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This Girl Can helping to make leisure sector spaces safer and more inclusive for women

A group of women stand on one leg as part of an exercise class

Sport England is investing almost £500,000 of National Lottery funding into a consortium of sector partners who’ll work with This Girl Can to develop resources and training that’ll help leisure and fitness facilities ensure their spaces are safe and inclusive for all women.

The funding will allow Sport England to work with The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) and ukactive to empower the sector to better understand and support women’s safety in their facilities and develop and new provide tools and support.

As part of the project, £496,000 worth of funding will contribute to:

  • Partnering with safeguarding organisations and experts from both inside and outside the sector to bring on board their expertise
  • Developing tools, training and best-practice guidance to upskill the workforce on how to deal with issues relating to personal safety as well as providing the support to enable staff to also feel safer and more confident themselves 
  • The creation of sector-wide opportunities for leisure facilities to deliver, with a core focus on supporting women to use weights areas within facilities and reduce feelings of intimidation.

These will enable women to feel assured and confident in the facilities they visit, and leisure sector workforce members to feel equipped to support women and prioritise their inclusion and safety.

Research has found that many women cite personal safety concerns as one of the reasons they may be reluctant to be active in gyms and leisure centres, with two thirds of women who had attended a facility saying they had taken some measure to protect themselves from sexual harassment in a fitness or leisure centre.

By improving feelings of safety and inclusion, This Girl Can, ukactive and CIMSPA hope to increase participation of women in leisure settings more broadly and, therefore, continue working towards closing the persistent gender gap in activity levels.