It was this sense of place and the importance of working at that level, evidenced in our local delivery pilots, that drove the creation of our substantive community-focussed programme - the Commonwealth Active Communities (CACs).
The CACs are four place-based programmes, made up of a consortia of organisations in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull, and a collective approach by the four Black Country authorities of Dudley, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Sandwell.
Each place identified its strategic and local needs and developed an approach to tackle inactivity and inequalities via physical activity, through the principles of co-production, collaboration, distributive leadership and a commitment to learning and sharing outcomes.
Across the four places, activity focussed on young people, active environments (including streets, parks and canals), inclusivity and disability, walking and cycling, social prescribing, care homes and mental health.
These elements are now the focal point for other services and organisations for us to connect with, and the programmes and tools developed have added to our learning and informing our future place-based work.
Regarding the nurture of grassroots sports participation on the back of the Games, we focused on the above-mentioned CAC principles and invested £6.5m into the 22 Games national governing bodies of sport.
The aim? To use the Games to amplify opportunities for underrepresented communities to get active and to enjoy the benefits of sport and physical activity.
Some examples of these efforts include:
- British Wrestling - they used their allocated funding to support the appointment of two locally trusted women as legacy leads to head female activation sessions to highlight the barriers women often face in sport, and to further support clubs and groups to challenge these, providing more opportunities for women and girls from culturally diverse backgrounds to be active.
- England Athletics - they have developed their Funetics scheme, delivered through engaging with locally trusted organisations and services to better connect with local communities, like with the share shacks I mentioned earlier. Through this connection, the group have provided equipment bags, resource cards and training for community members to use in parks and festivals to engage with families.
With the backing of government, we also distributed around 16,000 items of sporting kit used in the Games, which benefitted 290 community organisations.
This giveaway helped foster a sense of diversity, equality, ownership and involvement and it provided opportunities for people of all abilities from a diverse range of communities.
Beyond the Games
Looking past the immediate benefits of the £870m boost to the UK economy, our investment in Birmingham 2022 has made an impressive impact through initial evaluation.
As we celebrate the one-year-one milestone, it is important to recognise that the journey is far from over.
The impact of the Games and our investment continues to evolve, with ongoing efforts to engage communities, develop talent and promote physical activity nationwide.
Our commitment to fostering a healthier and more active nation remains, serving as an inspiration for future major events and further place-based working.
We want to celebrate but also acknowledge the dedication, hard work, and collaboration that has gone into creating lasting change.
As we move forward, the profound impact of our investment will continue to inspire and shape the future of sports participation, community engagement and overall wellbeing in Birmingham and beyond.