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Sport England: place-based approach is ‘here to stay’

The place-based approach sees funding focused on overcoming specific barriers to physical activity that exist in communities (Image: Sport England)

Sport England has said it will increasingly implement a place-based approach when making funding decisions.

Publishing a three-year progress report on its 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, the agency said its ongoing priority would be to “break down the barriers” that prevent people from being active.

“One significant way we’re doing this is through a growing place-based approach, collaborating closely with our partners in local communities to ensure those in greatest need can be physically active,” Sport England said.

The approach is part of a move away from purely funding particular sporting activities through their national governing bodies – and instead identify and focus on overcoming specific barriers to physical activity that exist in communities.

Describing the approach, Sport England says: “This place-based systemic work will see us work through our existing 12 Place Partnerships (formerly LDPs) and network of 43 Active Partnerships across England, to foster relationships with local organisations and leaders to overcome the specific barriers to physical activity that exist in their communities.

“This new way of working directly supports the government’s Get Active strategy, which set ambitious targets of getting 2.5 million more adults and 1m children active by 2030 to tackle the disparities in activity levels across society.

“We’re targeting the greatest resource to areas with highest inactivity levels and other social need indicators as this is where this commitment can have the biggest impact on our key outcomes.”

Commenting on the first year’s of the Uniting the Movement strategy, Sport England CEO, tim Hollingsworth, said: ““The third anniversary of Uniting the Movement represents an important milestone as we deliver on our long-term strategy for the sport and physical activity sector.

“There is much to celebrate. Over the last three years, we’ve seen activity levels in England recover to pre-pandemic levels and committed hundreds of millions of pounds in investment to organisations that are working on the ground to help more people enjoy the benefits of living active lives.

“These achievements have been built on strong foundations that have only been possible, however, because we have transformed the way we work.

“As an organisation, we’re more collaborative than ever and it is by building long-term partnerships, as well as being ruthless in deciding how and where we invest our money, that we’re starting to bring about the change we’re desperate to see.

“Yet we know there is so much more to do. Access to sport and physical activity is still not a level playing field. A person’s race, gender, whether they have a disability or not, and perhaps most of importantly of all where they live, all play a significant impact on how likely they are to be active. Furthermore, less than half of all children and young people are meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of being active at least 60 minutes a day.

“I’m confident, however, that as a sector we’ve never been in a stronger position – both in our desire and the tools available to us – to bring about real change and ensure that, no matter who you are, where you come from or what your background is, you deserve an equal chance to play sport and be active.”

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