Learn about the assistance we have provided Active Essex with their ambitious project to increase activity levels in Essex, UK,

The Challenge

During the Covid-19 pandemic, activity levels amongst the population fell significantly across the County of Essex. In response to this challenge, in 2021 Active Essex launched the Find Your Active Campaign which involved a major cross-county, multi-media communications campaign as well as the funding of a range of local activity projects. As part of the campaign, Active Essex also funded a range of larger projects designed to raise activity levels, including the promotion of litter picking groups and the appointment of ten Community Connectors whose role is the encourage and help their local communities get active. 

What We Did


Prior to the launch of the campaign, the NSMC conducted behaviour change training with around forty members of the Active Essex team. The purpose of this training was to embed the key concepts of social marketing within the planning phase of the project and to give the team the tools to help them understand the issues around inactivity from the perspective of the target audience. The NSMC continues to provide support on the theoretical basis of the campaign, including the underpinning behavioural theories and the Theory of Change. 


The NSMC has conducted deep dives into a range of the small and large grant projects funded by the campaign. The purpose of these deep dives is to identify examples of good practice in getting the local community active and to understand the reasons for this success. This knowledge is then cascaded throughout Active Essex to ensure that the next round of funded projects have maximum impact. We have also carried out a detailed evaluation of the impact of the innovative Community Connector role.

Getting older men active

One of the challenges that the campaign faces is helping older men overcome the barriers they face in getting active. The NSMC is carrying out research with this audience to understand these challengers in more detail and identify the key motivation factors that could be used to increase activity levels. The ultimate aim of this work is to co-create with the target audience, and then run, a pilot activity based on the results of our research. 

What We Achieved

This is an ongoing project and we continue to conduct deep dives into the funded projects and work on the older men's research. 

However, our monitoring work has identified several key characteristics of a successful activity project:

  • a clear understanding of the needs of their activity audience
  • a charismatic and enthusiastic leader
  • the use of appropriate communication channels to reach their audience; and
  • a clear plan to integrate new members into their organisation long term. 

Our evaluation of the Community Connectors role is currently being used to determine the future of these roles.