Working on EUFA Women’s Euro 2022

OMG what a tournament!!!!  And whatever the result on Sunday I’m celebrating working on one of the most worthwhile and personal-to-me projects I’ve ever been part of within a clever and committed team at the National Football Museum, a city-wide team of event planners, Local Authority enablers, football legends and an FA team spanning the country. 

As always with the work I enjoy the most it involves me being part of something bigger than me. 

The heritage project I’m project managing for Manchester is an FA initiative funded by the National Lottery Heritage and Arts Council which is designed to celebrate new voices in the women’s game – this includes now-retired women’s football players including Lionesses – and fans – as well as young players. 

I’m absolutely privileged to work on this within the National Football Museum.

So far my team have interviewed 9 ex players and about 40 fans in the Fan Zone and we’re hosting two story and memorabilia collection days at the National Football Museum this Sunday and 10 August. We’ve already hosted so many community days and events. We’ve played our part.

Football was my first sport – the one I was banned from playing at my school and working on this project has enabled me to *really* see the change that’s been made in my lifetime. Being at the opening game at Old Trafford with to my dad was awesome – but so was the ‘See it to Believe it festival’ organised by Olivia Laker at Manchester FA where 550 + girls and women were playing on fabulously-maintained pitches in Wythenshawe in South Manchester. I asked one of the under 10s how her last game went. ‘I did a Beth Mead!!!!!,’ she delighted. 

I didn’t have female role models growing up. 

So whilst the tournament continues, so does our work at the National Football Museum. We’re processing our interviews so they become part of October’s Crossing the Line exhibition Part 2 and so that the archives of the museum become more gender balanced in line with the museum’s 50-50 target. 

I’m working my butt-off don’t get me wrong but the fact I believe my work is making a difference and I’m working with a great team makes me feel so very, very privileged. 

The SROI of sport and arts

I seem to have spent this year talking about the value of grassroots sport within the contect of global competitions. It’s incredible.

This year I worked on the Rugby League World Cup looking at the communication of their social impact programme – and I am currently working at the National Football Museum on Manchester’s arts and heritage programme for July’s Women’s Euros. As footbally was my first sport, this is very exciting.

Having always been sporty and having worked in CSR for twenty years+ taking my CSR learnings and community engagement focus into sport feels natural. I believe in its value – and that’s without the research funded by Sport England showing the ROI on grassroots sport as 3.91.

I am full of admiration for Jon Dutton’s leadership of the Rugby League World Cup and of the robust social impact programme’s he and the organisation’s Head of Social Impact, Tracy Power, is leading. Both of them believe passionately in the power of sport to reach commuities. And both of them know it’s not just in CSR programmes that an organisation makes a difference. It’s in the makeup of the organisation itself.

The decision to hold women’s men’s and wheelchair rugby at the same time was a gamechanger for inclusivity. I witnessed the team having conversations about equality of broadcasting and identified community stories about the power of rugby league that deserve to be showcased to celebrate the everyday everyplace power of rugby league to make a difference in a community.

It was so inspiring to speak to volunteers in rugby communities to see the impact of a club – bringing a commuity together, fundraising for facicilities and delivering weekly moments of joy – so it makes sense for the RLWC to have had a capital fundraising pot to enable clubs to do more of this.

It was gamechanging to speak to some of the RLWC’s community partners – they’re working with Rugby League Cares, Commuity Integrated Care, Movember and UNICEF – to learn how the organisation is using the tournament to open opportunities to talk about mental fitness and to engage marginalised communities in the tournament in so many different ways.

That’s what I am currently doing with the Women’s Euros – opening up the tournament to choirs to learn the anthems, photographers to take pictures in fanzones, recruit and train hertitage volunteers to interview and record fans and past players about their experiences of the women’s Euros past and present. There are so many community organisations working on the tournament in Greater Manchester alone – it’s inspiring every day.

Sport is a massive part of our culture. As is volunteering. I’ll be communicating more on social during the Women’s Euros as part of my own archive of the events and I will be encouraging the heritage volunteers to do the same.

Watch this space (or rather @sarahegalligan)

Proud to sit on British Cycling’s Diversity & Inclusion Advsory Group

I’m Sarah Galligan, founder of These Four Words and I am delighted to have been appointed to British Cycling’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. It’s a marriage of my commitment to diversity and inclusivity and passion for cycling.

I’ve worked in corporate social responsibility for two decades. And I have a read a lot. And continue to read a lot. So I’ve learned a lot. I’ve written a lot. I’ve spoken a lot. And I will continue to advise companies that want to make changes and ensure they are representing their communities and making the most of the talent available.

In my letter of application I promised to be ‘a confident spokesperson, a supportive and diplomatic critic and a hard-working advocate to help [British Cycling] bring in the new era.

And as a woman working and playing in male dominated spheres (law, Big Four, property and construction, cycling, underwater hockey, football as a youth) I have my lived experience of being the only of my sex in a room, in a meeting, on a ride, on a team. It’s harder than men think.

Clearly by myself I myself am not a diverse panel. And whilst I am proud to have mentored BAME women, managed staff with neurodivergent needs, spent time in a wheelchair, suffered from PTSD and depression and have good friends and close family within the LGBT+ community, my lived experience is limited. I don’t represent all groups.

Equally my knowledge of the cycling world is not exhaustive.

Which is why we have a panel. I am proud to sit alongside clever, caring and passionate people and it’s been interesting looking at their biogs and seeing how our experiences differ. Importantly we have a member of British Cycling on the panel in Julie Watts, we have an ex pro racer and campaigner for trans inclusion, Philippa York (my Trek contacts are especially excited about her), sports club and community engagement professionals Nazaket Ali, Habid Vaghefian, Andy Edwards and Lloyd Grose, LGBT+ campaigner Robbie de Santos, HR and inclusion professionals and researchers Rosie Ranganathan, Louise Johnson and Aneel Javed, cycling instructors Aneela McKenna, Deena Blacking. And then there’s me.

What a team.

I’m proud to bring my marketing experience to ensure great ideas are communicated greatly and inclusively through a sport I absolutely love so British Cycling can realise its ambitions. One of my professional skills is platforming people and I have a rather good black book of diverse and clever people. I’m also looking to add to this!

I host online cycle cafes and online Zwift rides and I have an old fashioned telephone so if you’d like to talk about diversity, cycling or corporate social responsibility I’m all ears.

How to do better with diversity

For many of us, 2020 has been a year of reassessing what our clients, our communities and ourselves care about.

One of the upsides of the Covid-19 pandemic seemed to be the rise in neighbourliness – until we were reminded that structurally we aren’t so neighbourly after all, what with the differences in who has to go to work, whose jobs are more at risk and whose lives are more at risk.

I have worked in social value for two decades, helping organisations communicate and demonstrate the value they bring to their clients and their communities. In that time I have had many conversations about diversity and whilst organisations desire to build a more diverse team and recognise the positive business benefits of diversifying their team, they find it hard to make the changes.

This week I joined a diverse group of passionate peers on the inaugeral Diversi-team panel hosted by Onno Consulting to discuss what changes do have impact. Jane Rapin discussed the equality in law, Omar Javaid discussed equality in recruitment processes and I discussed the way companies can use processes to change cultures and force us to have difficult conversations.

I look forward to attending future events run by Diversi-team and learning from others. Do connect if you’d like to be part of the conversation.

Goal-setting for kids and me

I had an interesting conversation with British Cycling road and TT coach Sue Allen last week.

We were talking about goal setting. Not for Olympians but for people like you and me. Or even you and me when we were kids. And for you and me in lockdown. These can be technical, mechanical or learning.

We’ll be talking about this on Thursday at 6 pm on Trek Women Manchester’s Zoom Cafe – let me know if you’d like the login details.

I’ve also had some thoughts about how goal setting can be dangerous for me. Ten years’ ago I made a three year career plan. Hit it in four. Then didn’t replan – well – for a while.

Last year I did the bike ride of my life. London – Cannes. Trained for five months. Fundraised so hard I won an award for it. (It helps when you really admire the charity (Coram) and used to head up new business for the corporate fundraising team of The Children’s Society.) Smashed the ride. And then came the come-down. And I didn’t replan.

So I will be talking to coach Sue Allen about how to ensure I don’t make this mistake a third time.

I know part of this is mindset rather than goals-orientation.

Its funny, with clients or team-members I’m great at keeping my eyes on larger goals. I must take my own advice. The communications calendars are full and aligned to their missions, their values and their aims.

Thank you Kathryn Eade from Up and Thrive for your many words of wisdom last year. I was dithering between the known and unknown and she continually challenged me that I had more control over the unknown – after all, I was making my path.

This is important for me – coaches need coaching.

Build Back Better

Preparing for the next Build Back Better webinar from Greater Manchester LEP on Thursday 4 June gives us an opportunity to reflect on the emerging steps to rebuild the economy in Greater Manchester.

How can we rebuild an economy where people come first? Not just any people, but all of Manchester’s people.

What do we need? Food. Housing. Sense of Purpose. Community. Security.

Mark Hughes MBE from the Growth Company joins Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnham and Lou Cordwell, Co-Chair of Greater Manchester LEP to discuss emerging thinking on Building Back Better, business engagement to date, how businesses can prepare and how we can build more socially aware businesses.

With the recession we are more careful in how we invest our time and our money. Supporting local businesses has been a theme of C19 for the people of Greater Manchester. They have rallied around local businesses to keep them afloat.

Greater Manchester boroughs had already committed to giving significant weighting to a company’s commitment to social value before awarding a contract. Now is the time for this resolve to be strengthened even further.

Join us at the webinar.



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Build Back Better

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How do you keep people cycling?

It’s no secret that I love cycling. I’ve used it for my daily commute in most places I’ve lived: growing up in my home village, Burtonwood, then in Manchester, Missouri, Cardiff, St Albans and Vancouver.

My London life was pre-cycle superhighway (and also perhaps a little fun-filled) for a safe bike commute so I took a break there, likewise in Australia where my love of the bus and a working ozone layer meant I didn’t brave a two-wheeled commute. Otherwise I suppose I’ve been pretty committed.

My bike doesn’t have a curfew. It’s taken me to gigs, black-tie dos and to weddings. (Bonus – it’s easier to cycle in heels than to walk in them.) Oh, and at weekends I dress in lycra and cycle some more.

I’m constantly told how brave I am for cycling. I don’t feel brave but as so many people tell me I am, I figure I must be.

But as Chris Boardman said, ‘You shouldn’t have to be brave to ride a bike or cross a road.’ And that’s why I’ve been vocal in the active travel movement for some time. People don’t always see cycling or walking as desirable ways to commute. There’s loads we can do to change this.

It starts with listening and understanding what people want in their lives and their commutes and once we’ve understood what the different desires and reservations are, we can respond to them, motivate them.

People need the capability, motivation and opportunity to change their behaviour and a good engagement program will address these factors. I’m fortunate to be an ambassador for Trek Bikes who are committed to getting more women on two-wheels. This means I get the opportunity to reach more women. At the moment we have a lot of new cyclists. Our aim is to keep them cycling in the long-term.

By listening to new riders and walkers about what they want to see more of in their neighbourhood, we’ll motivate them in the short-term. And by responding to their words, we’ll keep them motivated in the long-term.

The Government has passed legislation enabling local authorities to make emergency changes in infrastructure. This is the opportunity.

If you need advice on communicating the short-term and long-term benefits of active travel to your community – you should ring my bell!

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Using virtual reality to create future streets

In 2020, Digital Urban, These Four Words and Phoboz Interactive began a collaboration using virtual reality to change how people saw the future of their communities. Our aim is to enable people to experience the potential for their streets without using vocabulary such as ‘interventions’, ‘street furniture’ or ‘Dutch-style’ bus-stop.

We worked with One Trafford (a partnership between Amey and Trafford Council) to create two virtual reality experiences for the Trafford community so that residents in Urmston, Flixton, Davyhulme East and Davyhulme West could time-travel through street as a pedestrian or on a bicycle, first witnessing the streets as they typically are today, and then with some of the changes which the community had proposed. And yes, these include Dutch-style bus-tops.

Over 100 people enjoyed the pedestrian and cycling experiences. The great graphics, life-like noises and vibrations from traffic, created in Unreal meant that these were immersive experiences and had people physically dodging in their seats to avoid close-passing cars or jarring their bodies when they walked down a particularly high kerb (as opposed to a ‘dropped-one’ – more lingo!)

We were delighted with the feedback from the Urmston Active Neighbourhood launch event. Around 600 people of all ages, from all over Trafford came, listened to speakers including Deputy Leader of Trafford Council, Councillor Catherine Hynes and Manchester’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Chris Boardman and gave their opinions to the council. Chris Boardman talked about the need to see how streets can be – and that’s why our work was enjoyed by so many.

The scenarios were created to exacting highways standards thanks to the guidance of the project team at One Trafford and the clear narrative from our team setting the scene at the event meant people felt comfortable sitting down and buzzing once they were standing up again. The initial consultation has come to an end and the Project Team are currently working on proposals from approximately 3000 comments received from the public. We are hoping to collaborate with Amey and One Trafford on future events. Our first gave us lots to think about.

Virtual reality is not just for gamers

Digital Urban ran immersive virtual reality experiences at the RHS Flower Shows in 2018 and 2019 so we know older people enjoy virtual reality experiences. We had the same experience in Trafford. We’ve received invitations to share the experience with people in Trafford’s care homes. Again, Digital Urban has experience here too – and received positive feedback from residents and carers.

Next steps

Some learnings: our experience was enjoyed by people with hearing and visual impairments for the first time. The pre-briefing worked well as we could not give a narrative when users were immersed. We need to add a ‘The End’ graphic and we could create a BSL signed-narrative at the start of the experience for occasions when we do not have a translator.  We were surprised that it could be enjoyed by someone with a visual impairment. For this reason we will do more testing of future iterations with our contacts in Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.

More next steps

The next iteration of our collaboration builds in non-tech with the tech which makes it even savvier. We’re measuring the impact of our engagement in building empathy and ownership and are working with councils, planners and infrastructure providers to build safer, cleaner and happier communities.


A Dutch-style bus-stop is one which sits in front of a bike lane (or if you’re in Manchester, like the ones on Oxford Road.)

Get involved or find out more

Digital Urban uses data visualisation to create and shape better places to help towns and cities realise their ambitions. Follow its work.

Phoboz Interactive create exacting models to bring stories to life. Follow its work.

Breaking the internet

These Four Words’ founder Sarah Galligan kind of ‘broke’ Twitter last week – like a Kardashian.

It was a plug for a fruit and veg shop based in Manchester’s Northern Quarter: McCalls Exotics. One close to Sarah’s heart. She’s a passionate foodie and even presented them with a selection box of home-made chutneys two Christmases ago – all made with their produce.

As great as the Twitter post was with all the right elements – a photo, clever tags, a hashtag, a call to action, a kick-ass story – what was key was the reputation McCalls has built up in the 100 years of their being around.

They have a good story. They are lovely people. It’s not just Sarah who likes them. We’ll be helping McCalls to spread their message as they adapt their business to stay afloat and thrive in a different way.

To be truly effective, social media needs to lead to real engagement, not just a like. For McCalls, they need people to purchase £25 veg boxes. So if you’re in Manchester, in a 7-mile radius of the NQ, you should get involved – call Mark, Tony and Lisa on 0161 832 2132.

And if you want to talk about your own messaging, give us a call!

The business of business

Your business delivers a wider impact than your immediate product or service.

This impact can be positive, negative or neutral. You’ll only find this out when you measure it.

The right framework will enable you to measure your social, economic and environmental value at a project or an organisational level.

The right framework needs to take into account factors including stakeholders, outcomes and your resources.

The best framework for you will let you tell your story to more people with more confidence. As a member of Social Value UK, we help clients measure, maximise and communicate their social value.