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Further investment to build on impact of Commonwealth Games

The new memorandum of understanding see the Commonwealth Active Communities continued as well as support more volunteering opportunities and provide grant funding for community-led projects.

26th July 2023

A long-term plan to improve access to sport and physical activity across the West Midlands, with the aim of improving residents’ physical and mental health, was launched today.

A collaboration between us and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the £5.5 million, 10-year plan will see the two organisations continue the strong relationship from the hosting of last year’s Commonwealth Games as we aim to make it easier for people from all parts of society to walk, cycle, take part in exercise and play sport more frequently.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was announced today and backed by £5.5m of new joint funding from the WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund and our own National Lottery funding.

Sport England chair, Chris Boardman, and Mayor of Birmingham Andy Street ceremonially sign the MoU between the WMCA and Sport England, in front of local dignitaries, as well as coaches and participants from Impact Fitness, in Birmingham.

Our chair Chris Boardman was in Birmingham today, alongside Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, and knows the impact an active lifestyle can have.

“Being active can change lives both physically and mentally and it’s important that we continue to support people in the grassroots to be active and make a difference for themselves and their communities,” he said.

“Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy aims to provide opportunities for all people to access sport and physical activity, regardless of their backgrounds, bank balance or postcodes, but we know that barriers for some can often be tougher to break down than others.

“This 10-year partnership will make a vital difference for people in the West Midlands, following our substantial investment into the West Midlands and Commonwealth Games last year. I’m proud to see it help people move and reap the benefits that being active can have for them.”

We invested £35m into the Birmingham 2022 Games, with a primary focus on building a lasting impact from the event by way of new facilities, as well as creating enduring volunteering and activity opportunities for local communities in the West Midlands.

And the continued investment will support our shared goal of reducing health inequalities that exist across the region and were highlighted in the WMCA's Health of the Region report and the recent West Midlands Health Commission report.

"Being active can change lives both physically and mentally and it’s important that we continue to support people in the grassroots to be active and make a difference for themselves and their communities."

Chris Boardman

Chair, Sport England

Details in the MoU

  • Continue the Commonwealth Active Communities which work with grassroots groups in Birmingham, Black Country, Coventry, and Solihull to provide a wide range of opportunities to help people get active in their local streets and parks. 
  • Provide grant funding for community-led projects to increase participation in sports and physical activity as a driver of better health and wellbeing. 
  • Fund a pilot scheme to integrate physical activity and sport into mental health care pathways for children and young people - one of the recommendations in the West Midlands Mental Health Commission recently published report. 
  • Extend and expand the Gen 22 trailblazer legacy project to get more disabled and LGBTQ+ young people involved in sport volunteering. 
  • Support voluntary sport organisations with business and financial planning, governance, staff development and inclusion and accessibility. 

While in Birmingham, Chris and the Mayor visited projects and facilities that have already benefited from the Games.

These included a 3x3 basketball event at Sparkbrook’s Farm Park that was organised by Concord Youth Centre, Basketball England and Sport Birmingham, who were linked together by the Commonwealth Active Communities programme.

And the launch itself was held at Impact Fitness, who received a £10,000 grant from our Places and Spaces fund, as well as being given equipment from the Commonwealth Games equipment giveaway that saw more than 16,000 items used during the Games distributed to community groups across the West Midlands.

Impact Fitness’ Haniyha Kousar runs female-only wrestling classes to encourage more Muslim women to get active and has seen first-hand the difference accessible sport and physical activity opportunities can make.

“As a Muslim woman I have noticed the barriers that we face in terms of both religion and culture," she said.

"Even just with wrestling there are lots of things holding us back, such as clothing not catering to Muslims, with restrictions on covering, and the majority of classes being mixed, even for adults.

"So at Impact we’ve worked hard to create a space to allow women and girls to get into wrestling, even if just to keep fit and have fun. A space for females only to feel comfortable.

"The Commonwealth Games were an amazing experience. It was nice for it to be so close to home because I had the opportunity to be involved by helping to run a have-a-go event which gave 2,000 children and adults a taste of wrestling."

The WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund was established after the Games came in under budget and, following discussions with the Mayor and the combined authority, the government has decided to invest the remaining £70m into the region – a decision welcomed by the Mayor.

“We know from work undertaken by the West Midlands Combined Authority - including the Health of the Region report and Mental Health Commission - that there are unfortunately barriers that too many local people face when it comes to taking part in sport and physical activity," he said.  

“I’m determined to address these health inequalities and this partnership with Sport England will help us in that vital effort.

“Our Legacy Enhancement Fund - combined with additional investment from Sport England - will ensure we maximise the post Games momentum to deliver tangible benefit for local people right across our region including those from some of our most deprived communities.”

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