ukactive have partnered with Vivify to help schools across England ensure their facilities are more easily accessible and hireable, with the aim to give more people the opportunity to stay active.
Around 39% of the UK’s sporting facilities are located behind locked school gates, with many being facilities being unable to be used by the general public after school times. Last year, approximately 2.4 million people went through the school doors to use facilities, proving what is possible, when the sport and leisure sector is struggling to keep facilities open. Through the partnership with ukactive, Vivify’s goal of opening more school facilities out of school hours – with reasonably priced hire costs – is designed to help address some of the issues.
Current research is showing the cost-of-living crisis is having a glaring detrimental impact on the sport and leisure sector, with the repercussions risking the physical and mental health of the nation. Forty-three per cent of people said the rising costs of living will have a negative impact on their ability to participate in sports and exercise, while a report by ukactive showed that up to 40% of leisure facilities are at risk of closing if greater support is not received from the Government.
Research has identified that every pound spent on community sport, physical activity and leisure equates to an economic return of investment of £3.91 in social value back to individuals and society. Of this investment into sport and physical activity, a social value of up to £42bn is estimated to be generated in support of mental wellbeing, with £110m of this linked to prevented cases of depression.
Secondary to this, £20bn in social value is generated that supports social and community development – which includes fewer incidents of crime and enhanced social capital. If this investment stops or continues to drop, the ripple effect on society would be devastating.
The cost-of-living crisis has been shown to be likely suffered mostly by the underpriviledged and poorer population, who cannot afford to attend private gyms, those participating in non-sporting activities, and those on the lowest incomes, risking further health inequality across the country.
In July 2022, one-third of UK adults stated that the cost-of-living crisis has discouraged them from using their local leisure facilities. While research in 2022 showed just 14% of the UK population attend gyms, but what about the other 85% – how do we cater for the rest of the community?
Currently, Vivify has no Scottish facilities, and only works with schools across England, however a system like this in Scotland be effective at giving communities more access and opportunities to remain active and healthy?