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How we got here

Find out how we've engaged with people and organisations so far and our plans for the the next phase of consultation.

This is all about the consultation process we went through in developing Uniting the Movement - continue reading or go back to our main strategy page.

Uniting the Movement

We’ve now published our strategy, which outlines our vision for the future of sport and physical activity in England for the 10 years to 2031.

Ahead of publication, we spent 18 months consulting extensively with a wide range of partners and other stakeholders to help us shape Uniting the Movement.  

Women taking part in yoga

A key objective was inclusivity, and we sought input from a broad and diverse group of people. This included both those in the sport and physical activity sector and those in other sectors whose interests and objectives overlap with ours in important ways.

As a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, most of the consultation was online. Though we initially considered this a limitation, it enabled us to reach a larger number of people than we might otherwise have, for example through increased capacity of online workshops and the ability for stakeholders to contribute to the online consultation platform in their own time.

We’ve been delighted by the quality and volume of contributions we received, and these improved our strategy immeasurably.

This page provides an overview of the different stages of the consultation, including what we learned and the key themes that emerged throughout, and sets out how you can get involved in the development of our strategy’s implementation.


Summer 2019-May 2020

Initial conversations 

What it included

Conversations with partners and stakeholders

What it led to

Strategy framework

July-September 2020

Sharing early ideas

What it included

Board presentation 

Roundtable events

Series of ongoing meetings and events

Internal engagement events

What it led to

Draft strategy

October-December 2020

Online consultation: Phase 1

What it included

Online consultation

Online stakeholder workshops

Stakeholder webinars

Public research

What it led to

Full strategy

February-April 2021

Online consultation: Phase 2

What it'll include

Online stakeholder workshops

Stakeholder webinars

What it'll lead to

Implementation plan

Phase by phase

  • Initial conversations (Summer 2019-May 2020)

    We began the consultation by holding more than 150 conversations with partners and stakeholders.

    These were broad and open to understand more about what mattered to people most about our strategy and why.

    The conversations ranged from individual meetings to events and forums and were used to shape our early thinking in terms of the overall direction of our strategy.

    Learnings and key themes 

    A major theme of these initial conversations was a call for us to use our next strategy to define a clear and compelling purpose and long-term vision for change – to act as a rallying cry that unifies a movement and brings people together – even if that's ‘bigger’ than what we as an organisation can achieve directly. 

    Several major issues were identified as requiring leadership action from us. Strong support also emerged for more proactive advocacy and championing of sport and physical activity, a more overt focus on tackling inequalities and directing resource to where it's needed most, and a greater focus on collaboration, flexibility and adaptability. There was also support for a national strategy that would enable local action.

    Stakeholders emphasised how we could work differently to achieve more. Strong themes emerged around seeing and working in a more systemic way (understanding the interconnections between things and reflecting this in the way we act), simplifying processes (making it easier and more accessible to work with us), and redefining how we measure success (cracking a way of measuring what really demonstrates the value of sport and physical activity).

    What it led to

    These conversations informed the development of our strategy framework, which was published in May 2020. Our strategy framework brought together feedback from the initial engagement stage, learnings from our Towards an Active Nation strategy and initial insights on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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  • Sharing early ideas (July-September 2020)

    Our strategy framework was downloaded from our website more than 3,000 times and we received more than 250 feedback forms, with an average support rating of 7.5 out of 10.

    The feedback forms also included detailed reactions, which helped us refine our thinking and choices. It also helped us understand the impact coronavirus was having during the initial full lockdown, and subsequent regional measures.

    To reflect the call for an increased emphasis on tackling inequalities, we ran 12 roundtable events with a number of trusted and well-placed equality-focused partners.

    At the same time, we continued to test our thinking with partners and stakeholders through online engagement events and meetings, while we also organised internal engagement events with colleagues.

    Learnings and key themes 

    These sessions helped inform and refine our thinking for the strategy further. Specifically, they helped us:

    • Gain a deeper understanding of what a focus on inequalities would mean in practice - particularly for the people and systems that form part of the sport and physical activity workforce
    • Explore what opportunities and challenges our new strategy would present for partners and stakeholders
    • Gauge colleagues’ views on our strategy, including what the strategy would mean for the way we work.

    What it led to

    These ongoing conversations and events informed our thinking for draft strategy content, which we tested in the next phase of the consultation that was led by BritainThinks, an independent insight and strategy consultancy.

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  • Online consultation: Phase 1 - testing our new strategy (October-December 2020)

    The first phase of the online consultation, conducted by BritainThinks, was intended to test and refine the emerging draft strategy content and was structured around the following elements:

    • A series of activities on an online platform, used to capture individual stakeholder views of our strategy over a four-week period. Following this, open forums were launched to continue conversations on our strategy between participants. In total, 884 people registered on the online platform, of which 404 completed at least one of the activities
    • A series of five online workshops with a range of stakeholders, each focused on one of the priority themes in our strategy. The combined attendance across all five workshops was 104 people, with around 20 attending each
    • Weekly webinars which shared some of the emerging findings with participating stakeholders. The combined attendance across all four webinars was 284 people
    • Research with the general public, through four focus groups, 10 in-depth interviews and a nationally-representative online survey of 1,712 adults in England
    • In addition, we continued to have ongoing conversations with partners during this time.

    Learnings and key themes 

    As well as very helpful feedback on our draft strategy and its priority areas, a number of overarching themes emerged from the online platform and workshops.

    1. It was seen as a critical moment for sport and physical activity – and our strategy was therefore considered to be timely and incredibly important. This was reflected in high levels of engagement and interest in the consultation process.
    2. People generally recognised the current moment to be one of crisis, uncertainty and opportunity. This means there was demand for an ambitious and visionary strategy, but it needed to be balanced with a commitment to short-term support of the sector and ongoing flexibility and adaptability.
    3. Our draft strategy was generally believed to offer an ambitious, optimistic and long-term vision for the future of sport and physical activity. The breadth and scale of ambition in our strategy was welcomed, as was the emphasis on collaboration to achieve its objectives.
    4. Additionally, our draft strategy was praised for acknowledging the significant challenges faced by the sector as a result of coronavirus and striking the right balance between recovery in the shorter-term and reinvention in the longer-term.
    5. There was widespread support for the five priority themes contained in our strategy, as well as the overarching focus on tackling inequalities. These are generally aligned with stakeholders’ own priorities and were seen to show a considered approach to achieving the overarching goal of increasing activity levels.

    Whilst people were broadly very supportive of our strategy’s direction, there were several expectations of the full draft and its implementation. These included:

    • Ensuring the priority areas were defined broadly and reflect the subtleties and nuances of each
    • Referencing the areas of overlap and crossover between the different priority areas
    • Representing a realistic approach that requires flexibility and adaptability in the face of uncertain and changing circumstances
    • Demonstrating a commitment to partnership and collaboration that will be crucial to the delivery of our strategy
    • Striking a balance between driving change that's perceived as necessary and continuing the good work already being conducted by us and the wider sector
    • Prioritising interventions that are local, place-based and bottom-up and reflect the preferences and experiences of target audiences
    • Demonstrating a commitment to insight and learning – both in terms of our decisions being led by evidence and in terms of continuing to build the evidence base of what works
    • Implementing an approach to partnership that's flexible, proportionate and pragmatic
    • Using language accessible beyond the sector and to the wider public
    • Including more detail and specific examples to bring the strategy to life for a wider audience.

    Research with the wider public focused on broader attitudes toward sport and physical activity, as well as high-level feedback on the priority themes within our strategy.

    It was intended to build on and complement the behavioural data captured as part of our Active Lives survey, as well as the feedback on our draft strategy itself.

    There were five overarching findings from the research conducted with the public:

    1. Sport and physical activity is widely considered to be important for the public – and its importance has become more apparent since the start of the pandemic.
    2. Most people have experienced the benefits of sport and physical activity personally and say they want to do more activity themselves.
    3. While most are satisfied with the opportunities for sport and physical activity available to them, there's a significant minority of the public who feel they’re excluded from participating or don’t have access to a good range of opportunities.
    4. There are a wide range of barriers that people face – with many experiencing complex, overlapping and varied combinations of barriers.
    5. There's widespread public support for all of the priority areas in our strategy.

    What it led to

    The findings informed the development of our full strategy, which we published in January 2021.

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  • Online consultation: Phase 2 - implementing our new strategy (February-April 2021)

    The second phase of the online consultation will explore how our strategy should be implemented in practice and inform difficult decisions that’ll need to be made in terms of prioritising competing demands and navigating inevitable trade-offs.

      It's final shape is yet to be finalised, but will likely include the following elements:

      • A series of online workshops, each focused on one of the priority themes in our strategy
      • An eight-week online consultation, involving open forums and prioritisation exercises
      • Webinars which will include sharing emerging findings with participating stakeholders, and inform them about upcoming activities and events during this time.

      What it'll lead to

      The findings will inform the development of our strategy’s implementation plan.

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