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‘Unlock the potential of sport, recreation and physical activity to improve the health and wellbeing of the nation’ urge sector leaders

by | Jul 11, 2022 | News

County Durham Sport is one of 43 Active Partnerships, who are part of a coalition of leading organisations across sport, recreation and physical activity. This group has come together for to call for radical reform to support the growth and development of the sector.

A landmark report, ‘Unlocking the potential proposes a clear strategic vision for how to fully harness the sport, recreation and physical activity sector to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the nation and support our renewal as a country post-pandemic. The report argues the sector can be integral to successfully delivering a number of key Government priorities, including Levelling Up, driving economic growth, achieving Net Zero and supporting the NHS.

Leaders of the National Sector Partners Group organisations said:

“As leading voices in the sector, we are united in calling for fundamental change that will transform the role our sector can play in the national renewal. We believe that ours is a sector that needs to be empowered, supported and protected so that it can grow and realise its full societal potential. We also firmly believe that, by working more collaboratively with all arms of Government and its agencies, sport, recreation and physical activity can make a far greater contribution to the key public policy challenges the Government now faces.” 

The National Sector Partners Group will continue to work constructively with Government and wider stakeholders to take forward the recommendations in this report.

The proposed reforms closely align with County Durham Sport’s mission and strategic priorities. Here we highlight just a few key areas.

Challenging Inequalities and Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity

The report calls for greater access to investment through explicit inclusion of sport, recreation and physical activity in key Levelling Up funding streams.

Tackling national, regional, and local inequalities through Levelling Up is crucial. There are huge inequalities in health which might be alleviated through improved access to physical activity. Within County Durham, men in the most affluent areas can expect to live in good health for 20 years longer than men living in the least affluent areas.  Whilst healthy life expectancy in the North East (60) also lags behind the national average (63.5).

Children and Young People – Positive Experiences and Physical Literacy to Shape Healthy and Active Futures.

The report calls for an ambitious national strategy for PE, school sport and physical activity supported by long-term funding and clear accountability measures designed to drive up activity levels, health, and wellbeing of children and young people across all age groups.

29% of children in the North East are doing less than 30 minutes physical activity each day and only 38% feel confident about being active. We are tackling these challenges in County Durham through an exciting new vision for the School Games – focusing on diversity, inclusion and participation.

Active Environment – Creating an Environment Where Being Active is An Easy and Accessible Choice

The report calls for improved understanding of the availability and accessibility of built facilities and the natural environment at local level to identify risks and opportunities and target investment effectively.

In County Durham, we are blessed with areas of outstanding natural beauty, a dramatic coastline, and an extensive network of railway paths. We also have passionate leaders, providing activities and support to local people from small scale community venues in our towns and villages. Whilst acknowledging the importance of large leisure venues, investing in these small but mighty community assets can make physical activity more accessible to all.

Data available at: Understanding County Durham (