Reflections on co-locating, three mentions of biscuits, and other thoughts on stuff

I’ve finally remembered to take some pics. They are a good way of helping you distract yourself from the words.

Duke Street Community Garden

Co-locate is co-great

I’ve started co-locating this week. It did feel a little like starting a new job. Slightly nerve-racking, but felt like a good way to move things on. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the idea is to build trust and understanding by placing myself on, your friend and mine, a chair, in the community anchor organisation. Drink their tea, eat their biscuits, and get to understand their work. Already this has helped me understand the structure of the community anchor organisations (lead Social Prescribing org) and capitalise on the opportunity to grab people for a quick chat or just question which meeting people are going to, whilst trying to not sound too needy. By doing this, I’ve found it easier to see how the project might tangibly fit in with existing structures and groups within the organisations network. However, rightly so, I don’t think my work is a top priority so might have to weasel my way into more meetings and conversations and push it up the agenda where I can.

It’s worth saying though, Manor Castle Development Trust (MCDT) have been very accommodating, they work is very impressive, and they have a proper passionate bunch of people. Thanks for having me and I hope you don’t think I’m spying on you.

What is good in Manor and Sheffield? Some of MCDT’s previous chat’s about assets

Fly in the soup bowl

I’m trying to get co-located at Darnall too, but space seems to be more of an issue. I will start next week on half a day on a compromise arrangement. I have to admit, in comparison with starting at Manor, the set up with Darnall feels a little harder. I feel a little like the unexpected guest at dinner. The guest who insists he needs to co-locate at your dinner table to ‘get to understand the way you make dinner, and forge stronger and more trusting relationships with the parsnips’. No reflection on Darnall Wellbeing, they have limited space, I get that. But it’s more a reflection on the fact that theory is one thing, the reality is another. I’ll persevere because co-locating feels crucial.

Network of connected assets + ABCD = Existential doubt

I’ve mentioned various plans before. Some weeks these make sense and I can totally visualise how the project will play out. I feel like I’ve detailed the steps needed to get a team together, identify assets, and develop and harness opportunities as they arise. This is when the project presents itself as a linear process. One that follows a project plan and timelines based around tried and tested methods of ABCD to deliver things/stuff/change.

Some weeks, nothing makes sense, my foundational assumptions have been squashed after a slightly inquisitive conversation in the kitchen, or I wake up in the middle of the night after dreaming about Sport England’s community of learning and having some weird visceral urge to record the dream as learning. This is when the work presents itself as a pursuit of a connected network of assets that supports physical activity. A network of connected assets that shares learning and shouts about good stuff. That links together burgeoning opportunities with support. That shares information on assets and provision across the community. This is so much harder to pin down, and visualise. Every so often, it clicks into place, with increasing frequency it is worth noting, which is good. Sometimes it doesn’t. Testing and learning feels key at this stage (hence the extra long blog) as we use our generous phase one organisations to act as trail blazers/guinea pigs/sacrificial goats.

Thanks to Tom Hughes for pushing me to capture this sort of stuff.

The lovely community garden — Letters waiting to be stuck back on by volunteers in the next sessions. One of the many tasks for the busy group.

Connectedness — trying to figure out why it’s important, where partners are at, and if connectedness is even a word

Part of my early conversations have been around connectedness, sharing, and collaborating. The project aims to develop this where necessary, in order to create a more effective and collaborative use of existing assets. So far, although I’ve not delved too much, I’ve gleaned that a large amount of physical activity in the area is delivered by MCDT. However, it was also mentioned that there is a desire to seek other opportunities in the area as people can’t always access the stuff MCDT provides. This feels like something Move More can help with.

We did talk about other spaces/structures/opportunities for sharing info, ways in which people access and hear about assets, and other good stuff, but I’ll pull this together later on.

Some of the physical activity info around the office

Worry of insurmountable barriers

I started this blog last night and was at that point fretting about the extent and scale of barriers to physical activity, and wondering if anything was possible without huge change in the way the world works. I’ve slept since then, and don’t feel to be fretting as much, and appreciate it is not my task to overcome all of these. However, the barriers are still there. Lack of capacity and resource in community, very limited time for GP’s to talk about physical activity, big mental health and confidence barriers, money, and the other big ones.

Connecting networks of assets in communities might be a way of enabling more physical activity, or it might be a case of asking for more from groups and people that don’t have more to give and the solution lies in bigger changes elsewhere. Just throwing that in a potential cop-out in case everything fails.

Volunteers and ambassadors in communities

If volunteers were biscuits, I’d be worried that we are about to lift up the empty tray to reveal bare cardboard. For clarity — volunteers are not biscuits, it’s easy to find biscuits.

The dream of a team

Way over the word limit. Keep short. I need to talk to my ‘virtual team’ more. Problem shared, a problem halved. Although, a cake shared, is a cake halved? Will consider approach…


Adam Batty

Move More Empowered Communities Project lead


Move More is Sheffield’s physical activity strategy. It aims to support Sheffield to become the most active city in the UK by 2020, improving the health, wellbeing and quality of lives of everyone in the city. Move More is a project of the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine. Partners include the council, the NHS, activity and wellbeing providers, both universities, businesses and individuals who all want to make it easier for people to be physically active. To find out more about the project, visit our website. Or email me on

Move More Empowered Communities — Adam Batty

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Empowering Communities through the Move More strategy. Read on for an overview, updates, and learning from the project.

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