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What we'll do: Building the movement

What we'll do now

Big issue advocacy

Understanding and unlocking the barriers around the five big issues is a vital element of our strategy that will truly help make change happen.

It’ll mean taking an evidence-based approach and listening to what people tell us are their barriers to getting active, and then using our advocacy and influence to help make the changes needed to remove them.

These won’t all be barriers that can be broken down solely by the sport and physical activity sector – some will relate to other areas, like the leisure, travel or health sectors.

There may also be opportunities to use a particular moment where we can see energy building to help bring about systemic policy or cultural changes that could enable activity, or tackle a blockage that needs collective unlocking.

We’ll create connections between key parts of the movement across various sectors and organisations where there’s an alignment with our vision, enabling collaboration and diverse perspectives and connections to be maintained.

Demonstrating the value of sport and physical activity – the return on investment – and how it can help organisations achieve their own aims and outcomes, will be a key part of our advocacy work.

For example, it could focus on the value of investing in and improving local spaces.

Or it could mean getting behind the goal of reaching net zero emissions by advocating for active travel and sustainable and environmentally sound practices within the sector.

Collaborating with the health system to recognise the value of physical activity

The health system has significant reach, connections and trust, but physical activity promotion can easily fall down the list amongst many other competing priorities.

That’s why over the past few years, we’ve been working to make the ‘health’ case for movement and collaborating with the health system to recognise the value physical activity can bring to addressing health challenges.

We’ve also been exploring opportunities to create a high-quality sport and physical activity experience for anyone who moves between any health system – be that advice, signposting or referral – into sport or physical activity, especially people living with health conditions.

We want each person’s journey to be easy, personalised and supported, to help increase their likelihood of being active and improving their health or wellbeing.

We’ve worked with partners in and around the health system to influence change in areas including:

  • Developing strategic alliances
  • Shaping and informing national guidance and policy to support our aims
  • Playing a role as a convenor
  • Responding to the evidence, resource or insight gaps
  • Pilots/proof of concept
  • Identifying and acting on ‘big’ blockers and enablers.

Looking forward, we’ll develop shared plans with the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, with support from NHS Horizons; we’ll build alliances with other stakeholders; and we’ll consider gaps in knowledge or resources and commission accordingly to build evidence, insight and tools which support the case for change.

184 million False

Visits to publicly owned leisure facilities in 2019-20.

Supporting and developing publicly owned leisure facilities

Public sector-owned leisure facilities – from leisure centres and gyms to playing fields and tennis courts – are a crucial part of England’s sport and leisure estate.

With local authorities the largest investors in community sport and leisure provision, between them, these publicly owned leisure facilities had 184 million visits in 2019-20, creating a significant social return, with positive impacts on people’s mental wellbeing, social and community development, social capital and improved physical wellbeing.

The pandemic put many public facilities at risk – local councils and their service delivery partners, together with the £100m National Leisure Recovery Fund, helped to avert the collapse of the sector – but significant pressures remain.

It’s more important than ever that we continue to support local authorities through our resources and guidance to help the development of provision that’s more strategic, linking effectively across health and the new integrated care systems.

Our Strategic Outcomes Planning Guidance and our Leisure Services Delivery Guidance is already used across the sector, and our capital investment helps stimulate local investment into sustainable leisure facilities designed to co-locate services as wellbeing hubs.

Alongside all of this is Moving Communities, our platform which gives real-time data on how leisure services are performing, improving and making an impact in their communities.

This is all underpinned by collaborative leadership, and we’ll continue to encourage and support the development of leadership within the sector by building and expanding on things like our local leadership programmes.

Covid-19 recovery and reinvention support

With Covid-19 and its impacts clearly far from over, we’ll continue to deliver on the commitments we’ve already made – in particular, managing and administering the government’s Sport Survival Package, which supports professional leagues, clubs and other sports bodies under severe financial pressure from the pandemic – and re-focus our emphasis on to recovery and reinvention.

It’s hard to predict the course of Covid-19 over the next few years, but we’re committed to continuing to support the sector through this uncertainty while embracing the opportunities the pandemic has surfaced.

In the immediate term, it’s likely there’ll be an unequal recovery and increasing regional inequalities as difficult economic choices are made – for example, partners providing opportunities in lower income areas may be hardest hit.

But changing employment circumstances could lead to people with more diverse experiences, skills and backgrounds entering the sport and physical activity workforce.

So, we’ll initially focus on ‘rebuilding’ the community of people who make sport and physical activity happen in communities – often volunteers, freelancers, sole traders and micro businesses – and continue to work closely with local authorities to protect community sport and physical activity provision where it’s needed most.

People should also have the option to get active from their home where it makes sense for the activity and for those who could or do take part, so we’ll continue to support a shift towards digital and hybrid offers.

Targeted investment into community football, tennis and multi-sport facilities

We’ll work with national and local place partners, such as local authorities, to target the government’s multi-million-pound investment into community football, tennis and multi-sport facilities so it reaches the places where it’ll have the biggest impact.

By building on what we’ve learned about community engagement and co-designing facilities, we’ll seek even greater input from communities on these facilities and the improvements that can be made to them.

Simplified access to our open funding

We’ll create a single point of entry for our open funding, replacing the separate application processes we have currently for programmes such as the Community Asset Fund, Small Grants and options for crowdfunding.

This new process will be built on what we’ve learned from our Covid-19 response funds, and include our open invitation for people and organisations to share with us their own ideas for helping to get people active.

We want it to be simple and easy to apply for funding.

But also simple and easy to access help and support to further develop and improve ideas and initiatives, make links with organisations, access expert advice or develop new skills – such as learning about crowdfunding.

So, we’ll ensure we build a process that’s flexible, simple to use and responsive that can adapt and evolve so we and our partners can respond to new issues, challenges and opportunities as they arise.

What we'll do next

Uniting the Movement resources

We’ll create a free set of resources for anyone who is or wants to be part of the movement, with the aim of helping people and organisations solve challenges and access support.

Some of these resources already exist – but we’ll make them easier to find and access – while some new resources are needed to help with new challenges.

The kinds of resources we’ll share could include:

Data, insight and learning

e.g. advice on data standards


e.g. community engagement tools


e.g. club governance templates


e.g. on safeguarding and developing your people


e.g. digital marketing training

Case studies

e.g. sharing the experiences of others

Grant finder

to help identify potential funding opportunities

Image library

with diverse images of grassroots sport and physical activity

Creating a leadership community

We’ll find and support new and existing champions for sport and physical activity from every walk of life and background who can influence their organisations, networks and sectors.

Each person will be recognised, supported and empowered to develop the skills needed to lead a movement for everyone.

They may work in any number of sectors and be at any level, paid or voluntary, but there’ll be a strong connection with our big issues and tackling inequalities.

We can support this network through events, exchanges (i.e. brokering secondments) and opportunities (i.e. mentoring and internships).

What we'll do later

Creating the conditions for innovation

We’ll convene partners, people and stakeholders to come together to work through shared challenges or opportunities that need multiple perspectives to crack.

This will be supported by experts in innovation and design, using processes designed to unearth new solutions such as rapid prototyping, testing new ways of working, and using learning sprints to refine thinking based on what does and doesn’t work.

The focus of this collaborative innovation work will be overcoming consumer challenges – for example, reimagining the experience of volunteering in sport so that it attracts more people and greater diversity, or developing new products or services which support children and young people to use physical activity to look after their own mental wellbeing.

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