Embedding the notion of social value in leisure contracts. 10 thoughts.

Thanks to those that helped draft and with ideas – Rob Copeland, Alex Shilcoff, Ollie Hart, Piers Simney, Kate Ardern, Emma Edwards

Probably others who helped and I’ve forgotten.

Everyone is doing “social value” now in commissioning. This is great, it’s a bit of a slippery concept however. I got asked for views on this a few weeks ago. 
In the spirit of not reinventing wheels here were my thoughts on what that might look like in measurability & indicator terms. I’ve tried to be practical rather than eretheral.



Target audiences -4 obvious high priority target groups for me.

Those that don’t sweat at all vs those that are currently quite sweaty (getting them to sweat more, or market provider shifting)

Pre frail – im still not forgetting about potential of PA to delay frailty…. Theres cashable savings for health and social care here

Families – whole family approach.

the need for continued disproportionate focus on the inequalities agenda – most deprived populations, those with disability, those with mental illness or physical underlying conditions.



‘Leisure centres should be a vehicle for community development’ aswell as facility providers. How this is enacted, in contractual terms, might be difficult. Evidence to support that – to support a contractual discussion – will be difficult…. But easy to see how it could be quite a game changer

Social return scheme – something which rewards people / volunteers / community members for their contributions via social prescribing or something. Could be done through SIV type ife cards or something ?

Duty of linking into range of community activities outside the walls of the LC rather than remorselessly pursuing throughput

Staff that reflect the makeup of their community

Wider wellness offer as PART of the programme IN the centre, not “something that happens elsewhere”

Some way of tie up with social prescribing and way in which we approach neighbourhoods…. So leisure becomes part of social fabric

Creation of similar feel and space to private provision (on the cheap obviously)

sense of community engagement in the look, shape and feel and execution of new / reshaping of existing services…..”we are all Move More”

Work with likes of Timebuilders/ volcom orgs to do volunteer and community development but could take astronger approach further down the line – develop the people, skills and assets.


Data and intelligence

Standard measure of physical activity to be included in all contracts. 

Shared data on all aspects of participation and access to facility. Need to get much better at understanding who centres are engaging. This data should be in a format that is sharable with the commissioner. If there’s public funding in it, then the data should be available to improve services, reach and outcomes.

Any provider app to include tracking tech from move more app to enhance coverage. 



Integration between sectors and wider fit

Principle if refurb to capital or other similar project we consider as a matter of routine the integration of “health” and “leisure” – ie mainstreaming the NCSEM precedent…. So running nhs services from leisure facilities where space allows

Maybe library link up, other council & other services run from same space (in Sheffield this is aka the ZEST type model)

linking into the review of the weight management services and other services the local authority or NHS operates etc

make sure we capitalise on huge opportunity for marketing and social prescribing and linking things up etc. eg front end of ponds forge basically sells various sizes of speedos but it’s a huge space which could be used as a health and fitness library / information zone. 

link in with the social prescribing/ community groups…….we need leisure providers to be part of the network that cares about how the city networks together

incentivise getting new kit for parks in return to doing good stuff? Neighbours or communities cutting park grass and maintaining and then spending money saved on more kit or events or stuff.




On site stuff such as Food

Vending to be at least 80% healthy choices and for this to be monitored with fines etc

Same standards as per schools re nutritional content of stuff sold

Sugary drinks in vending machines – taxed, or not there at all

LGA healthy food procurement guide here.http://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/healthier-food-procuremen-ade.pdf




Post within the centre to be embedded in the broader cities approach and programme and integration of health, leisure and social care. Post should be funded for lifetime of contract. Need some sustainability. 


Staff and environment

Reception staff/front of house guide people in/MECC potential – full idea about products and able to engage

Staff to be actually be good at behaviour change – demonstrate competencies and training of staff

Disability friendly, dementia friendly, mental health friendly environment/staff – there are accreditation schemes

Family friendly stuff (making it easy for parents to exercise – not just hold the baby in the water….mum/baby classes, crèche)

Something re training and competency of staff to appropriately support those with disabiltu and medical conditions (not just a training thing, but a cultural thing)

Linking in properly with active travel – bike racks galore?? Already have lockers etc





Service offer

If they do exercise on referral – do it proper – systems and evaluation

Other clinical services within a gym setting

Rehab services – stroke/cardiac/pulmonary – on site

Training their staff to take advantage of secondary prevention potential – a fit for purpose workforce, with golden handcuffs so you don’t train them up and they leave ya

Focused programmes and provision for those with pre existing medical conditions …. Place and provision that’s SEEN as for that group

Ditto disability??



Outcomes considerations – real pop level outcomes

A leisure provider would happily be accountable for good user experience in members. What about being accountable for population inactivity. 

Obviously this is the key point about service users vs population, and also control of all bits of the causal chain that get to a more active population.

There’s a side discussion – but an important one – here about efficiency, and the cheapest way to achieve a goal. The service provider perspective, the Commissioner perspective and the Population perspective are all different. 

Other (I cant quite fit anywhere)

Flexible memberships, and having viable pay and play options rather than totally pursuing DDs monthly members

Use of digital for follow up/customer interaction – simple to more complex

Marketing using people like me images – fatties; oaps; pwd – get beyond the body beautiful brigade

Daily Mile in school holidays…


finally who else has done what 

E Riding been doing some excellent work



Ditto Wigan – some fab stuff there
Searchable case studies here






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