Making London the world’s most active city, one borough at a time

In 2018 I worked with the Mayor London and Bethnal Green Ventures to find the best startups and small to medium sized businesses who can help tackle our challenge in helping encourage physical activity, in particular amongst the most inactive?

Why are people inactive?

You may be a fitness freak or you may love walking through the city, but many people aren’t active for a variety of different reasons, which can change over time. Some of those are about motivation, but others are about our ability and even opportunity to be active.

You might work on your local high street or you might commute far away, with very bad public transport connections.

You may find people practising for a marathon without breaking a sweat the perfect way to get you jogging again, or you might think that physical activity just feels too much effort.

You may not feel the need to drive back from the station because you love walking through your park in the summer, or you might find it too unsafe to do so.

You may live in an area where everyone drives everywhere, or you may be on a street where your neighbours might take it turns to run a “walking bus” to get children to school.

You may live in an area that’s recently got a cycle path or you might live somewhere where you have to walk into the road because of all the road works.

You might feel ashamed to be the only person on your road not to have a car, or you might live somewhere where neighbours have closed the roads so the kids can play in the street.

You might have made friends digging up vegetables at the local allotment or going for a run for a good cause, or you might have moved somewhere where you don’t know anyone.

Don’t take our word for it, listen to the stories of residents we spend time listening to to understand how they live their lives.

Why Southall?

The amazing thing about Southall is that it’s so diverse, it’s got all of these challenges and opportunities. What I love about the neighbourhood is that people love getting together to help others and improve their community. How could you help make the best use of that to make it easier for people to get active and help others get active, their friends, their colleagues, their neighbours, their relatives!

We’ve been working with the people and organisations that make up Southall to understand how we can embed physical activity into people’s everyday lives.

That might be very practical activities like walking to work, school or the local shops. That might be being able to cycle get to the nearest train station so they can get to work. It might be about helping them learn new skills, like for newly arrived communities learning English through playing football with their neighbours. It might also be about helping them connect with other people around common interests, like growing or making food, walking dogs in the park or helping repaint your local community group.

We’ve worked with residents and communities to understand what that might look like and here’s an example of a journey by someone becoming more active in different ways. Getting active isn’t just a one-off walk, it is a journey.

Now it’s up to you, we want your ideas

A Rubik’s cube in a reverse: how to rethink ideas

Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with ideas, particularly if you’ve identified an issue that people have tried to tackle before or if you don’t have much money to make your idea happen. Likewise, it is easy to think of the technology we use the most to think of how technology could help tackle your issue. How many times have you seen an article talking about the “Facebook for x (older people, kids, err..cats)” or the “Tinder for y” (call centre workers, social impact lovers, err…secret service agents), without realising that these services didn’t exist before in the way they are designed. People will ask if your app is like Facebook, TripAdvisor or Google Maps, then why not use these existing applications?

Instead, you can take the issues, opportunities and assets you’ve identified and switch them round, almost like a Rubik’s cube in a reverse, where every combination could potentially create a new idea.

Now it’s over to you!

Head of Strategy (Communities) @camdencouncil #localgov Director @euroalter Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese