Ullash Karia, Head of Parks and Leisure, explained that sports and physical activity were great ways of enjoying yourself and getting fit at the same time. He explained that the council had drafted an ambitious strategy which aimed to engage residents as well as being a document which required action.
Jardine Finn, Sports Development Manager, said that there was already great work on engaging people in physical activity being done in Hammersmith and Fulham. He noted particularly the St Mungo’s scheme to get homeless people to take part in sports and the recent disability tennis tournament staged in the borough. Mr Finn explained that the purpose of the strategy was to show the council’s commitment to involving more people in physical activity and to help the council to target its resources. Action plans would be developed to implement the strategy.
The cost of supporting people who were not physically active was high and increasing whilst Public Health England had suggested that if being active was a pill, doctors would be rushing to prescribe it. There was already a good level of participation in physical activity in Hammersmith and Fulham but this needed to be increased further. Sport in school needed to be supported as 24 percent of children living in the borough were classed as obese on leaving primary school. Breaking down barriers to disabled people participating was also important.
The strategy’s priorities were:
- Tackling inactivity
- Ensuring that every child enjoys being active
- Helping people to remain active, affordably
- Supporting residents to develop grassroots sports
- Creating better physical activity environments
- Developing evidence based approaches to improving participation
The Community Sport and Physical Activity Network had been consulted on the strategy and had contributed to the current draft. The strategy was currently being consulted on via the council’s website. Ullash Karia explained that officers were keen to hear views from residents and stakeholders as the strategy needed to engage them.
Councillor Dewhirst said that he was impressed with the strategy’s focus on inactive people; not only would inactive residents get a lot out of sport, there was also likely to be considerable funding available to help get them doing physical activity. Jardine Finn agreed and explained that partnerships with charities would also be important in securing grant funding.
Natascia Bernardi, Action on Disability, explained that the charity had been working with the council and Sport England on a project to help disabled young people get into sport. They were doing this by working with local clubs to remove any barriers to participation, although there were some barriers such as specialist equipment which were difficult to overcome without sufficient funding. She said that the charity wanted to extend the scheme to adults and wanted to work with the council to bid for funding to do this.
The Chair asked whether there had been a shift away from regular sport to less traditional physical activity such as park runs. Jardine Finn said that this was certainly true nationally, although there was no local data on the trend. Funding from Sport England is likely to be directed towards less traditional physical activity which were likely to encourage inactive people to take part.
Councillor Sue Fennimore explained that physical activity had the potential to improve a great many areas of people’s lives; it was good not only for physical wellbeing but also mental health. She hoped that socio-economic reasons for people being inactive could be tackled so that everyone could feel the benefits of being active.
The Chair thanked officers for their presentation and work on the strategy, and those present for their contribution to the discussion and increasing activity in Hammersmith and Fulham.