Strengthening Communities

The Essex Local Delivery Pilot

Building healthier, more active communities across the county

Active Essex is proud to lead the work of the Local Delivery Pilot (LDP), using test and learn innovative approaches to increase physical activity levels further in the most disadvantaged areas of Essex. 1 in 4 people in Essex are inactive, which rises to as much as 1 in 2 in our least affluent communities.

Led by Active Essex, the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (ELDP) aims to build healthier, more active communities across the county. An active lifestyle creates huge benefits for the health and wellbeing of individuals and families, as well as making local communities more vibrant, connected, and resilient.

In the past year, the ELDP has been able to scale up test and learn projects such as Essex Pedal Power and ParkPlay, benefitting even more residents living in our most deprived communities. It has also become clear that utilising a whole system approach on a number of projects, helps to strengthen and shape future work.

Microgrant projects funded since 2017
Essex-wide LDP projects completed to date
LDP investment proposals since 2017

Over the past 6 years, the LDP has shown success in the hardwiring of physical activity and building connections across the system, to empower communities and ensure that everyone can enjoy the many benefits that an active lifestyle can bring. To truly demonstrate the positive impact that the LDP has had on the physical activity levels of people living in Essex's priority neighbourhoods, Active Essex released an impactful LDP System Impact video in early March 2024.

The video is a development of the previous recording, which launched in May 2022, highlighting the journey that Essex has been on to help create positive lasting change in communities. It includes insightful and powerful interviews from key system leaders representing health, adult social care, community and voluntary services, local government, and Sport England, to highlight how physical activity is being successfully embedded across systems.

The LDP has proven that physical activity is driving system change, to increase the amount of place-based working in Essex's priority neighbourhoods, and system leaders in the county are now using physical activity as an important tool to empower communities and deliver wider social and economic outcomes.

Essex have been fortunate to test and learn from the LDP using targeted action, to understand the people who live and work in a place, to create positive change. Through extensive evaluation, this has successfully positioned Essex as a place partner, and as the transition begins out of the world of Local Delivery Pilots, and into Place Partners, Active Essex will look to share learnings across Essex to better understand priority neighbourhoods. This video captures the journey up until this point, and lays the foundation to now build upon, as well as highlighting how Essex played a key part in Sport England’s Place Expansion initiative, which was launched on Canvey Island, last November.

Hear from a range of key stakeholders on how system change within the Local Delivery Pilot has positively impacted communities across Essex.

Essex LDP Ways of Working

Asset Based Community Development (ABCD)

Since 2019, a proactive approach has been taken by the ELDP to understand ABCD and have used it to underpin their work, and so far there have been a number of positive outcomes. If leadership can be distributed to the local community, then they will take responsibility and ownership of creating opportunities to reduce physical inactivity. They have the local lived experience, meaning they understand the needs and wants of their local community.

In 2023, the ELDP worked in partnership with the Active Essex Foundation charity to embed and sustain the ABCD movement initiated by the ELDP. The Active Essex Foundation have designed and delivered new ABCD workshops using examples from the ELDP, as well as creating a network of people who have attended ABCD training, and are driving forward the Essex ABCD Stewardship circle of system leaders.

system leaders completed the ABCD stewardship circle
individuals attended ABCD guide training
individuals trained through ABCD-E workshop
Strengthening Communities

Asset Based Community Development

Supporting local communities to become more cohesive, resilient and stronger


Leadership Development

The LDP tested a new 7-day leadership course; Leading with Courage and Empathy, which focused on developing leadership behaviours and practices that will lead to system change to enable healthier, more active communities across the county. 13 system leaders from the Essex LDP attended the course, which was structured around the ‘Theory U’ work of Otto Scharmer. Participants were encouraged to consider how complexity and uncertainty can be seen as a place of possibility from which we can re-imagine and re-build the way we work by leading more courageously with an open mind, open heart, and open will.


Key Learnings from the Leadership Development Course

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.



Strong relationships have been built and maintained across multiple local sectors and systems


Peer Support

Building solid foundations in a trusting and safe network, adds value and strength

Behaviour Change


In our systems comes from overcoming vulnerabilities, allowing imagination to flourish

Influence Collection


The course is becoming part of the system leadership language in Active Essex and wider system

Karen and Mark are outstanding facilitators and thought leaders. Through this programme, they have really challenged my thinking and actions in a positive manner to help me in my development and the development of a multi-disciplinary, cross-organisational group of peers, to better face some of the wicked issues and opportunities available to us as place leaders.
Grant Taylor, Basildon Borough Council

Capacity Building

A key aspect of the ELDP has been the importance of capacity building within key locally trusted organisations (LTO) who are delivering innovative physical activity and sport with target audiences in deprived communities. Expert partner, Mark Gerbaldi, has worked closely with 17 LTOs who are a key part of the LDP work by providing expert advice on governance and policies, as well as developing business and fundraising plans. Mark has supported the LTOs to bring in over £2 million of new funding from funders such as National Lottery Community Fund, Postcode Places Trust, Children in Need, South Essex Homes, Basildon NHS Alliance, PHAB, Essex Community Foundation, National Lottery Heritage Fund, and StreetGames.


Evaluation Approaches

The ELDP takes an approach to evaluation that utilises realist methodology, which considers not only ‘what works’, but ‘how’ and ‘why’. With the support of an academic partner, the team of embedded researchers has been collecting data to test ideas around themes such as embedding physical activity within the youth justice system, place-based working, and developing relationships with other teams.

The Active Essex Insight & Evaluation team have taken advantage of the opportunity to test new methodology such as Realist-Informed Ripple Effects Mapping, which is a highly participatory approach to reflecting on, and mapping out what the team has done. It focuses on the expected and unexpected impacts before diving further into how and why they occurred.

The Social Return on Investment represents a complimentary method to the realist evaluation. The evaluation and SROI activities have been streamlined together to ensure coherence between the two pieces of work.

Over the past year, the importance of learning from evaluation findings, particularly within the ELDP, has become more prevalent, to help develop the understanding of what works in local communities. A number of deep dive evaluation reports have been produced which outline successes, challenges and learnings and help to understand the potential of specific projects and ways of working to be scaled and/or replicated. An example of this has been evaluating the impact of the Prevention and Enablement Model, which has provided fundamental findings and key recommendations around system-led opportunities, workforce and the hardwiring of physical activity to help improve the lives of people living with disabilities and/or long-term health conditions. This has since developed into ‘Reconnect’, which has been mainstreamed by Adult Social Care.


Take a deeper dive into some of the projects that have been evaluated

Levelling Up Health and Wellbeing

Prevention and Enablement Model

A test and learn initiative to improve the lives of people living with disabilities and/or long-term...


Find Your Active

Developments of the Essex behaviour change campaign

Find Your Active 1
Children and Young People

Essex ActivAte

The holiday and food programme for children and young people who are eligible for benefits based fre...

Essex Activ Ate
Active Environments

Essex Pedal Power

Making cycling accessible in our most deprived communities

Essex Pedal Power
Strengthening Communities

LDP Microgrants Programme

A small grants programme to help local communities get active

Active Environments


Using technology and games to increase physical activity levels

total amount of funding to LDP projects from Jun 2019 – Dec 2023
leveraged funding for LDP projects from Jun 2019 – Dec 2023

ELDP inspires the evaluation of Find Your Active Basildon

Chris Boardman, Chairman of Sport England and National Active Travel Commissioner for Active Travel England, visited Find Your Active Basildon to meet with LDP funded projects and system leaders. Hosted by Basildon Council, Chris visited Essex Pedal Power at Basildon Hospital, ATF at Northlands Park, and met with over 30 system leaders for an informative share and learn session at Ford.

It was great for Basildon to receive endorsement of the partnership’s work from such an influential figure, where partners talked at length about how we can strengthen FYA Basildon to continue delivering for years to come, making a real difference in local people’s lives. The partnership continues to work together to be much more than the sum of its parts, embedding activity so that it becomes something we naturally do instead of something we talk about.
Scott Logan, Chief Executive at Basildon Council

As the ELDP transitions from testing to replicating and scaling up the approaches, rich learning will be taken from the three test areas to other deprived places across Essex. The ELDP will also play a key role in supporting Sport England with the national roll out of their new £250m place based expansion programme, shaped by the learnings of the 12 LDPs.