The Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition has warned of the “huge cost to society further down the line” if the Government does not step in and formally support the community sport sector following the announcement of a second national lockdown for England.
The Coalition is a growing group of 160-plus organisations – including charities, governing bodies and networks – that use sport and physical activity to intentionally generate positive social outcomes.
Alongside 150 other sports organisations, its Chair Andy Reed recently signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a ‘Sports Recovery Fund’ to sustain and support the sport and physical activity sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Coalition is supporting this petition to Parliament.
A second period of lockdown was officially announced by the Government this weekend, and will commence on Thursday.
Andy said: “I don’t think any of us under-estimates the gravity of this difficult decision that the Government has had to take. Nonetheless it is imperative that the Prime Minister now commits to formally recognising and supporting the critically important role that community sport clubs and grassroots groups play across the UK.
“This vast network of clubs, charities and locally-trusted organisations – which the Sport for Development Coalition seeks to give a voice to – deliver programmes and projects that extend far beyond sport and physical activity. In communities the length and breadth of the country, they are uniquely positioned to support mental wellbeing, build social cohesion and engage young people excluded from education and employment.
“Furthermore many of them are supporting those under-represented groups and individuals – such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, disabled people and lower socio-economic communities – which the recent Active Lives survey from Sport England clearly shows are being most directly affected by the pandemic.
“Whether run by volunteers or staff, delivered in facilities or open spaces, these programmes need investment and resources to be sustained and deliver key services in their communities. If we do not find a way of supporting them now, we face losing them forever – and that will not end well when you consider the huge cost to society further down the line, in terms of mental health issues, and youth violence and crime, for example.
“This is why the Sport for Development Coalition recently joined 150 other sports organisations in signing a letter to the Prime Minister to take direct action, including through a Sport Recovery Fund, to support and sustain the important service and contribution of sport for development and community sport.
“With the right level of support, we can help our communities get through this time of national crisis.”
To find out more about the Sport for Development Coalition, visit www.sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org.
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