Ealing Council pilot a hyper local and community driven approach to physical activity in Havelock Southall


Using a hyper-local approach to promoting physical activity, we’ve been working with a number of key partners since October 2018, to empower people to explore, assess and connect with physical activities that are available locally. These partners include:

  •  Canal and River Trust
  •  Ealing Council including the Leisure and Public Health teams
  •  London Sport
  •  Waterside Medical centre and its Patient Participation Group
  •  Sharks Canoe Club
  •  Ealing CCG
  •  Catalyst Housing Association
  •  A range of other community providers

Ealing has been the test bed for this new and innovative approach which used a community driven model to assess and uncover the physical activity spaces, places and opportunities available to people in the Havelock neighbourhood and make the connections between the residents and their community.


Via a series of community walks, residents were empowered to become investigators and champions of better health in their own communities. The project, led by Elemental, combined the resources available from Ealing CouncilCatalyst Housing, Canal and River Trust, a number of community and voluntary sector providers and the Waterside Centre.

The programmes and services discovered and assessed by the residents included Tow Path walks, gardening, yoga, canoeing along the canal and volunteering. These activities were all included in the Elemental social prescribing digital platform.

The Elemental Platform was then used by practice nurses and GPs in Waterside Medical Centre and Catalyst Housing officers to make and manage referrals. The community were also able to refer themselves to the programme.  


Earlier this month, residents enjoyed the launch of the Havelock Healthy Walk on the stretch of the Grand Union Canal that runs through the community.

The walk has been made possible by the Canal and Rivers Trust with new digitally enabled welcome signage and step markers along the way. The new signage highlights the route along the waterway – residents, for example, can get on to the towpath at the Waterside Medical Centre (Norwood Top Lock) and leave at Bixley Triangle or Wolf Bridge.

Canal and River Trust is responsible for over 2,000 miles of towpaths in England and Wales. The towpaths in Ealing give access for traditional activities such as boating, canoeing and fishing.  They also offer sustainable journey choices, including walking, running or cycling.

In addition to the launch of the new towpath signage:

  •  30 residents are now better supported to increase their access and engagement in local programmes and services.
  •  30 local are connected and empowered to live well in a culture co-designed by them which develops skills, self-care and independence through the use of digital social prescribing.
  •  A specially designed map of the community has been placed in the Waterside Medical Centre, the Catalyst offices and the Community Shop – a community meeting space provided by Catalyst Housing.
  •  30 residents are now better supported to increase their access and engagement in local programmes and services.
  •  Two Welcome Maps have been introduced on the towpath with step count markers.
  •  NFC chips have been installed in all maps, allowing residents to connect their smartphones to the canal towpath network.
  •  12 staff have been trained to provide enhanced support for residents and reduce time spent on administrative tasks associated with signposting and impact measurement.
  •  A partnership has been established between the Medical Centre, Catalyst, providers of physical activity, enabling them to share information, what they’ve learned and increase engagement in the community.

“The Havelock neighbourhood within the Ealing area has now become a trailblazer for a number of regional/ national strategies including the 3 place based pilots using the ‘Model City’ approach advocated in the draft Mayor’s Sport Strategy.” Phil Veasey, Elemental

The launch event was interactive, informative and engaging and was attended by many stakeholders involved in creating and promoting the new walk including Phil Veasey, Community Engagement Consultant, Elemental Software, Nicola Wheeler – Havelock Neighbourhood Coordinator, Catalyst Housing, Jeannette Brooks – Development and Engagement Manager, Canal and River Trust, and our very own, Jennifer Neff – Co-founder of Elemental.

Havelock Active Living Map

Nicola Wheeler, Havelock Neighbourhood Coordinator said “It’s been great to be involved in this pilot project with Elemental in Southall. Catalyst are committed to improving lives in our neighbourhoods and people’s health and well-being is at the heart of that. The project has brought together a range of partners and providers delivering activities locally and helped us all to work together around a shared objective. We are looking forward to seeing the results of the pilot and to continuing to work together as a partnership.”

Phil Veasey, Elemental said “We are hoping that the Havelock project is here for the long term as we have been busy co-producing the foundations for a new way of working in the community.We are also hoping that we have produced a range of insights to support the implementation of Lets Go Southall, inform the implementation of social prescribing in Ealing, provide a trailblazer for the roll out of a Primary Care Network in Southall, and inspire the 3 place based pilots using the ‘Model City’ approach advocated in the draft Mayor’s Sport Strategy.”


Julia Robertson, Sports Development Manager – Ealing Council said “Ealing Council took part in the GLA’s Civic Innovation Challenge to add value to the Let’s Go Southall pilot project funded by Sport England; we wanted to work with a partner to develop solutions that would help inactive residents become more physically active. We were particularly keen on seeing how digital and data based solutions could potentially support the most inactive people to become more active in their everyday lives and connect more with their wider community. Working in partnership with Elemental has been a new and very enjoyable experience; just speaking to like-minded motivated people from a different sector has provided us with opportunities to learn about what’s working elsewhere, what new initiatives are being piloted and adopted to help improve people’s mental and physical wellbeing and how new technologies can support this work. The digital world is not an area most Council’s and health services know much about, so this project has given us an insight into what’s out there and how this sector can support our aim of getting people more active.

Here’s a round-up of an incredible launch event. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with these fantastic organisations and people with a shared vision to improve lives through social prescribing and physical activity.


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