity Building Programme

What impact has this support had?

Strengthening Communities

The Resilience Building programme

Better understand the impact this programme has had on organisations who attended.

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Hardwiring physical activity into shared community spaces

As previously mentioned, by using a place-based approach, Active Essex have been able to identify more community spaces with the potential for physical activity use, which has also included non-traditional places where residents already feel comfortable visiting.

Through the Find Your Active small grants fund, 45 projects have taken place in community-based venues, activating existing assets, to ensure physical activity is taken to the heart of communities. Active Essex have supported organisations in their ongoing development using sport to breakdown barriers, engage and upskill local people, and share learning to scale and replicate the offer wider.

Focusing on community environments has included brokering a relationship with libraries to provide physical activity and sport opportunities. With an initial target of 16 libraries wanting to be engaged, 35 activities have been designed and funded. With the cost of living driving up costs for groups owning or hiring community spaces for physical activity, this has helped respond to the need.

In addition, the Find Your Active Places and Spaces fund launched in 2023, to support organisations with community asset improvements to increase physical activity opportunities for inactive residents. This fund focuses on improving non-traditional spaces in the heart of communities.

residents to have improved access to physical activity
organisations funded through Places and Spaces

Get to grips with some of the funded projects

Active Environments

Peaceful Places Allotment

A places and spaces funded project to support those with early onset dementia.

Levelling Up Health and Wellbeing

Waltham Abbey Community Hub

The power of bringing communities together in shared spaces

Waltham Abbey Community Hub
Sport and Physical Activity

The Amigos Running Club

Small grants funding that has helped to connect female residents through running.


Asset Based Community Development

Active Essex have continued to enhance their Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) offer this year and have worked closely with Nurture Development to ensure system leaders have completed the training. They have also delivered Advanced ABCD Guides training to influence and sustain the use of this initiative among local organisations who are working alongside communities. The ABCD network has expanded further, with new contacts such as Chelmsford City Councillors, Southend Adult Education, Essex Fire, Maldon Council and the NHS having engaged with the approach. Over the past 12 months, Active Essex have brought these individuals together as a wider ABCD network, sharing best examples, supporting any challenges and creating a community of learning.

The Active Essex Foundation have designed content and workshops with locally trusted Basildon-based organisation ATF to roll this vital work out wider.

individuals completed ABCD Guides training
attended the first ABCD network meeting
people involved in Essex-based ABCD workshops

Key Learnings

It's important to take time to reflect and understand the learnings from work undertaken, in order to focus on ways to improve in the future.



Need a better geographical spread of guides across the county.

Community links


Understand audience prior to the delivery of ABCD workshops.


Future proof

Important to explore costings and provision of future courses.


Read more about Asset Based Community Development

Strengthening Communities

Working with our communities is vital

This approach has been strengthened over the past year. See how Essex is utilising it here.


Sport and Youth Crime Prevention

This year has seen particular growth across the Sport and Youth Crime Prevention work, delivered by the Active Essex Foundation (AEF) team. Closely working with partners across the criminal justice system, the Foundation have helped showcase how sport and physical activity should be seen as a key intervention that merits investment.

Highlighting the power of sport and physical activity to the statutory system was successfully achieved at the first ever Sport and Youth Crime Prevention Conference in November, where 180 people from statutory and voluntary sectors attended.

Collaboration with the Essex Youth Offending Service, AEF have developed a successful sport and life skills project for young people serving youth rehabilitation orders, engaging them in opportunities to enhance their future aspirations.

Hear first hand how this programme is supporting young people's future endeavours.

The Sport and Youth Crime Prevention team has gone from strength to strength over the past year, and with a number of exciting things in the pipeline, this looks set to continue furthermore.

Take a look at our Active Essex Foundation case studies

Strengthening Communities

Active Essex's Charity arm

Read about the impact of the charity arm, the Active Essex Foundation.

Active Essex Foundation

Sport and Youth Crime Prevention

Read more about the Foundations, flagship programme.

Sport and Physical Activity 2

Sports and Activity Navigator

Assisting and working with young people involved or at risk of engagement in criminal activity.

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Sport and Activity Enabler

Supporting young people who are at risk of exploitation and criminality.

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