The success of the Government’s newly-released Sports Strategy will be underpinned by the improvement of existing, and creation of new, leisure and fitness facilities across the country.
Get Active: A strategy for the future of sport and physical activity sets out a number of key objectives to drive increased involvement in physical activity among adults and children. These include recognition of the role of facilities, inclusive of gyms and leisure centres, in driving participation, with the Government committing to developing a National Vision for Facilities before the end of this year. And it notes how high-quality leisure centres are the public’s preferred location for exercise, and points to areas of recent investment, such as the National Leisure Recovery Fund and the Swimming Pool Support Fund. However, the strategy also states there are ‘facilities across the country [that] fail to deliver a sustainable and quality offer to the community’. And the National Vision for Facilities will consider the longer-term questions of sector resilience, particularly with regard to public sector leisure facilities. Other key announcements in the strategy include increasing children and young people’s physical activity levels, reviewing school sports provision to inform a new national scheme, and creating a task force to drive effective working across government.
Launching the blueprint, Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport, said: “Recent years have seen unprecedented challenges for sport and our ability to be active. “This strategy sets out how we will respond to these challenges to ensure that the sector remains vibrant and relevant in the years to come.” Welcoming the document, Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, added: “It is a highly-ambitious document that clearly understands the role activity can play in the health and wellbeing of our nation, and how sport can be a force for good by reducing pressures on the NHS, improving educational attainment, and bringing our communities together. “We welcome the inclusion of ambitious overall targets for participation, and the acknowledgement that no single organisation can deliver the scale of change needed. Instead, this strategy will require significant and sustained commitment across the public and private sector.” And ukactive chief executive, Huw Edwards, said: “Our gyms, pools, leisure centres, and other providers represent the engine room of physical activity in the UK, helping more than 17 million people to be active, making an enormous contribution to the health of the nation. “To further harness the power of our members to drive activity in this country, it is crucial the Government continues to work closely with the sector to turn these ambitions into reality. “Working alongside Government we can maximise the impact of activity on health outcomes and economic productivity.”