Birmingham and Solihull blazing trail on sports and activity

Published: Tuesday, 5th December 2017

Birmingham and Solihull has been chosen by Sport England as a pilot area to work with on a bold new approach to build healthier, more active communities across England.

Around £100million of National Lottery funding will be invested in 12 pilot schemes over four years, to create innovative partnerships that make it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.

Latest research[i] shows that a quarter of the general population (11.5 million people) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week, with certain groups such as those in lower paid jobs, women and the disabled disproportionately affected.

By focusing intensely in 12 areas, Sport England and the local partners want to identify better ways to address these stubborn inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active, such as poor transport, safety, cost and confidence.

It wants to encourage wider, collaborative partnerships which look at how all parts of a community can better work together to help the most inactive – from the transport links and street lighting to the quality of parks and open spaces, to how sport and activity is promoted by GPs.

Focussing on women and young families, over-60s, BAME communities and under-15s, the Birmingham and Solihull pilot aims to increase physical activity, particularly in less affluent areas, to create stronger and more resilient communities.

The project will work closely with trusted anchor organisations, including local voluntary and community sector groups, community leaders, local councillors and established local enterprises.

Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr Ian Ward said: "This is about so much more than sport. In addition to improving physical wellbeing, being active can boost mental health, combat isolation, help people stay independent into later life and bring communities together.

"We know from successful initiatives like Active Parks, This Girl Can, Run Birmingham and Big Birmingham Bikes that removing barriers like cost can make a huge difference to participation and encourage people who would otherwise remain inactive to get involved.

"Now thanks to Sport England and the National Lottery we can work with our partners in Solihull to build on previous successes and help more people than ever lead physically and civically active lives."

Councillor Bob Sleigh OBE, Leader of Solihull Council, said: "We are thrilled that we have been chosen by Sport England to deliver new physical activity programmes within the borough.

"We know that some people within Solihull carry out less physical activity than others, so we’re really keen to target these individuals and encourage them to get more active within their community.

"This is a long term project and brings exciting times ahead. We’re looking forward to working with Sport England and our colleagues at Birmingham City Council to create better access to sport and improve the health and wellbeing of our local residents."

Minster for Sport Tracey Crouch welcomed the news at the Local Government Associations’ Sport and Physical Activity conference in London today, Tuesday 5 December.

Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch said: "Sport is a powerful tool that helps strengthen communities and improves physical and mental health. So it is right that we look to do all we can to encourage people to take part. Sport England will invest up to £100 million of funding, thanks to National Lottery players, to pilot innovative projects in 12 places to get more people from all backgrounds involved in sport and physical activity. We will look to replicate and scale up learning from the pilots across the country. I look forward to seeing these projects in action."

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive said: "We are delighted that Birmingham and Solihull will be working with us on this ground-breaking investment. We want to get to the heart of the issues that stop people being as active as they might like to be, and work alongside every part of the community and the groups and institutions in Birmingham and Solihull that support them.

"This is not all about sport - we’re prepared to look at wider issues like transport, childcare, how easy it is to walk or cycle - whatever that community feels is most relevant to them. The process to be appointed as a pilot area for this work was incredibly competitive, and Birmingham and Solihull have emerged from a very strong field. I am really delighted to be working with them."

Background notes

The Birmingham and Solihull Pilot

Vision statement: Using physical activity, guided by innovation, collaboration and insight, to do the social knitting required to create stronger and more resilient communities.

Based on evidence and data from the Birmingham and Solihull Active Data Teams six areas were identified as follows:

Area 1: Handsworth, Lozells and Aston (Birmingham): Population 93,782

Area 2: Sparkbrook, Nechells and Edgbaston (Birmingham): Population 96,870

Area 3: Kingstanding Stockland Green and Erdington (Birmingham): Population 75,379

Area 4: Bordesley Green, Washwood Heath, South Yardley (Birmingham): Population 93.069

Area 5: Shard End (Birmingham) Smiths Wood, Kingshurst and Fordbridge, Chelmsley Wood (Solihull): Population 66,447

Area 6: Brandwood (Birmingham) and Olton (Solihull) Population 38.964

Four thematic communities are to be targeted in these areas – they are:

  1. Later Life: Aged 60+, social isolation, fear of crime and less active, resulting in greater demand for adult social care, mental health services and acute healthcare.
  2. Women and Young Families, sedentary lifestyle, time and cost constraints, resulting in a need for mental health and social support networks, associated health risks with lack of activity.
  3. Under 15 years of age, sedentary lifestyle, obesity issues and lack of active participation, resulting in health risks and self-esteem.
  4. BAME communities, cultural barriers and language skills, resulting in issues around community cohesion, exclusion and discrimination.

In both Stage 1 and 2 we identified four outcomes which we believe reflect the step changes required to bring about a difference, they are as follows:

Outcome 1

The “unusual suspects” living in seldom heard communities and places, become more physically and civically active, reporting improved health and quality of life.

Outcome 2

Through activity, co-creation and facilitation, citizens will have a sense of place and belonging, participation and engagement, resulting in invigorated, strong and resilient communities.

Outcome 3

Sport England and our stakeholders have clearer insight into the impact and effectiveness of a whole system approach to tackling inactivity with citizens, community and place, through integrated data collection and analysis of past, current and future programmes.

Outcome 4

Through vision, leadership and collaboration, Birmingham and Solihull have an effective, dynamic and responsive, whole systems approach to sport and physical activity, integrating with strategic policy decisions; the physical environment; organisations; institutions; citizens, communities and place.

About the Local Pilots

Sport England is trialling bold new approach to build healthier, more active communities across England. By investing up to £100m in 12 pilot areas, fostering innovative partnerships and focusing on those furthest from being active, it wants to learn how to make it easier for people in places everywhere to benefit from sport and physical activity.

Central to the pilots will be ongoing monitored and evaluation so that other locations can learn what works and why, and equally what doesn’t work and why, so that other locations can benefit. Sport England is developing a “community of learning” through which this understanding will be shared across the country.  

The 12 places and how they were chosen

The 12 chosen places were selected following a rigorous selection process with Sport England partners including Public Health England. They cover a mix of geographies (urban, rural and coastal), have a range of political make-ups (local authorities, boroughs, counties) and varying population sizes and inequalities to address. They are:

  1. Greater Exeter
  2. Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough
  3. Withernsea
  4. Greater Manchester
  5. Pennine Lancashire
  6. Doncaster
  7. Birmingham and Solihull
  8. Hackney
  9. Calderdale
  10. Southall
  11. Essex
  12. Bradford

Sport England will work closely alongside each place to devise a bespoke approach based on the unique needs of the local communities. Each place is likely to have its own solutions and will have the support of a Sport England team.

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About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

[i] Source: Sport England’s Active Lives Survey May 2016- May 2017

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