The Herts Sports Partnership are currently working at a developing local ‘Theory of Change’ models to be implemented within the Sport for Social Change and Physical Activity for Wellbeing offers around the county.

What is a Theory of Change?

Theory of Change is a description, with an illustrated ‘Outcome Pathway’, explaining how a desired change can be expected to happen within a particular context. It focuses on mapping out available provision, the links between them, and how they ultimately lead to the desired change.

The first stage is to identify the desired long-term goals and working back from these to identify the pathway an individual, or community, can follow to reach them. Then, working backwards, all the related engagement opportunities can be mapped (in this case programmes, interventions and change initiatives) as well as the desired outcomes to create the pathway.

This can then provide a visual model to identify which types of initiatives will lead to the intended changes, and where there are gaps in available provision that need addressing. Through this method the links between specific activity and their role in achieving the intended social change can be much better understood allowing for better planning, evaluation and recognition of a project’s success outside of own specified outcomes.

HSP Sport for Social Change Theory of Change

For HSP’s Sport for Social Change Theory of Change, the intended long-term goals are continuous sporting participation (or physical activity) and/or entering education and employment.

The outcome framework then consists of a multitude of both HSP and partner initiatives, including purpose-built interventions, as well as ongoing core organisational offers, which combine to offer a pathway to change for members of the target communities. In this case the target ‘hard to reach’ communities are the five HSP Sport for Social Change pillars of Poverty, Youth Violence, Mental Health, Women and Girls, and Employment and Education.

Work in progress!

The HSP Theories of Change are currently in the development stage and will likely repeatedly change before it takes its final shape. Below is the first draft of ideas: