Community sport – moving from culture and leisure to health, community and education?

Community sport and physical are facing some unparalleled challenges and opportunities adapting to and embracing new technology, changing lifestyles, the way we work and society’s (and Government’s) attitude and expectations.

Many new providers and bodies are embracing these changes and benefitting from them.
These innovative trailblazers often start their work because of their frustration with the lack of good opportunities where they live and/or work and then decide to ‘do something about it’.

Without the restrictions of the traditional mantra of ‘the way we do things around here,’ they develop partnerships with other like-minded bodies. And great things then happen.

That’s how Bradford College and West Yorkshire Police got together and launched very successful Bradford Police Summer Camps, with support from local housing associations. That’s how they have been able to engage with thousands of young people over the last 5-6 years. (They are presenting that story at the Sport for Social Good conference, due to be held on 5th July at The Britannia Stadium, Stoke).

Sport works – increased subjective wellbeing related to sport derived £30.3bn of economic impact over the year
Almost £45bn was saved in England over a 12 month period on health, crime and education as a result of the country’s investment in sport.
According to a new study compiled by Sheffield Hallam University – Social Return on Investment in Sport – the £23.5bn spent on sport during 2013/14 contributed to a £44.8bn “outcome”, with six outcomes relating to health, two to education, as well as three further social outcomes.
In terms of health, the study found that participation in sport and exercise at “moderate intensity” for adults reduced the risk of coronary heart disease and strokes by 30%, colon cancer by 24%, Type 2 diabetes by 10%, dementia by 30% and breast cancer in women by 20%.
In addition, 14% of adults participating in sport and exercise were more likely to report good health than non-participants.
The biggest economic impact was the £30.4bn derived from participants’ “higher subjective wellbeing”. A 1% reduction in crime over the period resulted in £41m savings while improvements in education attainment for those taking part in physical activity netted the country £5m.
Finally, work done by volunteers in sport contributed to £7.8bn in economic impact.

We are seeing great examples from many community-based organisations where they engage with non-sports partners, but increasingly local authorities are being more innovative and forging new relationships. Two examples from Scotland:

1. Sport Aberdeen, supported by Macmillan cancer, are looking to recruit a Senior Development Manager [Active Lifestyles]. The main job responsibility is to “forge links with NHS Grampian, health care professionals and local cancer support groups, to ensure the promotion of physical activity is integrated into routine care for those living with and beyond cancer and promote.” Talking about community sport making a real difference to people’s lives!

2. At Edinburgh City Council, the Sport and Recreation unit is currently being integrated into a new department, Communities and Families. That Council is also presenting at the Power of Sport conference, which takes place on 15th June 2016 at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
The presentation will outline the importance of social enterprise from a local authority perspective including available support structures

Of course, there are many similar examples from across the world.

So, while both the Edinburgh and Westminster governments committed themselves to supporting sport for change and social good, there are an increasing number of traditional sports bodies who are joining the existing group providers within that sector.

But, we appreciate that for those who just want to deliver sport in a traditional way, all this represents significant changes. Because our lives are changing in many other ways.

The Times They Are a-Changin (Bob Dylan, 1964)

In the UK, 16% of the population is self-employed (18% in London, 10% in Scotland) and almost a quarter of us work unsocial hours in retail, hospitality, health sector and so. ECB tells us that only 30% of cricketers play each game of a season – they have other commitments.

Traditionally, community sports clubs have operated during people’s leisure time, which has been after 5pm and during the weekends. How are they adapting to this new world?

Will the sports club, eventually, be replaced by an app? Is the clubhouse of the future an online clubhouse where you can link up and at a variety of times and locations throughout the week.

So, we are also beginning to see an emergence of ‘virtual club’ house and the virtual communities where people share their sporting experiences online – at a time which suits them!

Imagine, the number of people sport can now reach out to. People, who for their own personal reasons, have not felt that the traditional leisure centre and/or sports club has been relevant and welcoming to them.

All this will require a lack of fear of change, new skills and partnership and a will to making it happen.

So, how are you going to become that welcoming community sports enterprise, which is a hub for your community, work with your education and health providers and engage with people on their terms and speaking their language?

We have always found that those people, clubs and bodies, who are half a step ahead of external changes, are more successful in all sorts of ways. Also, they are having more fun being on the front foot!

Why not attend one of our conferences either in Edinburgh on 15th June or in Stoke on 5th July and learn more about how you can benefit from all these changes?

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