Written by Ali Clements, Economy & Sport Growth Manager, Active Together (formerly Leicester Shire & Rutland Sport) and Active Partneships National Team (1 day a week)
The contribution of physical activity and sport on health, wellbeing, economic recovery and growth is extensive, and covers a number of different areas of work. This includes using it as a vehicle to increase employability and inclusive growth, by improving skills & health with people currently furthest from the labour market.
Active Lancashire and Somerset Activity & Sports Partnership (SASP) are two Active Partnerships that have both embedded working with those most at risk of health inequalities into their work streams.
Active Lancashire are part of a well-established collaborative partnership which has delivered health and economic outcomes for deprived people of Lancashire for over 8 years. They are a lead partner working with local organisations to support improvements in health and economic outcomes locally.
Their work has subsequently inspired SASP to follow in their footsteps, using the power of sport and physical activity to give those most at risk of health inequalities a sense of purpose, structure in their week, a sense of connectedness and develop new and exciting partnerships which embed the wider benefits of sport and physical activity across their local areas.
A snapshot of the work underway through Active Lancashire:
Business Health Matters –The programme has been developed to support local businesses in improving the physical and mental health of their employees so that staff are happier, healthier and more resilient.
The Active Lancashire led initiative is supported by a range of partners including UCLan, Lancashire Mind, UKactive, Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Chambers of Commerce, Sport England and Lancashire County Council..
By delivering training, NHS health screenings and supportive interventions in workplaces, through a network of local authorities and leisure trust staff, employees are empowered to improve their overall health and deliver positive health and wellbeing changes within the workplace. Employers then benefit from increased productivity within their workforces. The affordable workplace health programme provides a range of training from basic skills, level 2 and level 3 qualifications.
The programme aims to complete 15,000 NHS Health Checks and train 5,000 Workplace Health Champions over the next few years.
More Positive Together - This programme supports people to move closer to the labour market through sport and physical activity. 6,000-8,000 people per year have been supported with their drug, alcohol and mental health challenges, through physical activity and support through DWP. To hear the stories from individuals benefitting from the programme – click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcZwYIxeVjE
The Evaluation Report confirmed the value of physical activity in addressing health barriers and improving economic activity, which means that 10% of Social Housing partners project funding is now on physical activity.” (Partners include Active Lancashire, Housing Providers, Voluntary sector health providers and the DWP)
A snapshot of the work underway through Somerset Active and Sports Partnership’s:
The team followed their instincts and kick-started new ways of working which then attracted funding from ‘Pluss’, a key adult employability partner to sustain the great work.
The ‘Revive Programme’ - Enables people most at risk of health inequalities, for example individuals (18+) experiencing drug and alcohol addiction issues and/or mental health challenges, to be nominated, or put themselves forward for support through the programme which gives them chance to get active and enjoy some new physical activity experiences.
Working alongside partner organisations, participants on the programme can utilise the skills and support from a mentor to support them on their journey. Firstly with a sense of connectedness, through to developing self-esteem, wellbeing and skills. This offers participants an extremely positive gateway to reintegrate fully back into society. Sport and physical activity has been such a positive experience for many people that it’s a point which they find easy to come back.
The programme helps people to be ‘Fit for Work’ by providing structure, communication, the opportunity to work with others, and the pathway from participant to volunteer to working with a Pluss Change Coach who will find training and skills, as well as help to find work for them.
Some people may wonder why rough sleepers would want to be involved in physical activity. People need structure, something to enjoy, a reason to come together. They have a need to be connected, for aspirations, something each week to look forward to.
Our organisation has grown because it has stopped working with people like themselves. Our team understand that there are stories behind everyone, and some of these are well beyond what they would have expected.
We find our future mentors from the cohort of people who need to be supported. Our programmes have support ready for people when the time is right time for them.”
Jane Knowles, CEO SASP.
More Active Partnership across the country are exploring how they can build similar projects and pathways or enhance their current work to enable everyone to make the most of the extensive benefits the sector can provide to those who need this the most.
If you are working with people most at risk of health inequalities, make contact with your local Active Partnership and see if by reaching out you could enhance the lives of individuals and communities.