The report follows a nine-month inquiry into sport in our communities during which many sporting organisations, including the Alliance, submitted written and oral evidence about their concerns for the future of the sector as a result of the pandemic.
Responding to the report, Martin Lindsey, Chief Operating Officer of the Sport and Recreation Alliance said, “We are grateful to the Committee for undertaking this inquiry which has shone a light on the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s activity levels and the wider sector.
“As expected, despite the remarkable work of many sports groups, organisations and volunteers in supporting their communities during the pandemic, the report paints a worrying picture of the impact of COVID-19 on participation, volunteering, financial viability and access to facilities.
“It is important that we use the lessons learnt and recommendations to help the nation to fight back and remain physically and mentally healthy as we emerge from one of the most testing periods in history.
“Also highlighted within the report are the concerning inequalities in participation. As stated in the Alliance’s Black Lives Matter statement released in June last year, and echoed by our Chief Executive Lisa Wainwright in the report, as a sector we are committed to being more inclusive and creating a welcoming environment for anybody who wants to take part so that we are truly representative of the diverse communities we serve.
“We thank our members once again for their commitment to becoming more inclusive and welcome the Committee’s call for renewed focus and funding to help those who need greater support to lead active lives.
“It was also pleasing to see the Committee recommend that the government sets out how it plans to open up school facilities to ensure more are available for community use given the fact that the sector has long drawn attention to the benefits of unlocking school facilities that often sit dormant.
“This recommendation follows evidence from research we commissioned with Sheffield Hallam University, in which so many of our members and their clubs took part and which demonstrates the extent to which clubs are reliant on access to facilities both in schools but also in public leisure centres.
“We look forward to working with the government to try to get more school facilities open but believe further concerted effort is still needed to address the ongoing challenges faced by public leisure facilities so that they are able to survive, recover and evolve as a key part of the sport and recreation eco-system.