In response to The Whyte Review, Sport England has announced an investment of £14.83 million of National Lottery money into a national network of welfare officers and Active Partnerships are playing a major role in managing this project.
The Sport Welfare Officers will mentor and support clubs across England to ensure the welfare of all their members (children, young people and adults) and they will assist Club Welfare Officers in promoting good practice and safe sport at a local level.
Alongside Sport England, the Active Partnerships network has been collaborating with a number of partners, including national governing bodies (NGBs), the NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit and the Ann Craft Trust.
Through the network of 43 Active Partnerships, the project will recruit and train 59 Sport Welfare Officers and it will run for three years, from October 2023 until March 2027. An evaluation study will be put in place to track its progress and measure the effectiveness of the project.
The Active Partnerships National Organisation will manage the project and support the development of the nationwide network of Sport Welfare Officers, who will be based within Active Partnerships across England. Recruitment to some of these local roles has already begun.
To help with project management, the Active Partnerships National Organisation is also already recruiting to two national roles where the successful candidates will support and connect the network of Sport Welfare Officers.
Andy Taylor, chief executive of the Active Partnerships National Organisation, knows how significant today's announcement will be.
"Sport England and UK Sport made a commitment to create a network of Sport Welfare Officers in response to the Whyte Review," he said.
"Working with partners across the sector including the NSPCC Children Protection in Sport Unit, Ann Craft Trust, national governing bodies of sport and others, we are pleased to play a key role in delivering on this commitment.
"We are currently recruiting to two brand new roles in our national team and we'll be supporting the Active Partnerships with their recruitment of the network of Sport Welfare Officers that will operate at a local level.
"All of these new officers will play a crucial role in supporting national governing bodies and local clubs to promote good practice and to ensure safe sport is provided for everyone."
This new initiative also forms part of the Governance, Safeguarding and Integrity commitment in Sport England’s Uniting The Movement strategy and their CEO, Tim Hollingsworth, said:
“The project will directly support our ambition to champion the life-changing impact of being active and our mission to tackle deep-rooted inequalities and unlock the advantages of sport and physical activity for everyone.
“Ensuring a safe, inclusive environment is vital in improving our children and young people's experience of sport in particular, and we know from the evidence presented – not least in the Whyte Review of Gymnastics – that this is not always the case.
“These roles will directly support this – helping to create the right blend of action, at both a national and local level, that’s needed to help promote a consistent approach in clubs to support their own welfare officers.
“By introducing this new partnership, we aim to increase welfare capacity and expertise at local and national level and improve best practice to help prevent concerns and make sport safe for everyone.”