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Identifying inequalities that drive inactivity

We have thousands of data sets that tell us something about the different communities in Essex. Yet none of them tell us anything about how active our communities are, or whether bikes or bongo drums are more likely to motivate them both now and in the future. What we do know is that people who participate in less than 30 minutes of activity are at greater threat of associated health risks such as obesity, mental health issues, and social isolation.

Understanding the causes of physical inactivity is key to enabling change. That’s why ecda joined the Essex Local Delivery Pilot team (LDP) in their journey to build healthier, more active communities across Essex. By bringing together a mass of available data on health behaviours and matching it with data on things like available green spaces and fear of crime we have discovered similarities and identified which neighbourhoods in Essex are inactive and why.

Essex is one of 12 pilots chosen by Sport England to test innovative approaches that could unlock something ground-breaking for the whole country and find solutions that increase activity levels health and wellbeing of individuals and families, and that are genuinely replicable and sustainable making local communities more vibrant, connected, and resilient.

In collaboration with the LDP ecda has produce an interactive tool that allows colleagues in health, local councils, police, education etc to cluster communities within Essex and understand their likelihood of participating in less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.

The tool provides a deep level of insight into the specific drivers of inactivity, and can identify any specific challenges that may need addressing. For example, the tool shows us that Rush Green in Tendring has one of the least active communities in Essex with population, crime, and education and skills presenting the greatest challenges to activity.

This tool is available to everyone to use and is published on the Essex Open Data site here:

The insight has identified the most vulnerable communities within Essex, enabling Active Essex and its partners in Colchester, Tendring and Basildon to work with communities to design and target specific services according to their needs. The insight has informed the launch of the Basildon Street Tag app, find out more here.

As a priority Active Essex will be working with families with young children, people with poor mental health and older people in these areas to encourage local people in the communities identified to drive change and increase opportunities for people to be more active.

Active Essex is working with system leaders from health, social care, education, transport, voluntary and community, community safety, and with employers to have a cumulative impact on physical activity levels, rather than the silo working that we have been used to in the past.


Pages updated 21/07/20