"New services at the heart of the community"

Increasing Pressure on the basic foundations of Sport & Recreation?

Posted: Sun, 23 Oct 2016 12:06

The last few stories we have covered this week at the Think Tank point to a bleak future for the very foundations of sport, recreation and physical activity in the UK. Reports about the dominance of public schools in the make up of Team GB, school sport pressures and cuts to our Public Parks all point to increasing pressure on our system.

Over the coming few weeks and months we will return in a little more detail to each of these subjects as they are all linked to the overarching theme of public investment and the austerity agenda. Our recent conversation with academics and the discussion of Social Capital highlighted the need for a different discourse around sport and physical activity in our poorest communities. The combination of these stories only backs up this need. It can appear that sport and physical activity opportunities are declining in the public spaces of state schools, our public environment and thus leading to a private educated elite representing GB?

The DCMS strategy Sporting Futures recognised this problem and asked Sport England to ensure its strategy addressed these issues - so that class will no longer be the biggest barrier to participation. But given all the pressures we have highlighted above is this possible. Is it possible to turn things around in sport alone when other factors around poverty still dominate peoples' lives

A report this week by the Behavioural science unit (the Nudge Team) for the Jospeh Rowntree Trust also highlighted some of the cognitive issues surrounding the implementation of policy objectives on those on lower incomes and may have some lessons for the sports world as it moves into this space - targeting the most inactive. More of this to come. Our current structures are not set up to engage the most deprived communities. Of course there are exceptions and the sport for development charities amongst many other are doing amazing work on the front line of service provision. But all too often they are picking up the pieces of a failed system. We want to go upstream and fix the system. Sport can be a wonderful too for social good - or it can reinforce old social stereo types and boundaries.

Over the next month we will be exploring the issue of race and social mobility in a series of meetings and roundtables. We believe there is so much more to do in this area for sport as just as importantly amongst policy makers all too often far removed from these communities to understand their needs and aspirations.

If you are interested in helping us deliver this work get in touch. We are looking for funding partners to tackle this pressing issue.

Tags: PE, social class, sports policy