Written by Ali Clements, Economy & Sport Growth Manager, Active Together (formerly Leicester Shire & Rutland Sport)
How can physical activity and sport add value to inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity?
What a question! I don’t propose to have all the answers but what I have been able to do is begin to collate some headlines from my work with a range of partners in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, with national partners and with colleagues across the Active Partnerships network, to begin to shape an outline of the potential role of the physical activity and sport sector around this agenda.
Could this diagram help us articulate which aspects of this work align to some of the strategic or operational discussions or work programmes in your area and help us, as a network, to demonstrate the reach and influence of the economics of physical activity, sport and moving more?
You may want to add more wheels, tweak the wording or reframe this completely and we can. In essence the more we explore this together, it’s likely we will all adapt this further through conversations across our network or with our partners in economic development, health and across our whole system
The size of the wheels are all the same, however, the relative importance of each area will depend on the your role and the specific part of the sector you are working in.
The pandemic has accelerated and amplified the connections between economic wellbeing and general wellbeing. As a sector we have excelled in our ability to define how physical activity and sport can deliver health outcomes at an individual level and population level. This is included in training, marketing and communications, strategies and direct customer service level conversations in our sector.
So what about the economy? Don’t tell me you’re putting another job on the list!!
No – it’s not another job, more a factor which underpins all of our work. By better connecting our thinking, our understanding and our data/insight, we could amplify the economic, health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals and communities.
Physical Activity and sport adding value to inclusive and sustainable growth:
• Our sector is well placed to provide a common ground or vehicle to increase employability & inclusive growth by improving skills & health with people currently furthest from the labour market
• Putting active environments at the heart of growth infrastructure works towards ensuring a green and active recovery therefore creating the conditions for regular physical activity to become the norm, therefore improving health and wellbeing at scale.
• A physically active, inclusive and healthier workforce is a vital part of enhancing productivity, reducing absenteeism & extending working life. This applies to all sectors not just our own sport and physical activity sector.
- Yet our sector is a business sector in itself, made up of employers creating and sustaining jobs and employment opportunities playing a vital part in our local economies. What’s more our sector is an integral part of the visitor economy, providing products and services to visitors and residents to help them move more.
• These businesses are made up of a workforce who require the skills to support business resilience & growth, delivering quality and capacity across the physical activity and sport sector, or as part of preparing people with transferable skills for work in any sector
So what? How is this relevant to me and my work now and in the future?
If our shared vision is to ‘make active lifestyles is the norm for everyone’ these aspects are fundamental to achieving this.
If we miss these opportunities to use the power of physical activity and sport to transform lives, we have missed a trick and missed a vital part of a whole systems approach.
Potential ambitions for this area of work could be:
Having spoken to a number of colleagues across the network these are some of the potential ambitions we could have for this work area.
- To harness the power of the sector locally and nationally to accelerate our ability to deliver health and economic outcomes to our people, businesses, partners, communities and places.
- For the economic agenda to be recognised as fundamental to tackling inequalities/inclusive growth and inactivity levels.
- For ‘wellbeing’ to categorically be recognised as part of economic success.
- To better embed the joint health and economic principals into our thinking, leadership and ways of working.
This is an evolving process, and the very nature of partnership working is to collectively meet needs.
Clearly, data and insight, learning and impact, strategic enabling will all be aligned to this. What’s more being prepared to align to wider economic opportunities and plans is vital. The landscapes are changing across a number of areas at the moment, and this is another reason to come together work collaboratively and learn together.
I would love to hear your views and any work you are doing in this area so feel free to email me. We will also be organising a Thought Leadership session in March so watch this space for more details.
Ali Clements (she/her)
Economy & Sport Growth Manager
Active Together (formerly Leicester Shire & Rutland Sport)