Edge Hill University commissions KKP to lead strategic review


ISSUE DATE: 1 February 2022


Edge Hill University commissions KKP to lead strategic review

Edge Hill University has commissioned KKP to undertake a strategic review of its highly regarded sport and physical activity services.

Building upon the positive reputation already enjoyed by Edge Hill, the process will consider how to further enhance the role of sport and physical activity as an important aspect of university life and the student experience. In so doing it will review and consider where and how the University can build upon the social, cultural and educational role that the University already plays and further enhance its impact on the health and wellbeing of students, staff and the wider community. It will also consider the relationship between Edge Hill Sport and the courses run, and opportunities provided by, the University’s three academic faculties.

Rachel Burke, principal consultant at KKP as well as a graduate of Edge Hill University, will be leading KKP’s project team.

Rachel commented: “Sport and physical activity have long been recognised as a fundamental aspect of university life and has always been at the heart of Edge Hill. The University has been at the forefront of making sport and physical activity an intrinsic part of the student experience. This review will assist it to build on its many achievements in this field. As a former EHU student, it is of course a great thrill and an honour to be coming back to work with Edge Hill having built my own career in and around sport and physical activity. I can’t wait to get started.”

Paul Greenwood, Head of Sport and Commercial Services at Edge Hill commented: “We have always recognised and promoted sport and physical activity as an important part of university life. This review will enable us to build on our strengths and successes in this area and explore how we can better integrate sport and physical activity with other areas of university operation and the quality of the Edge Hill student experience. We are of course delighted to welcome Rachel back in her role as a respected and highly experienced sport and physical activity professional. She will notice many changes since she was here as a student and will be able to help us make sure that Edge Hill University remains at the forefront of creating positive opportunities and experiences for students, staff and the local community.”

Based on a 160-acre campus in Lancashire, Edge Hill University was recognised in two categories – Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community and Support for Students – in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) awards. It was also named Modern University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022. The institution has been providing higher education since 1885, with a mission to “create opportunity from knowledge”.

This commission builds on KKP’s extensive recent work in the sector which includes strategic planning and review assignments with and on behalf of: Salford, Aston. Warwick and Birmingham universities in England, Robert Gordon and Glasgow Caledonian in Scotland, Aberystwyth and Cardiff in Wales and Ulster and UC Cork in Ireland.


Rachel Burke is available for interview. Please contact KKP via 0161 764 7040 or email rachel.burke@kkp.co.uk

KKP is online at www.kkp.co.uk


Notes for editors

  • KKP is a leading UK-based multi-disciplinary national and international practice operating from offices in Manchester. It offers specialist advice and impartial, objective and creative consultancy support to a wide portfolio of clients. Full details of KKP’s work, clients and projects are available at www.kkp.co.uk.
  • Edgehill University is online at www.edgehill.ac.uk. Edge Hill University’s Department of Sport and Physical Activity offers a variety of degrees including coaching, management, physical education, sport and exercise psychology, and sports therapy, which prepare students for a diverse range of careers.
  • Edge Hill University Press Office can be contacted on 01695 654 372 and by email at press@edgehill.ac.uk



Inclusivity: it’s all about the numbers

The new Activity Alliance strategy is an important document but real change for disability inclusion sport requires a counter-intuitive approach to what is not only a sector of society that consistently misses out but also a significant market sector. John Eady makes the social and business case for inclusivity.


The Covid crisis has spawned a whole range of challenges and reassessments, not least access to, and the importance of, being physically active. Across the UK the pandemic has had a real impact on activity levels and for every heart-warming story of people discovering the joys of the great outdoors there are many more (largely untold) tales of those for whom lockdown has reinforced the absence of, or further limited, their opportunities to be active.

This is highlighted by data presented by the Activity Alliance, the national charity for disability inclusion sport. Its new three-year strategy, titled Achieving Fairness, takes access to opportunity for activity as its starting point and cites a poll in which 72% of disabled people agree that lockdown has made this less fair for disabled people.

Addressing declining levels of activity for disabled people is a main strand of the strategy but the Activity Alliance rightly reminds us that the problem existed before the Covid-19 crisis; before the pandemic disabled people were twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people.

Achieving Fairness sets out the ambition to close this activity gap “within a generation” and explains how the Activity Alliance intends to do this. There are two clear goals: changing attitudes towards disabled people and embedding inclusive practice in sport and activity. These inform four key objectives: championing the voices of disabled people; using expertise and insight to educate, inform and influence; addressing inequalities via collaboration, engagement and delivery; and maximising the effective use of investment.

This is all very well but there is an argument that this strategy is a little too measured (or perhaps unmeasured) in its challenge to sport and leisure providers. The sport and leisure sector needs to be challenged and the key to genuine inclusivity for disabled people lies in the numbers. For example, 18% of the working-age population in Britain is disabled, as defined as by the Equality Act 2010 [Source: Employers’ Forum on Disability]. So, even leaving out older people (among whom this the proportion rises substantially) and the under 18s, there is a market of seven million people with spending power, a market that is, to a substantial degree, unserved.

Where I would take issue with the Activity Alliance is its headline aim related to changing attitudes to disability and disabled people. The fact that its polling shows that 85% of adults agree that attitudes to disability need to improve is, I would argue, indicative of a general positivity. The real problem is a Rumsfeld-ian one: in the most part those who matter don’t know what they don’t know.

This lack of knowledge, context and comprehension has a direct effect. Providers and those who are (or should be) charged with responsibility to make a relevant offer to attract and accommodate disabled people have no concept of the overall scale of the market in their locality; nor do many have a clear idea, in performance terms, of what attracting an appropriate proportion of the ‘disability market’ should look like.

It is simply insufficient to have facilities accessible to, and staff trained to work with, disabled people if no one with a disability is turning up. Why shouldn’t facility operators and other deliverers of services commissioned by local authorities be charged with responsibility to attract and entertain a predetermined proportion of this market?

That said, it is also incumbent upon local authorities in particular, but also others, to start to develop and facilitate communications mechanisms that enable people with disabilities and other defined needs to be ‘in the system’, offering the option to know about, attend or at the very least turn down options to take part.

Sam Orde, the chair of Activity Alliance, is quite right when he says, “It is not right or fair that disabled people continue to miss out on the huge benefits of being active.” But it not just a case of the sport and leisure sector failing to serve the needs of a significant part of the community. Disabled people as a ‘market’ are simply not on the radar so it is hardly surprising that not enough is being done to cater for them. In addition, ignoring or excluding a major market sector is bad business and a failure of fiscal responsibility.

The key to inclusivity is for the sport and leisure sector to place the right to be informed alongside the practical commercial value of the one fifth of the population that has a disability. Embedding inclusive practices within sport and physical activity requires what some may see as a counter-intuitive approach. Instead of treating disabled people as a sector of the community that needs help, the sport and leisure sector should, perhaps, treat disabled people as a market sector estimated to spend £80 billion per year [Source: DWP], a sector to be targeted using all the modern marketing technology and techniques at our disposal.

Being inclusive is about the numbers. If 20% of the catchment area for your facilities has a disability, how many disabled users and members should you have? And how many have you got? In the gap lies the key to greater inclusivity, better business, improved social return on investment and achieving fairness.


John Eady is chief executive at KKP

Find the Activity Alliance online at http://www.activityalliance.org.uk/

Find the Achieving Fairness strategy document via the Activity Alliance website at http://www.activityalliance.org.uk/about-us/our-work/strategy



June 2021

The great indoors: taking the hassle out of community use of school facilities

There may be light at the end of Covid-10 crisis tunnel but sport and leisure may need to grasp the opportunity to adopt new approaches to perennial problems. Clare MacLeod, principal consultant at KKP, suggests that Badminton England’s facility strategy might be a step in the right direction


News of encouraging results in several of the coronavirus vaccine trials has re-ignited hope. With so much damage done to individuals, communities and businesses, could there be a chance to insert an LED bulb into the light at the end of the tunnel for the sport and leisure sector?

Not wishing to get carried away, the answer might be a cautious ‘maybe’, perhaps even a hesitant ‘yes’, but lessons have to be learned and opportunities grasped if we are to emerge from 2020 with a functioning sector able to survive and build upon the lessons learnt through multiple lockdowns.

One issue we face at present is the trauma of facility-based sports. Badminton, gymnastics, netball and basketball, to name perhaps the most visible, are struggling to find much to celebrate at the moment. Clubs are seeing income from memberships drop, the relevant national governing bodies (NGB) are taking a hit on affiliation fees and, perhaps potentially most damaging, players are being forced to find different things to do with their leisure time. It doesn’t take long for people’s lifestyles and habits to change; many clubs are concerned that, after prolonged lay-offs from their sport, people will have embarked on alternative activities. While facility-based sports ponder the huge opportunity costs of lost play, promotion and development activity, large chunks of the rest of the sport and leisure sector are heavily at risk from the impact of lockdown on physical activity of all kinds.

One of the earliest and most obvious lockdown problems for sports that hire rather than own facilities was access to indoor space. This has been exacerbated by a very high proportion of public leisure centre sports halls being given over (in part or in full) to other activities, predominantly those related to health and fitness, which ‘pays the bills’ in so many facilities.

Badminton has been working on this issue of access to courts (of the right quality and at the right times) for years but the NGB’s current facility strategy, drawn up just prior to the Covid crisis, sees access to school facilities as a potential solution. Community use of school facilities is far from new as a concept but in a post-lockdown environment it looks like an even better option for sustainable access to court space.

However, this requires a new approach if it is going to solve the problem – or part of it at least – in any effective way. The model currently being explored by Badminton England is for the NGB to support local clubs, leagues and/or coaches to gear up and function as operators of the community use of school facilities. This means them taking on the management function for out-of-hours letting to guarantee court access for badminton players, offer additional space to other users and provide a financial return to schools with minimal school staff involvement in the administration process.

As Nick Rimmer, head of development at Badminton England, explained, such an approach offers a real opportunity to make community-use facilities genuinely accessible.

“We don’t have many badminton-specific facilities and our clubs do not normally own their own venues” Nick said. “There are a few exceptions, probably 20 at most across the country, but we tend to find that better development and progression comes from these clubs. As an NGB, we recognise that having that control over facility access and, vitally, programming leads to better development work, from engagement to performance.

“Even before Covid we were seeing sports hall closures and those that were open becoming smaller in terms of court space and more expensive as the demand for other activities grows. It creates a real challenge for clubs that wish to grow and develop.”

Seeking to turn this around, Badminton England started looking at what it could do help clubs and coaches to run their own facilities. Schools are the obvious starting point for this. Research recently published by the Sport and Recreation Alliance shows that 45% of all sports facilities in England are located on ‘education sites’ yet 46% of these were not available to the community for use pre-Covid-19. This means that almost one quarter of all sports hall space is inaccessible to the public.

But how to make it work better than it has in the past so as to create a practical and sustainable route to facilities for badminton?

“It’s been done on a small scale before,” Nick said, “but we’re generally at the whim of sports hall operators. The challenge is to be a little more imaginative in our thinking and look at whether it can be done on a larger scale. Could a club take over a sports hall for several nights per week and build a programme of community use? It’s something we’re exploring while looking to work with these same clubs to put them on a firmer footing.”

The numbers suggest it is an option with huge potential. There are around 4,000 secondary schools in the country and most have a three- or four-court sports hall. That is all most clubs need if they can obtain the requisite programme time. Badminton England’s figures illustrate that around 500,000 people play the sport every two weeks, 50,000 of whom are NGB members. This suggests considerable demand for facility operators (in this case clubs on behalf of schools) to tap into. With so much play being recreational rather than club-based and so many players struggling to find court time, there would seem to be an opportunity for clubs to offer self-managed pay-and-play options within their allocated court time if the booking and management aspect of the letting process can be made to work for all parties. Badminton England is looking to develop core models that are straightforward and replicable for clubs and schools across the country.

Nick acknowledges that this is a big commitment for a club but the badminton-specific centres operating at the moment demonstrate what an impact dedicated facilities can have.

“We’re not looking to take over the world,” Nick said, “but if we can get a few examples working well we can then look to see what will work. We’re looking at a variety of models for badminton but there is no reason why netball and others could not replicate that model with a little help and support.”

The prospect of an NGB being closely involved with facility management also offers an opportunity for the use of schemes such as Clubmark to shape development and behaviours. Offering priority to clubs and leagues that can demonstrate that they are inclusive and safe, with all the positive habits that Clubmark encourages, would be a step in the right direction. A sport with clubs able to demonstrate that that they can deliver the ‘full circle’ of safe, high-quality sporting experiences has a head start in developing the sport and generating membership revenue.

From an education perspective, sports like badminton and netball have a relatively low physical impact on facilities, and the involvement of the NGB providing oversight and quality assurance in the letting process should ensure that schools get a good (and secure) financial return. They can, thus, be confident that clubs managing and using their facilities are appropriately affiliated and that their sports spaces are making a real contribution to the development of sporting opportunity for their students and the local community.

Such a vision undoubtedly involves a level of sophistication beyond that demonstrated to date in respect of community access to schools but that does not mean it could not happen now. Schools have appropriate facilities, court-based sports can bring a long-term, consistent and continuous demand for space, and the impact of the Covid crisis on leisure centre facilities means that operator access to school sites makes more sense than ever.

My own suggestion would be for a sports county governing body, or even perhaps an innovative active partnership, to establish a relationship with two or three schools, becoming the operator for its sports halls and providing coaching and financial benefit to the school (or academy network) in return for access.

At the moment it looks as if the damage done to the sport and leisure sector by the Covid crisis will be with us for a very long time but Badminton England is at least attempting to grasp the opportunity presented by the need for a new approach to existing problems. Let’s see if it can make it work.

Clare MacLeod is a Director and Principal Consultant at KKP

Contact Clare on clare.macleod@kkp.co.uk 


November 2020

Major events, major issues

Tim Holdsworth considers the impact of a calendar devoid of major participation events and wonders whether the scale of the loss will highlight the contribution they make to the UK’s cultural and sporting life.


In 2020 the London Marathon took take place in October for the first time. The fortieth staging of the event served as a reminder of the extraordinary challenges set by the Covid crisis and the exceptional capacity for innovation demonstrated by those determined to make the best of tough times. The 2020 event was an elite-only race run on a park circuit in the centre of the capital but all around the world thousands of other runners took part in a virtual marathon, earning their medals remotely and ensuring that the spirit of the event is maintained.

The London Marathon is one of the biggest events of the UK sporting calendar. Every spring for the last four decades it has brought huge numbers of people onto the streets, all with a wide variety of roles and motivations.

There are the participants, of course, each with their own reasons for taking on the challenge of a marathon. Each has their own network of supporters, family and friends, helping them on the day or making their training possible over the preceding months. Also in attendance are the many thousands of spectators there simply to be part of an uplifting event and cheer the runners on. Next, there are the thousands of volunteers working at the water stations, the start village and the finish line, making sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible and representatives of the charities for whom the Marathon is one of the biggest annual fund-raising opportunities. On top of these we have the staff who work for the organising company, the local authorities, the media and other agencies who are on hand or behind the scenes to make the event possible and safe.

Add to all these the millions of us watching the whole affair on television from the safety of our sofas and you begin to get some idea of the scale of the event and its reach beyond the streets on the day.

And it is not just the London Marathon. From the Great North Run and the Manchester Marathon through to local half-marathons and 10K runs, a whole range of events all over the country provide a focal point for participation and motivation for those who wish to write their own sporting story.

It is easy to underestimate the impact of all these on participation and physical activity, particularly when a whole calendar of events has disappeared. How many people have been inspired to get active by seeing the London Marathon on TV, reading about one in their own area or seeing a local event in person on the streets of their own towns and cities? How many people are missing the camaraderie and inspiration of their local Park Run or club meeting…or looking ruefully at the darkening evenings and thinking that they should have been planning their training schedule for next spring’s event?

The cancellation of all these events has a profound impact beyond those intending to take part. A great many local charities rely on them as fund-raising opportunities and the loss of the related contributions will put a big hole in their revenue streams. Clubs often use events to raise their own funds, whether by supplying support staff for larger major mass participation or making them a focal point for their own club activity. Plus, even beyond this, we should not forget all the local suppliers – the sign-makers, the marquee companies, the stewarding companies – who will not be generating business from event organisers.

If we are trying to salvage something encouraging from our current, rather bleak circumstances, we might hope that this loss (albeit, we hope temporary) of events will strengthen our understanding and appreciation of the impacts, networks and motivations that they create, whatever their scale or what the headline activity may be.

In addition, while we can apply long-established formulae and models for calculating and demonstrating the economic impact of events, it is easy to overlook the value of the unexpected connections and unintended consequences they provide. Each person who puts on their trainers and steps out of their front door for the first time has their own unique mix of hopes and motivations but you can bet that an image of, or a story from, an event is in there somewhere.

The Covid crisis has clearly had a huge impact on the commercial event operators (we’ll look at this in more depth in another blog post soon) but many companies report that the majority of participants are carrying over their entries to next year. We can only hope that this will be a case of motivation and inspiration postponed rather than vanished, and that having seen what we’ve lost we will appreciate its return that much more.


Tim Holdsworth is a senior consultant at KKP.

Contact Tim at tim.holdsworth@kkp.co.uk


October 2020

NEWS RELEASE: EFL Day of Action highlights research findings and celebrates impact of football on local communities

ISSUE DATE: 10 March 2020


EFL Day of Action highlights research findings and celebrates impact of football on local communities

KKP analysis demonstrates scale and value of club/CCO impact


The EFL will be celebrating the positive impact of professional football clubs on their local communities today (Tuesday 10 March) following the publication of research carried out by KKP on behalf of the EFL Trust.

Football clubs across the Sky Bet Championship, League One and League Two will be taking part in the EFL Day of Action showcasing the programmes and activities that EFL clubs and their club community organisations (CCOs) deliver to help with a wide range of social issues, including diversity and inclusion, education, and health and wellbeing.

The report, produced by KKP and titled Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community, shows that over a 12-month period EFL clubs/CCOs delivered some 562,000 hours of group activity, involved more than 886,000 people, and spent over £62.8 million on social and community projects. The study comprises the first comprehensive overview of club-based involvement in, and impact on, local communities and, viewed collectively, the whole of England.

Findings were based on a three-stage methodology devised by KKP in conjunction with the EFL and EFL Trust to apply common measures to the national network of clubs/CCOs, creating a clear national picture underpinned by robust data. The methodology comprised initial analysis of work carried out by clubs/CCOs, followed by a detailed pilot study of eight EFL clubs and, finally, the roll out of comprehensive survey to all EFL clubs nationally.

Rick Parry, EFL chair, introduced and acknowledged the importance of the report, commenting: “Our clubs have always had a unique position at the heart of their respective towns and cities, so it is important that we celebrate some of the fantastic work being carried out on a daily basis, and also understand the effect that clubs have on their individual and collective communities. Commissioned by the EFL to survey all EFL clubs and club community organisations, KKP has provided a unique study which allows us to demonstrate what clubs do on a national scale.”

KKP chief executive John Eady commented: “KKP’s extensive experience in the field of impact evaluation and specialist performance measurement expertise enabled us to devise a research method that generated the data and developed the analysis to demonstrate the huge community impact – and potential – of EFL clubs/CCOs.”

John Eady continued: “Over the course of the research more than one million data cells were produced and analysed. This was a huge task for Peter Millward and the KKP data team, which also applied a whole raft of geographic, socio-economic and household data to deliver results that were credible, insightful and replicable. The 93% response rate for the survey makes for robust, comprehensive data and is a testament to the effort and commitment of the KKP team to the project.”

In addition to a national report and dataset, KKP produced specific reports for each club and CCO. Each includes a catchment area profile (age structure, total population, projected population, deprivation measures and maps, ethnic composition, income, benefits dependency, crime rates, health indicators and activity rates) and findings related to participation, engagement, purpose, environment and funding.

The national picture that has emerged confirms the scale, human resources and time deployed in programmes that are covering: sport and physical activity; health and wellbeing; education and employability programmes; and community engagement.

Within the Measuring the Impact of EFL Clubs in the Community report, the EFL notes: “Looking ahead, a comprehensive baseline now exists that is not only informative in its own right but enables a more insightful strategic approach nationally and at individual clubs/CCOs.”

Notes for editors



The FA National Football Facilities Strategy: delivering a nationwide set of local football facility plans

KKP’s work on behalf of the FA to deliver a local football facility plan (LFFP) for every local authority is nearing completion. Andrew Fawkes explains how it has been done and what it means for local football.

Grassroots football facilities, their poor condition and impact on the pathway to performance of our national team are perennially emotive issues faced by the FA and frequently raised in the national media. However, the FA is now implementing a 10-year strategy to change the landscape of football facilities in England. This is underpinned by an action plan for investment in every local authority, referred to as a Local Football Facility Plan (LFFP).

KKP is leading delivery of the LFFP programme, working hand in hand with county FAs. This process has run over an intensive two-year period and is scheduled to be completed by mid-2020.

Working in partnership with the UK Government, the Premier League, Sport England and the Football Foundation, the FA is setting out its response to, and estimating the costs of addressing, the needs of grassroots football in light of KKP’s work. Feedback on existing facilities received as part of the LFFP process consistently mirrors that of the national strategy. It is a picture of poor-quality grass pitches, changing pavilions in need of improvement, and insufficient access to floodlit, artificial grass (3G) football turf pitches (FTPs). The cumulative ask in terms of capital investment required is huge but the FA is also playing catch-up in terms of facility numbers; England has only half the number of 3G pitches of its European footballing neighbours.

Having now spoken directly to over 2,000 grassroots football clubs, nearly 300 local authorities plus a range of other stakeholders (not to mention covering thousands of motorway miles), our team has identified an excellent portfolio of pipeline projects. Surrey is one of the areas with high potential; it is also one of the largest and most diverse of the FA’s counties. The Surrey County FA serves an area with a population of over two million people, 4,000 teams and more than 40,000 registered players. It encompasses the 11 boroughs and districts in the Surrey County Council domain plus five London boroughs. It is also an area where the county FA takes a strong lead on facilities development.

Quite a few community clubs in Surrey are, in terms of levels of demand and their management capacity, capable of taking on full-sized FTPs in their own right. As an example, following KKP’s work on Waverley Borough Council’s playing pitch strategy (PPS) and now its LFFP, several projects are either in the pipeline or are now on the point of delivery. Some of these are supported by significant Section 106 funding and all are benefitting from strategic engagement with the Football Foundation.

Of the 330 LFFPs commissioned, 70% are now signed off and being activated by county FAs working with the Football Foundation Engagement Team.  From KKP’s perspective, it is highly encouraging to note that stakeholder feedback on the LFFP development process is very positive; across all plan elements, more than 93% of those who expressed a specific view confirmed the usefulness and accuracy of their plan’s content.

This overwhelmingly positive feedback is a strong endorsement of the methodology KKP has developed over many years of experience in this field. It is also a testament to the hard work the KKP team puts in on the ground, visiting sites and engaging with clubs and communities in situ to develop real insight into facilities and the opportunities they can deliver.

Andrew Fawkes is a Principal Consultant with KKP. Contact him at andrew.fawkes@kkp.co.uk

Details of the LFFP programme are available via the Football Foundation website at https://localplans.footballfoundation.org.uk

(Figures based upon receipt of 318 responses from local authorities, county FAs and other stakeholders). 


14 February 2020

NEWS RELEASE: New commission takes KKP to playing pitch century

Issue date: 11 February 2020

New commission takes KKP to playing pitch century
100 playing pitch strategies since new Sport England guidance

Knight, Kavanagh and Page (KKP) reached its playing pitch strategy (PPS) century with the recent commission from Halton Borough Council. This will be the 100th PPS that KKP has undertaken since publication of the Sport England PPS Guidance in mid-2013.

Playing pitch strategies are commissioned to ensure that funding is invested effectively, reaching the right pitches in the right places. Sport England recommends that all local authorities have an up-to-date PPS in order to meet the recreational, sporting and physical activity needs of local communities. They now also underpin the FA’s Local Football Facilities Plan for each local authority in England.

Claire Fallon, KKP director and principal consultant who leads KKP’s work in this discipline, commented: “Our 100th PPS commission since the Sport England guidance is a significant milestone, both for KKP as an organisation and for the concept of a proper planning process for playing pitches, which are fundamental to sport at all levels and in all areas of the country.”

Claire continued: “The number of PPS commissions KKP receives is testament to the hard work that our team puts in, gathering the most robust data possible, getting out to speak to users and seeing the facilities for themselves. Our team makes it their responsibility to visit every site and talk to anyone and everyone who might be a user or stakeholder. They take great pride in getting their boots muddy in the line of duty.”

KKP’s approach to preparing a PPS emphasises the importance of site visits, a detailed inter-personal consultation process, and the compilation of comprehensive reliable data. Site visits enable the KKP team not only to log every facility but also to assess the scale, quality and accessibility of each pitch, along with the opportunities it might represent. The consultation process involves numerous face-to-face and telephone interviews, ensuring the full engagement of all stakeholders, while the company’s geographic information systems (GIS) team provides a huge resource, mapping demographic and participation data, and evaluating the impact of population increases and housing development to underpin the process.

KKP chief executive John Eady commented: “This is our 100th PPS since the Sport England guidance was published but KKP has been delivering them since 2002, so we have actually done a great many more. Our track record was the reason for KKP’s selection to the 2010 PPS consultants framework and also what prompted Sport England to commission KKP to draft the PPS guidance on its behalf. This was published in 2013 and we were pleased to be able to make our knowledge and experience available to such a wide audience.”

Eady continued: “KKP’s reputation and client base in this field has grown rapidly, primarily because we commit ourselves to the highest standards and the quality of our work is founded on the most detailed evidence base in the sector. This approach means hard work but our insistence on working this way is based on the fact that face-to-face consultation unearths realistic, robust issues and better identifies demand. Our success in this field suggests that clients recognise and value our commitment to high standards and high-quality outcomes.”

Notes for editors

• Further details of KKP’s work on playing pitch strategies and in all aspects of the fields of sport, leisure and planning are available via the KKP website at www.kkp.co.uk
• Claire Fallon and John Eady are available for interview. Please contact KKP via 0161 764 7040 or email mail@kkp.co.uk
• The Sport England document Playing Pitch Strategy Guidance: An Approach to Developing and Delivering a Playing Pitch Strategy is available via the Sport England website at: www.sportengland.org/facilities-and-planning 
• The KKP post-project completion survey undertaken with all clients between 2014-2019 showed that more than 97% of clients would recommend KKP to others and more than 93% were prepared to be referees.

Importance of quality

KKP’s approach to quality and customer service has served its clients well over the course of 30 years of business. John Eady explains how and why quality is central to the Company’s modus operandi.

Maya Angelou, the American poet, singer and civil rights activist, said, “People forget what you said. They forget what you did. But they never forget how you made them feel.”

KKP is a busy consultancy practice with a great many projects running at once and it is easy to get caught up in what we do, what we think we have achieved for our clients and the great service provided. However, although we do excellent work, it is essential never to forget that it is the client that matters most. Great customer service is measured by whether, at the end of the assignments, clients feels that they made the right decision in choosing KKP to deliver the strategy or solve their problem. Even when we disagree with a client’s point of view – and it is fundamentally important that we are able to disagree – it is vital that they know that we are on their side and committed to helping them.

The absolute underpinning of this is quality. Fully rounded, the concept of quality draws upon a wide variety of elements, skills and behaviours: open-mindedness; listening and hearing; knowledge, experience and expert analysis; plus the confidence to reflect and challenge. However, at the top of the list of the essentials of quality would have to be: attitude, communication and commitment to the client’s interest.

KKP first acquired ISO9001 quality certification in 2007 – for project management and delivery – as part of a determination to put quality at the centre of our business. We have been successfully reassessed every year since, up to and including 2019. ISO, in effect, drives continual review and improvement across all work areas. It subjects the organisation to regular interrogation and oversight by expert external assessors but ultimately the quality of our operation will be judged by our clients.

On project completion, all clients are asked to evaluate and rate us on the following criteria:

  • The final product delivered: how well we met the brief, attention to detail, the quality of work undertaken and the report/strategy/feasibility study/evaluation produced.
  • The quality of client communication, support and advice, both during and after the delivery of the contract.
  • On-time delivery and the meeting of deadlines, with regard to overall outcomes and interim project milestones.
  • The extent to which they consider us to have delivered value for money.

Between 2014 and December 2019 KKP received completed feedback from 126 clients; two thirds of these were local authorities with the balance from a combination of national governing bodies of sport (NGBs), planning consultancies and developers, universities, leisure trusts and active partnerships. All the feedback we receive is scored and analysed; we believe the results speak for themselves. Most notably, virtually all (more than 97%) would recommend us to others and more than 93% are prepared to be referees.

In 2020 KKP entered its 30th continuous year in business so there is a good chance that our clients know who we are, how we work and what they are going to get in terms of our experience, attitude and ethos. After three decades of working across a range of professional sectors on a wide variety of projects with a huge number of clients, we have come to the conclusion that the process of choosing and working with a consultancy can be boiled down to the following fundamentals:

  • Choose a practice that you know will look to learn with you from any subject or situation.
  • Work with people who do not come with fixed ideas about how things are supposed to be and how to handle them.
  • Value truth and integrity above all other things; they are the key to high-quality consultancy and without them the support you get will be of limited, if any, value.
  • Choose people who will go into battle for you (and if necessary – behind closed doors – with you) to ensure the right outcome.

When you are choosing a consultancy keep these fundamentals in mind. Investing in quality is always worth the cost.

Client rating of KKP delivery (as of 31 December 2019)


7 February 2020

When it comes to transforming volunteering, beware of transformation

Volunteering underpins a huge proportion of community life but how can we make the volunteering experience better for volunteers and the organisations who rely on their help? John Eady offers some thoughts.

Across the UK volunteering is recognised as the keystone of community life. The huge amount of time and activity delivered by volunteers is, quite rightly, celebrated as an essential contribution to the work of the many organisations that depend on them. The support, devotion and assistance of this unpaid workforce is of enormous value to the recipient organisations and has a profound impact on lives, environments and opportunities within communities all over the country. Of no less importance are the significant health, wellbeing and personal development benefits that good volunteering can have for the individuals who give their time.

Note the use of the word ‘good’ here: good volunteering is the key. Given that so much of the nation’s sporting and cultural life is dependent upon volunteering, it is vitally important that we get it right. Making volunteering a positive experience, both for the volunteers that contribute and the organisations that rely upon them, is crucial but it is not easy and it is not always done well. Working with volunteers and managing the volunteer experience needs to be much better if our volunteering culture is to thrive.


Transforming the volunteering experience to maximise the effectiveness of the contributions being made does not necessarily require seismic shifts in the volume or type of work being undertaken. However, volunteers do need support. If this support is to be effective there needs to be a clear understanding of who our volunteers are, what they do, why they do it and what value their volunteering delivers, both for themselves and to the organisations with which they work.

Lead agencies and organisations need to be committed to volunteer development but they also need to be clear from the outset about the ways in which the programmes, venues and networks supported by volunteers will be funded in the future. A great many sports venues, parks and open spaces, along with all the opportunities they create, will depend upon this – and the volunteers who lend their time, energy and goodwill so prodigiously deserve nothing less.


Equally vital is clarity about positive and negative volunteer involvement, remembering to differentiate between the value of engagement for the participating volunteer and the organisation receiving the input. Experience suggests that while the overwhelming majority of volunteering input is founded on good intentions, the outcomes do not always end up matching the original ambition.

Organisations looking to transform the volunteer experience and the effectiveness of the volunteering input need to be clear about their own direction, contribution and outcomes. They also need to be clear about the management, funding and ownership of the environments, bodies and programmes to which their volunteers are contributing.

Within communities across the UK there is a whole raft of societies, ‘friends of’ groups, and voluntary clubs that adopt and perform a variety of stewardship roles for open spaces, sport, physical activity, allotments, parks, village and parish halls, play areas and community recreation facilities. In all these environments getting the desired transformation will depend upon a balance between, on one side, the support, engagement and co-ordination that might be interpreted as the imposition of ‘bureaucracy’, and the positive enhancement of the work of smaller groups and individual volunteers on the other.

All this work must also take into account the issues associated with, for example, age, gender, ethnicity, experience, and areas of high and multiple deprivation. There will also be local and project-specific improvement tools and mechanisms to be considered, including associated motivation and reward factors. When it comes to volunteering and working with volunteers, numerous strategies, processes and resources have been tried, tested and (to a lesser degree) evaluated. They may be of help to your improvement process.


If we’re talking about transforming the volunteering experience, the use of term ‘transformation’ might imply that volunteers on the ground, the ‘volunteers in charge’ and the professionals who manage and interact with volunteers have fully thought through what it is that they ask for and why. In truth, in the majority of cases a great many activities will have evolved around the need to react to local changes and circumstances. Across the annual (and longer-term) cycle of sport, arts, culture, open space, voluntary body or parks operations, more than we might like to admit will be based upon the characters of those interacting in the process rather than any specific overarching ambition.


All this means that any support provided must strike a balance: between leading and dictating; between direction and empowerment; between instruction and engagement. This support also needs to fit with the groups and individuals through which agencies look to ‘invest’ in excellent volunteer practices that align with their own strategic objectives.

Excellence in volunteer practices might include, for example: volunteer quality, recruitment and retention, improved communication and evaluation processes, a broader workforce with less pressure on key individuals, greater capacity to grow the workforce, and an ability to deliver an excellent experience for those involved.

Such processes need to consider and/or incorporate the key elements of a good volunteer experience, along with the skills and knowledge needed to enable the delivery of such an experience:

Examples of key elements of a good volunteer experience

 Preparation for the role
 Honesty about realistic time commitments
 Clarity about their place in the decision-making hierarchy, areas of influence, etc
 Whether roles are based on single or multiple tasks
 Levels of guidance and direction needed; and levels of guidance and direction actually available
 Volunteer induction when starting and when taking on a new role
 Volunteers’ understanding of, and respect for, each other’s roles
 Progress evaluation, recognition, appreciation and thanks, whether delivered personally or publicly.

Examples of the skills and knowledge needed to enable delivery of a good volunteer experience

 Leader/co-ordinator understanding of how individual volunteer roles fit within the overall environment, entity or function
 Appreciation of, and a commitment to, alleviation of personal work overload
 Leader and peer appreciation of the value of the volunteer role being undertaken
 The skill of the ‘task allocator’, including delegation, authorising, empowerment, recognition (of effort and achievement)
 The willingness of those in leadership positions to recognise, challenge and (if required) ‘weed out’ volunteers who limit or obstruct, particularly where this adversely affects the motivation (and ultimately retention) of other effective volunteers.

Attracting, training and deploying volunteers to work in areas such as tackling health inequalities, supporting the ill and unwell, or assisting people facing physical and mental health challenges and disabilities is hugely important. However, while the level of depth is often good, numbers are almost invariably low. Such work requires commitment for the long haul. As the number and proportion of people aged 65-plus rises there is a need to consider whether and how volunteer-based support can be provided to older people while also recruiting more effectively from this cohort.


If we are trying to transform the volunteer experience one element of the solution might be to persuade those involved with leading and managing volunteers to better reflect upon what they, their people and their volunteers do, why they do it and with what results.

Few organisations find it easy to find time for volunteer leaders to discuss, plan, implement and review the actions they take to improve the volunteer experience. Organisations need to find a way to think about how they attract volunteer support, how long people stay in volunteering roles, which roles show the most attrition, and how volunteering in essential areas can be made more attractive and rewarding. Anything that can help them do this, or raise awareness of the range of support and guidance available, will pay dividends.


Volunteer segmentation can also be a useful part of a transformative process. Considerable research has been undertaken into the motivation involved in volunteering but little which explores the motivational role of the different environments and experiences to which volunteers are exposed, for example age, duration of volunteering roles and recruitment routes.

Alternative segmentation approaches consider factors such as effectiveness, time commitments, and the extent to which the personality and attitude of ‘lead’ volunteers encourage or discourage the involvement of others.

While much discussion around these models will be essentially light-hearted and used to stimulate debate, such models do assist those involved to consider the nature of the volunteer resource they have at their disposal and the impact this has on their operation and progress.

KKP’s volunteer segmentation models encompass a range of such factors, including chronology, environment, background and potential motivations. While not exhaustive, the example below does illustrate the complexity of the sector and the level of knowledge, detail and understanding required to develop appropriate actions and resources.

Volunteer segmentation model


While the sector may benefit from a transformative approach to the way it recruits, manages and deploys its volunteers, KKP’s extensive experience of working within and around volunteering suggests that terms such as ‘transformation’ can be problematic. What is innovative to one person may be standard practice to another. Alternative (if less ‘corporately sexy’) terms such as ‘learning’, ‘improvement’ and ‘development’ all imply change, whether that change is incremental, radical or revolutionary.

Perhaps the key is less imposition and more reflection (possibly with assistance), along with greater understanding and recognition of how an individual contribution at localised level underpins delivery of greater strategic ambitions and benefits.

Slightly corrupting a quote from an unnamed source: “Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections every so often but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

And slightly misquoting American humourist Leo Rosten: “The purpose of volunteering is to matter – to be productive, to be useful, to have it make some difference.”


31 January 2020

Chiltern’s new Lifestyle Centre gets the go ahead


Following three years of intense research, planning and consultation, final plans for the new Chiltern Lifestyle Centre have been approved.

KKP is proud to have been part of the project team assisting Chiltern District Council in develop its strategy and assessing the feasibility to develop this flagship facility. We worked closely with colleagues at Space & Place Architects in the development of the concept and design of the state-of-the-art community lifestyle hub, which brings together a range of leisure activities and complementary services under the one roof

KKP prepared the full business case for the new facility and managed the community consultation and research for the development. Over 2,500 residents took part in the community survey which gave the Council the mandate for the investment, with many more supporting consultation events throughout the development of the project.

The Chiltern Lifestyle Centre will provide a wide range of sport, leisure and community activities and facilities including two swimming pools; fitness suite; studios; a sports hall; squash courts; climbing and bouldering; soft play and kids climbing; health spa; library; community centre and pre-school nursery.

David McHendry, Managing Director at KKP, said: “We’re proud to have supported the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre from its inception to full approval. We’d like to congratulate Chiltern District Council for having the vision for such an extensive, but much-needed, new local facility and we’d like to thank to all the clubs, key stakeholders and individuals who contributed to the development of the project.

“The blueprint for the Chiltern Lifestyle Centre incorporates the key benefits of co-location and demonstrates the synergy achieved by a complementary range of community services located under one roof. The operational challenge is to ensure that all the key user groups benefit from a centralised catering offer and extensive ancillary facilities without losing their identity.”

There will multi-functional use of the different spaces which will be able to cater for activities and agencies ranging from youth groups, University of the 3rd Age (U3A) to diving and swimming competitions.

The existing buildings on the King George V site will be demolished – apart from the historic barns – and will be replaced by the lifestyle centre. There will also be external sports equipment, a multi-use games area, play areas and associated parking and landscaping.

The old Chiltern Pools centre is no longer fit for purpose; having been built in 1965 it is not only aesthetically showing its age, but also requires urgent repair or replacement in some key areas of the facility, making it uneconomical to run long-term. The new centre has been designed to high quality standards which will reduce the ongoing management costs that arise from operating older centres.

The Lifestyle Centre, along with the improvements to the centres at Chesham and Chalfont will significantly reduce the Council’s Co2 emissions and will be one of only two A-rated buildings of this kind in the country.


23 August 2019