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Sport and Low-Income Neighbourhoods

A basketball being thrown into a basketball hoop

Loughborough University academics from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences recently contributed to the Chiles Webster Batson Commission on Sport and Low-Income Neighbourhoods.

The Commission examined the importance of place-based, neighbourhood organisations that offer sport and physical activity as a means of improving lives with a focus on best practice in growing sports-based intervention in disadvantaged communities.

As part of the report, Loughborough University colleagues Dr Caron Walpole (Research Associate) and Dr Carolynne Mason (Senior Lecturer in Sport and Social Justice) provided evidence to its Community Safety roundtable and Dr Clare Holley contributed to The Holiday Gap roundtable.

The main findings were:

  • Persistent inequality in access to sport and sporting facilities contributes to health inequality and that lack of access to sport is an inequality in and of itself as children and young people in disadvantaged communities have less access to the public health benefits that arise from taking part in sport including confidence building, development of social networks and skills and strengthening community cohesion.
  • Locally Trusted Organisations (LTOs) have a vital role to play in tackling this inequality. LTOs are rooted in the community, are inclusive and share a common aim to enhance the lives of local children and young people through capitalising on the assets that exist in the community. LTOs can be youth centres, community safety or health projects, or community halls and tend to be voluntary, community, and social enterprise sector (VCSE) organisations. LTOs have established relationships with local families and organisations and are trusted by local people to provide in the ways that young people want to access it.
  • Despite recognising that LTOs have a vital role to play accessing funding is an ongoing challenge for LTOs which inevitably impacts on their ability to deliver and to be sustainable in the long term.

Jane Ashworth, part of the Commission secretariat added:

“In addition to the contributions from LTOs across the country, the Commission benefited hugely from the involvement of academics who were able to provide the latest evidence around the role of sport in addressing pressing social issues. Loughborough’s expertise in sport and community safety and sport’s role in addressing food poverty were both important contributions to the review.”