The Power of Active Conversations

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Conversations can be powerful, particularly when they come from people we know and trust. When they’re done in the right way, conversations have the power to transform how we think, feel, and behave. However, even with the best of intentions, they can also leave us feeling flat, defensive, even defiant when done in the wrong way.

Within our work with community groups, organisations and institutions, we have found that a  significant opportunity for how physical activity can be designed and embedded is through individuals, volunteers and staff who are on the frontline talking about moving and being active with people they are connected to.

When done in the right way, these interactions provide a great opportunity to support an individual to have greater confidence in their ability to be active, feel like moving and being active is for them, and even help people to start to plan how they will go about it.

But we know that having good conversations isn’t always easy. Through our partnership working we have discovered that often frontline staff across health and social care and community organisations lack the confidence and/or the techniques to have good conversations about moving and being active with the people they are connected to.

Therefore, to improve the skills, confidence, and abilities of individuals and staff to have good active conversations we have invested in Moving Medicine ‘Active Conversations’ training.

The training provides techniques for how to have active conversations for different lengths of time, especially shorter timeframes – even if it’s only 1 minute, as we have learned that often time is limited. So far in Calderdale we’ve worked with multiple organisations and services across different systems to train more than 150 frontline staff in how to have good active conversations, and it’s proving to be successful in giving people the skills and abilities they need.  

We know conversations won’t ‘solve’ inactivity on their own, but we also know they are part of the solution in helping to create a ‘system’ that builds and sustains individual motivation, capability and opportunity to move and be active.

We are grateful to have individuals, organisations, and services from across the borough committed to supporting people to move and be active through good conversations, here’s a story from one of our participants in the Active Conversations training:

A view from a walking meeting in Calderdale

I’m the Outreach Manager for the Children’s Centres in the Upper Valley and my role involves managing the staff in the centre who deliver on the groundwork. I was given the responsibility of being the lead for Active Calderdale for our Children’s Centre because I had some free space, but I was very surprised as I’m the least fit member of the management team! I’m really glad I got the opportunity to lead on Active Calderdale and it’s been transformational for me, a really positive experience.

I completed the Moving Medicine Active Conversations training and it’s changed my perspectives on physical activity and made me realise it’s easy to have a conversation with someone about activity when you have the skills and confidence to do so. Having a conversation for one minute, for example, about activity is achievable and it’s a real possibility to integrate this into our teams. I’m keen for the rest of our team to do the training and then we can use our skills with all the families we work with and help encourage them and provide them with support to be active.

We’ve now started doing walking visits and meetings with families, we’re looking at how we can include this in our procedures and making it a routine part of every family we work with, and we’ve now got some active packs, which all fits together well. We’re also looking at linking it across different community friends groups as well and working with them to offer other activities

Eleanor Naylor, Halifax Opportunities Trust

Are you interested in having better active conversations? Email to register your interest in our Active Conversations Training. You can also view our Active Welcome Pack and download our active conversation cards to help get you started.