About the programme | Research | Publications | Independent research | The
impact of Mentro Allan
About the programme
The Mentro Allan programme (2005-2011) was conceived to collect
evidence on the effectiveness of interventions designed to
increase levels of low and moderate physical activity amongst
previously sedentary individuals, through using the natural
Sport Wales led a National Partnership of organisations which
managed the programme. The partners were Sport Wales, Countryside
Council for Wales, Public Health Wales, Wales Council for
Voluntary Action, and the Welsh Local Government Association.
Fifteen projects were set up and run by local partners across
Wales, each aiming to increase physical activity amongst one or
more target groups.
Target groups included young people at risk of disengagement,
young women, older people, people on low incomes, people with
physical or learning disabilities, people with mental health
issues, carers, people experiencing rural isolation, and
ethnic minority communities.
Research into behaviour change
and the natural environment
The National Partnership agreed four research questions (or
'learning outcomes') to focus the evidence collected on
research gaps identified by stakeholders:
- How do people in different sedentary groups change their
behaviour to get active and stay active?
- What support do people in different sedentary groups need to
get involved, change their behaviour and sustain that change?
- What effect does an outdoor location have on people's
experience of physical activity? Does this make a difference to
- What partnership, management and service delivery arrangements
work best to support long-term behaviour change?
The first task of local partnerships was to identify potential
participants in selected localities around Wales for whom
tailor-made outreach and support projects could be designed
and delivered to change their lifestyles. Each project adopted
an experimental approach, testing what seemed to work
through observation and dialogue with participants using
action research. This helped successful practical strategies to be
honed through user feedback.
A series of publications were produced by the National
Partnership, using the information collected through the
participatory action research process. The experiences
described in the papers were distilled from the carefully
recorded experiences of these projects as they first made
contact with their target participants, began to understand
their needs, gave them their first taste of physical activity,
helped them establish a regular pattern of activity and
then supported their transition towards sustainable active
lifestyles independent of the projects.
- Briefing papers are aimed at local
or national project/service managers and policy makers. Each
briefing paper covers a different topic although there are
many aspects that inter-relate.
- Practitioner guides are
designed to support people implementing projects in the field.
These guides will be of use to anyone that is interested in
physical activity, health, equality, the natural environment,
volunteering, project management and participant-led projects.
- A series of case studies have been collected from
the Mentro Allan local projects covering the four Learning
Outcomes for the main programme. These case studies will share
a story, demonstrate the impact of the project and highlight
the lessons learnt.
In addition to the participatory action research methods,
an independent research team based at the Countryside and
Community Research Institute (CCRI) (University of the West of
England and the University of Gloucestershire) and the University
of Bath undertook research to capture the voices and
experiences of participants and project staff directly.
Their report explores how people can become more active and
how organisations can support them to achieve this, as well as
the effect of an activity's outdoor location on
participation and participants' experiences.
The impact of Mentro Allan
Statistics collated for the final programme report show
- Mentro Allan had contact with 9,739 individuals.
- Projects targeted people in the demographic communities they
were intending to reach, though it was often 'messy' or 'fuzzy at
the edges' with a proportion of people attending being friends or
family of the individuals who met the target criteria.
- Projects were successful in targeting sedentary people,
though here again there were people who already met the Welsh
Government's recommended levels of physical activity.
- Those who were relatively inactive, reporting an initial
activity level of fewer than three days with more than 30
minutes of moderate of vigorous physical activity, were likely
to increase their physical activity after 6-12 months contact
with Mentro Allan. Of those who completed three physical
activity level (PAL) forms, 41 percent had increased their
physical activity to three or more days of 30 minutes moderate
or vigorous physical activity a week.
- Those who were in contact with the projects after 6 months
showed an increase in their use of the outdoors for their physical
- Staff and volunteers undertook a wide range of training,
with at least 204 people receiving training. The most common
courses were for walking and first aid.
- Projects used a wide variety of activities to engage with
people. Projects were people led in their choice of
activities, so the attendance profile at activities shows
the positive choices of the participants. However, there were
geographical and capacity/experience limitations for some
activities, so some projects did not provide some activities