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THE NEED to understand and widen the mental health benefits of sport activity has prompted Scottish law firm Burke Legal to support the Observatory for Sport in Scotland’s research over the next three years.

Originally from Glasgow, Iain Burke owns his own practice based in the Scottish Borders, Burke Legal, which is the newest addition to the growing stable of OSS Corporate Partners backing research into all avenues of sport activity and its impact on health, education and the economy. Iain is also convenor of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland and has held national roles with the Law Society.

He commented: “Being a practitioner in mental health law for over 30 years, I am acutely aware of the mental health benefits that sport brings to people of all ages and backgrounds.

“I have previously supported professional colleagues as a former member of the Council of the Law Society for the Borders and was Convener of the Law Society Equality and Diversity Committee for two years, and as convenor of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland I sit with colleagues from diverse backgrounds in psychiatry, social work and wider mental health care services.

“I am passionate therefore about the ability of services and organisation to work together to support people, and the role that sport can play in that is regularly overlooked. For me, this partnership with the OSS is about looking more widely at sport activity, and how we can support the Observatory to widen research and evidence-gathering to help everyone to tap into the benefits of regular activity.

“I’m personally very keen on sport and having had two children come through the education system I have also become concerned at the lack of opportunities for young people to follow through early enthusiasm in sport, particularly in less traditional activities. The work the OSS does to look at the wider benefits of sport from that teenage drop-off to older age, across a wide range of activity, is hugely important.”

David Ferguson, OSS Chief Executive, concurred, adding: “We are delighted to welcome Iain and Burke Legal to the OSS and particularly pleased that our work to understand how sport plays a part in supporting mental health is being recognised.

“We are currently developing research into barriers to sport for people with disabilities, and people in deprived communities where poverty and trauma have created barriers to regular activity for people of all ages. There were real concerns around mental health prior to the pandemic, linked to Scotland’s levels of inactivity and isolation, but a year and more of lockdowns has brought that into sharp focus. We know there are real opportunities, and our role is identifying, scrutinising and sharing those solutions. The support from Burke Legal and other partners will play a key role in widening and deepening the research to achieve that and we thank them for joining us.”

Iain is an experienced solicitor, who specialises in employment law and HR matters, representing and advising a significant number of business clients across Scotland.

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