The Sport for Development Coalition is supporting a new campaign called ‘Save Our Sports’ which is urging the Government to save grassroots sport and leisure facilities from permanent closure due to Covid-19.
Leaders from more than 150 bodies across sport and physical activity wrote to the Prime Minister in September asking him to provide ring-fenced funding to aid the recovery of the sector – or risk fuelling physical inactivity and related illnesses for a generation. So far there has been no response from the Government on this issue, or to the letter.
The request replicates that already provided to the culture and arts sector, which faces many of the same challenges, and is benefiting from a rescue fund of £1.57 billion.
Using the campaign hashtag #SaveOurSports, the group is requesting a support package which:
- Creates a Sports Recovery Fund to ensure that Covid-19 doesn’t lead to a lost generation of sport and activity.
- Extends the VAT reduction that has been applied to the culture and hospitality sectors to the sport and physical activity sector.
- Maximise access, in a safe way, to sport and physical activity during any local lockdowns or additional national restrictions.
The Sports Recovery Fund would help to prevent the closure of facilities which form the bedrock of communities across the country, and would have a disproportionately greater impact on people from lower income backgrounds; Black, Asian and minority ethnic, and disabled people. Without financial support, it is estimated that nearly half of public leisure facilities face risk of permanent closure by Christmas.
Research conducted during the pandemic shows that more than 60% of people feel it is more important to be active at this time than compared to other times. It is critical they have the avenue to do so.
Andy Reed, Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition (SFDC), said: “Never has the need for sport’s role in society been greater; whether it’s the increasing focus on the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals, or the need for social cohesion and integration in our communities.
“The many charities and organisations within the sport for development movement are tackling a vast array of issues, from youth violence to social isolation and dementia amongst older people, from health and wellbeing inequalities to discrimination and deprivation.
“That’s why we fully support the #SaveOurSports campaign. It is absolutely essential that these organisations are supported throughout this crisis, so that they can continue to play their essential role at the heart of communities, and in the lives of individuals in the greatest need, across the UK.”
Research released by the SFDC in July underscored that Covid-19 has had a significant impact on Sport for Development organisations across funding, forced reduction and adaptation in delivery, and in engaging participants, many of whom who rely significantly on the service provided across the sector.
Lisa Wainwright, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: “The sport and physical activity sector is unified in its voice that more needs to be done by Government to protect the sector.
“We are delighted to see that the Government is looking to support the larger professional sports, who have been significantly impacted by a lack of matchday revenue, however it is now vital that attentions are turned to the impacts Covid-19 is having on community sport and physical activity.
“The health, wellbeing and prosperity of the nation needs to be protected through a Sports Recovery Fund that ensures our sector is not another victim of Covid-19.”