Sport for social transformation

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has long championed the power of sport to transform lives.  Like many others we welcomed the Government’s 2015 sports strategy, Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, which adopted the CSJ’s view that sport and physical activity can bring far more to society than medals.  At the strategy’s heart were five holistic aims: physical wellbeing; mental wellbeing; individual development; social and community development; and economic development. Reaching these outcomes is vital in the fight against entrenched poverty across the UK. Yet there is evidence that we are not taking full advantage of sport’s enormous potential. The Active Lives Survey published in October 2017 found that, while 70 per cent of people in the highest socioeconomic group are active each week, less than half of people inthe lowest group are. Worse still, people in lower socio-economic groups are twice as likely to be inactive – that is, to perform fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity in any given week.5 On 7 September 2017, we hosted Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP and senior civil servants from a number of government departments, as well as representatives from Sport England and grassroot sport networks, to discuss how best to reach those on the margins of society and realise the strategy’s ambitious vision. We also took submissions from grassroots sports organisations, who offered fresh experiences from the frontline of both the successes and challenges posed by the strategy. This paper brings together some of the main themes and proposals that arose in the pre-event submissions and the roundtable’s discussion.

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