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08 Jul 2021

ukactive to 'reposition' public sector leisure in the UK
BY Tom Walker

ukactive has drawn up a roadmap which looks to ensure the survival, recovery and development of the sector

ukactive has drawn up a roadmap which looks to ensure the survival, recovery and development of the sector
photo: Shutterstock/Halfpoint

ukactive has set out its vision to develop a national strategy for the UK's public leisure sector and to define the sector's role in delivering physical activity to the nation.

The vision is outlined in a paper – entitled The Decade of Change for Public Sector Leisure – and is based on a consultation with public sector leisure industry leaders, which began in October 2020.

In the paper, ukactive provides a roadmap for progress, which looks to ensure the survival, recovery and development of the sector.

The proposed roadmap has four phases and will culminate in a long-term strategic plan, designed to support the delivery of services that meet their specific vision and purpose.

"While this past year has brought significant challenges, many of which we are still facing, it has provided everyone within the physical activity eco-system with a moment to reflect," said ukactive CEO, Huw Edwards.

"It's a rare opportunity to pause and look back on where the sector has come from and to learn from the failures and the challenges that are inhibiting progression and the ability to truly transform.

"This scrutiny has led us to identify significant changes which must be made in order to not only sustain public sector leisure provision, but also to evolve and set out our future role and purpose.

"With this in mind, it is essential that we do not revert back to pre-COVID tendencies, and instead use COVID-19 as a catalyst to embark on a decade of change, to create a more sustainable, resilient sector.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the whole of the physical activity eco-system to play a positive role in evolving and re-positioning services, putting aside differences in opinion and coalescing around this common purpose.

"Taking action now and demonstrating this unified leadership amongst the key stakeholders involved in public sector leisure will provide the pro-active, strong and ambitious response needed to drive an agenda for transformation."

ukactive's proposed roadmap has a four-phased approach.

Phase one, titled 'consult and engage', has been completed and included – among other activities – the October 2020 consultation and the joint position statement released by ukactive and the Local Government Association on 7 July.

Phase Two – titled 'state of the nation workshops and report' – will run from August to October 2021 and includes workshops to definite themes and the future direction for public sector leisure, as well as the publication of a State of the Nation Report.

This will be followed by Phase Three, titled 'establish public leisure stakeholder group', which will run from October 2021 to March 2022 and during which ukactive will identify deliverables, capabilities and tasks, as well as a physical course of action.

The final, Fourth Phase – set to come into force in March 2022 – will see the strategic plan being published and a collective agreement reached on the direction and priorities for evolving public sector leisure.

ukactive, working in partnership with stakeholders, has already begun to address micro-level themes and challenges – which were identified during the consultation – that it intends to tackle with immediate effect.

These include data and insight, standards and improvement, procurement and tackling health inequalities.



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