How Britain’s parks are engaging with new audiences, in new places…

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How Britain’s parks are engaging with new audiences, in new places…


There is an increasing focus on the importance that our parks and other green spaces can play in getting inactive people active.

There are many ways of motivating and taking physical activity specific to local people in their park. This may include different levels of physical activity which can be fit into a general walk or dog walking schedule, the use of new technology to link to further information or perhaps the use of augmented reality and games.

There is no generic template for a good park or green space. The connections between experiences of nature, including diverse trees, plants and wildlife and mental wellbeing are strong. A park that only serves as a children’s playground or a football training ground is not fulfilling its potential,

There is also a strong case for saying that using parks for people to be active supports mental wellbeing and social inclusion and contributes to a preventative health agenda.

Also, while green spaces are important we should also remember that ‘blue space’ matters too. Rivers, lakes and canals are all great places for people to enjoy paddlesports, swimming or just being near the water.

The possibilities for our parks as places where local people engage and are active are numerous and there is considerable scope for local residents to share their experiences of using the park, to help people come up with ideas.

It is also important to recognise that visibility in the park makes it easier to see people like being active – reducing social distance.

There are also a number of ways that local groups and community entrepreneurs can become involved and develop bottom-up initiatives which can have a real impact due to their understanding of local needs and people.

This conference will feature real stories and successes to be told, lessons to be learnt, ideas and experiences to be shared

This conference is aimed at representatives from parks, social and sports development and other departments at our local authorities, social prescribers, public health, trusts, social enterprises, community groups and health and wellbeing bodies.

Presentations from:

The Activity Grower Academy

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The Activity Grower Academy

Innovative training and support to get more people active

All across the country, we are all wanting to more people physically active. To be successful it will require a more innovative and enterprising approach than is currently observed across much of the traditional workforce.

To help achieve this ambition we are now proposing to establish

The Activity Grower Academy which will:

1. develop and encourage a new way of thinking and behaviour within the current workforce
2. attract and support a new workforce who will come from outside the traditional sport and physical activity sector
3. encourage potential social entrepreneurs to step forward and then train and support them

The Academy will provide blended learning through workshops, webinars, guides, videos, podcasts, mentoring and networking opportunities
This is what we believe should be the objectives of the Activity Grower Academy.

We work on the notion that in order to stimulate sports and community bodies and providers to change we must introduce new thoughts, tools and to-dos:

First, we must provide people with thoughts and inspiration on how they can make a real difference and become more innovative and efficient. We have found that story-telling is a fantastic way of doing that. With our unparalleled track record in working with community sports providers, we have experienced from almost all settings which we are able to share. We have found face-to-face encounters are, by far, the best way of sharing best practice examples. The most common feedback we get from our workshops is that they are “thought-provoking”.

Then, when we have inspired people we can give them the tools to help them to start making the required changes. Those tools can be given via webinars, guides and e-newsletters and we are aware that those tools have to be relevant to the specific situation and organisation.

Finally, we have to give people the to-dos, ie the action points and templates required to get started. So, whether the club/group/body wants to start engaging better with its community and run a Community Launch or raise their profile across their community, we have a guide for exactly that.

Learning for the real world
For the full Activity Grower Academy proposal go here
Everyone is time-poor so the Academy will focus on providing engaging and relevant learning in bite-size chunks for available for people at their convenience. Remember, the Academy is for anyone who is keen to get ers more active, whether they are already involved in sport and physical activity, so accessibility to the material is crucial. So, all the Academy material will jargon-free, packed with case-studies and simple action plans.

1. Existing workforce

We will develop a fundamental workshop for people already involved in the sector who are interested in engaging with inactive people. That will give them an introduction to a person-centred approach to
getting inactive people active.

The five key strands of the Academy’s work will include:
· Community engagement
· Providing a great customer experience
· Helping participants to be accepted by their peers
· Running easy and unpressured sessions
· Providing structured and supported self-improvement

It will focus on developing people skills, understanding communities and customer and creating a welcoming and relevant environment and experience for different groups and types of personalities.
Subsequent webinars, videos, podcasts and guides will each cover one of these topics and the video case-studies will highlight examples where coaches and instructors have been able to engage with inactive people by adopting a person-centred approach.
A comprehensive social media campaign, will seek to engage with those people within the traditional workforce who are keen to acquire some of these new skills.


2. New providers

By engaging with the thousands of Community Connectors we can reach groups and people who traditional providers of sport and physical activity do not reach.

They can include housing, faith, social organisations, social prescribers. health and patient organisations, men’s sheds and community organisations from carers to allotment holders to name but a few. Most of these do not see themselves as providers of sport and physical activity in the traditional sense but many of them provide these services as part of their general work with their stakeholders.
Working with a number of partners the Academy will run a social media campaign trying to engage with these partners. That campaign will encourage these Connectors to attend workshops where we will introduce them to the basic principles of engaging with inactive people to encourage them to take the first baby steps to become physically active. Again, we are aware that these people are rarely interested in sport for sport’s sake, but in how physical activity can help change people’s lives.
These workshops will be followed up by webinars, guides and video case-studies covering specific elements of how non-sport bodies can extend their work to physical activity.

For the full Activity Grower Academy proposal go here

3. Social entrepreneurs

SMN has over the years helped a number of social enterprises involved with sport and physical activity to develop their organisation into efficient, effective, innovative and financially sustainable enterprises.
We have developed a model which focuses on developing Community Sports Change Makers

Some of these social entrepreneurs include: 

Introducing Community Sports Change Makers:
An enterprise which changes people’s lives through sport, in a vibrant, visible and viable way

The model helps community sports organisations to understand how by having the right vision and by improving on all their eight strands as a Community Sports Enterprise (‘CSE’), they can also deliver on five change areas. These go hand in hand: “You can’t make changes to people’s lives if you are not a sustainable enterprise, because you won’t be around for long”.

We are already delivering workshops, webinars and guides for these enterprises and it is certainly our experience that has a very high proportion of current and potential Enterprises and Change Makers and that collectively they could make an even bigger impact if supported and upskilled.

These social entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity of taking part in SMN Sports Enterprise Network where they can share ideas and experiences.

For the full Activity Grower Academy proposal go here

Who is behind the Activity Grower Academy

The Academy is a collaboration between  Proper Active and Sports Marketing Network

Dannielle Roberts, principal and founder of Proper Active is a social researcher and behavioural scientist with extensive experience of a diverse range of complex behavioural challenges across multiple sectors.

Svend Elkjaer, principal and founder of SMN has over the last twelve years trained and supported a large number of sports bodies, community sports enterprises and community sports clubs across the UK and Denmark.

Six Grow Your Football Club workshops across Wales

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More Than A Club – enterprising football clubs programme in Wales is launched

Six Grow Your Football Club workshops across Wales

The Football Association of Wales announces their exciting new More Than A Club programme, developed to help our community football clubs become more enterprising and sustainable, kicks-off with a range of workshops, across Wales.
This two-year support programme will help our grassroots football clubs to become proficient in creating great experiences for the players, parents and volunteers involved.
Each of Wales’ six Area Football Associations will host a More Than A Club workshop in September and October 2018.


For the full programme and to book a place

The comprehensive programme includes

· Staff development programme
· SMN mentor support to selected number of Focus clubs
· FAW Trust staff mentor support to Development Clubs
· Grow Your Club Workshops
· Webinars
· ‘How to’ Guides
· Best practice e-newsletters

About the workshop

A workshop packed with informative ideas and help on how to make your football club vibrant, visible and viable, provide great experiences, recruit more players and people and communicate better.

Community football clubs are facing strong challenges in order to survive and grow in an increasingly competitive and demanding market. How to attract new members and retain the existing ones, become a hub of the community, grow sponsorship revenue, improve the social life of the club, increase media coverage, benefit from new technology, introduce new revenue streams…

In order to survive and grow football clubs must ‘listen to people’s lives’ and adopt new ways of running their clubs. They need to become more welcoming to attract and retain members and volunteers and they must ‘speak people’s’ language’ and communicate with them in a modern and engaging way.

The workshop will focus on the practical issues of setting up and developing a vibrant, visible and viable Community Football Club, regardless of size and location.

The presenter will draw from hundreds of best practice case studies from community-based, volunteer-run sports clubs from across a number of different sports and countries.


• Get the vision right for your club
• Learn to love change
• Become a more welcoming club
• Build and maintain positive relationships with new and existing partners
• How to promote your club and attract new members
• Introduce innovative ways of engaging with your customers and your community
• Learn how to run your club effectively and efficiently
• Develop new ways of working in order to generate new income streams
• How to manage a vibrant community sports club by developing your culture and skills
• Attract and retain skilled and passionate volunteers
• Become well connected to your community
• How to best assess your potential for working with community partners – what are your assets, relationships and skills?

Information about FAW Trust More Than A Club – developing enterprising football clubs across Wales

At the workshop, you will also receive information about this innovative support programme where clubs can apply to become part of a bespoke support programme where they will be inspired and mentored to become more enterprising.

The FAW Trust

The FAW Trust is responsible for the development of football in Wales, from grassroots to national level. For more than 20 years, it’s been our job to work with the Football Association of Wales to protect, promote and develop the game of football to achieve our joint vision of:-

Football for everyone, everywhere in Wales

About the presenter, Svend Elkjaer

Holding a Master in Business Administration, MBA, Svend founded the Sports Marketing Network (SMN) in 2005 for people involved with the commercial, community and marketing issues across all sports and physical activity; be it a club, governing body, local authority or private sports deliverer.

Over the last eight years, more than 4,000 sports providers have benefitted from SMN’s services attending our workshops and presentations, being mentored or receiving consultancy. SMN has also advised, consulted and trained a number of organisations and public bodies including the RFU, FA, Cricket Scotland, Amateur Swimming Association, British Gymnastics, Sport Wales, England Golf, England Athletics, sportscotland, etc.

Grow Your Club – the guide

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Grow Your Club – the guide

The indispensable guide on how you can make your club a welcoming hub for your community


Thoughts, tools and to-dos you can use – here and now!

Based on Sports Marketing Network’s work with 4000 community sports clubs across the UK and Denmark this 52-page guide covers how community clubs can develop the enterprise culture and skills required and how to get the vision right and a clear vision of what their club is for. It will help clubs become vibrant through the activities and events the club creates, visible through its communication with members, volunteers, partners and the world at large thus creating a viable club.

It all starts with helping readers to understand how vital it is to develop a welcoming and enterprising culture.

It then focuses on how clubs can become business-savvy and build and maintain positive relationships with new and existing partners. You will also be given the basic tools to promote your club and attract new members by using innovative ways of engaging with your customers and your community.

You will learn how to run your club effectively and efficiently and how to develop new ways of working in order to generate new income streams.

Buzzing with all these ideas you will then learn how to attract and retain skilled and passionate volunteers who can help the club implement them.

No boring theory – just inspiring and proven thoughts, tools and to-dos you can use here and now!

Sports Marketing Network believes passionately that we need community sports clubs to prosper. They must become places where people will want to play and exercise and become engaged. They should generally become hubs for their communities, in short. become places ‘which play a part of people’s lives’.

This guide is designed to help you to achieve that, so apply and enjoy !

Here are some of headlines and checklists from the manual:

The Sports Club as a Community Sports Enterprise – the eight key strands
To be really successful, a club must focus on eight key strands and treat them with equal importance:

1. Vision and strategy – what are you for?
2. Develop strong leadership and management
3. Provide great sporting and consumer experiences
4. Be for the community

5. Be welcoming and vibrant
6. Engage and communicate better internally and externally
7. Generate income
8. Getting things done through people

How to overcome complacency and introduce real urgency

How to become #MoreThanAClub
A real Community Sports Club literally sits in the middle of its community and it can, and should. play a vital role for its community. This can help the club:

1. Build a more active, inclusive and healthier community
2. Improve educational standards in your community
3. Create a safer and more cohesive community
4. Bring together community groups, institutions and associations

Welcoming clubs have more members and make more money
Listen to people’s lives and adapt what you do, accordingly.

How to run a great Open Day at your sports club
Some key points to consider:

1. Think it through – why are you doing it?
2. People, people, people
3. Who is it for?
4. Make sure a great time is had by all
5. Share value with the community
6. Members ‘spread the word’ – offline/online

7. Welcome everybody
8. Be more than ‘just sports club’
9. Joint promotions with local media
10. Have a friendly point of contact
11. Use social media share the experience
12. Follow up, follow up

Enterprise and Innovation has to play centre stage at your club’s income generation

From Membership Secretary to Club Grower

The eight Rs which will help grow your club – Rejuvenate, Recruitment, Retention, Renewals, Relationships, Resources, Research, Revenue

How innovative events engage with the community and generate income

Would you, honestly and genuinely, recommend your club as a warm and professional place to volunteer? If not, why not

Introducing The Ten Ts for volunteer management

Buy your copy of the Grow Your Club guide for just £19.50 and make your club vibrant, visible and viable

Or save £19.50 by ordering the whole set of seven guides and pay only £117.00 for the whole set.
Post and package included

To order your copies please

click here for the shop or

complete the form

or contact Svend Elkjaer on 01423 326 660 email