Yorkshire Sport Foundation’s approach to tackling inactivity using data, insight and engagement

4global’s Sport Intelligence Practice supports Active Partnerships to operate as intelligence co-ordinators for their region, using insight generated from the DataHub platform.

Yorkshire Sport Foundation (YSF), the Active Partnership for South and West Yorkshire, was an early adopter of the programme and now with three Local Delivery Pilots in their region and a focus on place-based programme development, insight generated from the DataHub is central to the organisation’s strategic goals.

Emma Robinson is the Research and Insight Manager at YSF. Here she reflects on YSF’s journey with the DataHub and how it has enabled the organisation and their partners to target communities where the need is greatest.

Yorkshire Sport Foundation is tasked with identifying the best opportunities for increasing sport and physical activity participation in our communities. Although our focus is on the best way to get everyone more physically active, we place particular focus on encouraging inactive people in our focus communities to move more.

YSF began working with the DataHub approximately two years ago and since then we’ve been actively engaging with our District Activity Partners (DAPs), encouraging them to open up their participation data to help us identify activity and participation trends district-wide.

One partner we’ve successfully taken through the data journey is Sheffield United Community Foundation. The charity needed greater insight into the value of its programmes to demonstrate the impact to the board and current/potential funders. Intelligence generated from the DataHub has enabled Sheffield United Community Foundation to identify and target inactive communities, demonstrate its increased reach and the social value generated. 

Opening up data in this way gives us a level of insight we’ve never been able to capture before, in terms of which activities are happening in our area and where gaps exist. Accessing shared data from the DataHub has supported us in identifying 36 focused communities – our most inactive, deprived areas with particular issues around health and wellbeing. We utilised the Geo Impacts module, which gives Mosaic data and a risk of inactivity score, to ensure we accurately pinpointed the communities most in need. It gave us a deeper, more granular knowledge of our local area to ensure pockets of inactivity aren’t missed. 

As we gradually accumulate all our DAPs data, we can start to show the impact work done by us and our partners has at a community level – that is not limited to activities taking place in leisure centres – and for me this is where the real value lies. We’re moving towards a view of our whole patch – what activities are happening, where gaps exist, and which demographic groups aren’t being picked up. We can feed that intelligence into our strategy, share it with the DAP partners and get a real-time picture for the district. The more data going in, the richer the outputs, the easier it is to make robust decisions around the insight coming out. 

We are also an advocate for open data using Open Active, a community-led initiative, stewarded by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and supported by Sport England. It’s working towards making it as easy to find and book a badminton court as it currently is to book a hotel room or a table at a restaurant. 

In YSF’s strategy we have a remit to exploit digital technology to get more people active, so it’s a seamless fit for us. I am working as a Data Champion to encourage partners to open up their opportunity data at the same time as sharing their activity data with the DataHub.

A potential scenario for the future is to have our DAPs using data from the DataHub to inform decision making on programming, feeding into using Open Data to ensure inactive people find out about activities, and can easily book onto them, and finally utilising Geo Impacts and the Social Value Calculator to track impact.