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New research to explore the post-COVID-19 world of Sports and Leisure

New research to explore the post-COVID-19 world of Sports and Leisure
Three partner organisations, the Local Government Association (LGA) Chief Cultural and Leisure Officers Association (CLOA) and the Association for Public Service excellence (APSE), have developed a research project to explore the future of local authority sports and leisure services following the seismic changes to the sector as aresult of the health pandemic, with opportunities to use insights from the crisis to ‘build back better’ in sports andleisure provision.
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified existing challenges in the provision of traditional sport and leisure services.Equally a relentless focus on efficiency and budget savings, for more than a decade, has undermined serviceresilience whilst prompting questions about whether they are delivering enough of the outcomes they should be.
 
As part of a mixed economy of provision, local council sports and leisure services, such as leisure centres andcommunity sports development, have a key role to play in supporting the delivery of better place-based outcomes, but the narrative about this role is often inconsistent. Critically there remains stubborn challenges when it comes toaddressing physical inactivity with the impact of the pandemic striking the most deprived communities worst,thereby only serving to intensify existing levels of inactivity and inequality in those areas. These challenges raisefundamental questions about the positioning and effectiveness of the existing public sport and leisure sector bothnow and in the future.
 
This new collaborative research project will therefore explore how, by embracing a more collaborative, systems-based approach, to addressing physical inactivity local authorities and their stakeholders, can exert a powerfulinfluence and help to fundamentally shape the look and feel of a locality. It will ask if this approach will help to bringabout healthier, more sustainable, economically stronger and more inclusive places, providing a new and dynamiccontext for the delivery of public sports and leisure services. Within this wider context the research will explore theunique contribution of public leisure facilities, alongside private sector provision, looking at what the public sectordoes best, and the gaps in provision which local authorities are able to fill.
 
The research will attempt to provide evidence-based guidance for councils (by councils) at a time when many willbe reviewing these services. It will help councils to reflect on what they are currently delivering and whether there is a need to reconsider the role they can play in supporting better place-based outcomes, including post COVIDrecovery. Critically it will help to identify the risks and challenges, and which communities could be underserved, iflocal authorities are forced to stop services due to a lack of funding.
 
By embracing the views of sector leaders across the industry through stakeholder discussions, surveys, andparticipative research, it is hoped that the final report, which will be made available in the Spring, will help councilsmake informed choices about the future of sports and leisure.
 
For more information contact:
 
APSE Please contact Mo Baines on mbaines@apse.org.uk
 
LGA Please contact Caroline Horner on Caroline.Horner@local.gov.uk
 
CLOA Please contact Heidi Bellamy on info@cloa.org.uk
 

You can use this link to receive updates and to view the web hub where you can find more information about the project.

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.

 

 

 

 

 

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