Physical Activity Strategic Think Piece
Local Government Physical Activity Partnership
For many people working within local councils, physical activity related service areas (which includes sport) can feel both exciting, frustrating and daunting right now. However the role and impact of these services is often needed more than ever. We believe there is a growing need for strategic support, reassurance and challenge in the sector.
Managing change is part of everyday life, but this has all too often manifested itself as crisis management rather than a strategically planned response. There is acceptance of the importance of being physically active. However, there remain huge challenges in bringing about systemic change in order to support more people to become active; with local councils’ capacity to effect the required change having weakened through years of austerity. Uncertainty is something we have just become accustomed to.
Driving better outcomes through increased levels of physical activity is incredibly difficult. It will challenge local councils not simply because it cuts across so many traditional service or directorate structures (or silos), but also because it can lead to questions about where the leadership and ownership actually comes from. So for example - does leadership and ownership come from traditional leisure and sports development services or does it come from elsewhere e.g. public health or health and wellbeing based services or beyond the council through collaborative approaches and partnerships? And does this matter? Much depends on the existing strengths of the council to drive the agenda for change.
The Local Government Physical Activity Partnership is a collective body of organisations who are either responsible for or have an interest in the provision of local services and opportunities to enable individuals and communities to become more physically active. This partnership is passionate about the development of opportunities and the critical role that the public sector needs to play alongside other partners in driving better local outcomes through physical activity.
The Local Government Physical Activity Partnership (LGPAP) includes: CLOA, Community Leisure UK, Sport England, the Local Government Association, APSE and Active Partnerships. It has come together with the purpose: to create a collective voice that represents, improves and articulates the social and economic value of physical activity and the important role the public sector plays in this.
We will do this by helping local authorities across England to find solutions to challenges by emphasising and supporting independent, transparent and informed long-term decisions.
Working collaboratively, this voice has significant reach and influence, with the ability to make a real difference to the future role of local councils in supporting their citizens to be physically active .
Developing a helpful conversation within the sector
The group wants to create an environment for positive debate and discussion about the key strategic issues facing local councils focussed on supporting physical activity. Equally to provide reflective and perhaps at times provocative think pieces for the wider sector to consider.
The group, established in 2018, has brought forward thoughts from its round table conversations about the challenges the sector faces and how the sector might position itself to drive better outcomes. These think pieces are not about providing definitive answers or official positions by any of the partners, but instead about amplifying points and raising key questions for discussion in the sector. Ways forward are likely to develop iteratively over time and are likely to look different in each area. It is vital that every locality has thought about what those issues mean to them and how they should respond.
In addition to this wider think piece about the strategic positioning of physical activity services, the group has also considered producing future think pieces (e.g. Leisure Management, Systems-based Approaches, Asset Based Community Development, Co-Production). We would welcome hearing about the key strategic issues that you would like debating.
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