There are 7.4 million 10-19 year olds in the UK. 21%, or 1.6 million, live in families that are profoundly economically disadvantaged.  The numbers of 18-24 year olds not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) in the most deprived areas is double the national average.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies expects that another 400,000 children will grow up in poverty if current trends persist.  The early onset of mental health issues is a major concern.

Being born into poverty is bad luck.  Addressing inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice.  It also makes economic sense.  The rise in costs to the state and to the wider economy of lost productivity, welfare, sickness and treatment could be halted. 

Supporting young people as they make the transition to adulthood is critical.  Targeted work helps young people stay or get into training and employment, empowers them to make positive, non-offending choices, gives them opportunities to lead and contribute, and addresses inequalities by working with whole communities and families.[1]

Sport already contributes £11.2bn to the health economy, and volunteers are worth a further £2.7bn[2] in health terms.  ‘Sport for development’ (when we use sport to tackle issues such as substance misuse, crime, health and inclusion) generates savings of £4174 per participant, per year[3].  If our poorest young people are animated at the same rate as their richer peers, those savings will rise even further.

From a public health perspective, it’s important people feel healthier, more in control, resilient and more connected with their neighbours.  It is important that the places we live in become safer for work and play. 

Multiple areas of policy are involved and no single agency can do this alone.  A holistic approach that takes action on several fronts is required: strengthening and empowering the individual (changing lives) while simultaneously nurturing a supportive physical and social environment (changing communities) and developing health-friendly policy.  It sounds complicated. But, with cooperation from multiple agencies, it can and does happen. 

How StreetGames Influences Health Policy

Public Health England

StreetGames contributed to the development of PHE’s “Everybody Active, Every Day” framework by taking part in the round table meetings and consultations.  We also delivered workshops about physical activity in disadvantaged areas at the six PHE regional events in July 2014.

Public health England

Department of Health

StreetGames is a founding member of the Public Health Responsibility Deal Physical Activity Network.  We are signatories to three of the collective physical activity pledges under the Responsibility Deal, and we made our own individual pledge to engage 205,000 participants in regular sport in deprived areas by 2017.  We also chair the Youth Physical Activity Taskforce within the Network, bringing together all the organisations that have a youth focus.

NHS England

The Young People’s Health Partnership is a group of seven expert youth charities, including StreetGames. It ensures young people’s voices are heard by NHS England and that the voluntary sector plays a key role in prevention and the delivery of high quality health services to young people at local level.

National Consultations

During 2014, we contributed to the:

All Party Commission on Physical Activity (January)

Culture, Media and Sport Committee Enquiry into Women and Sport (July)

Local Authorities

Local authorities across the UK ask for evidence, case studies and guidance on Doorstep Sport – particularly its impact on the health of individuals and communities.  This data is used to create inclusive local strategies for sport and physical activity.  We meet regularly with Directors of Public Health, lead councillors for Health & Wellbeing and their Boards.  

[1] Stuart (2010) ‘Issues in Youth Transitions’

[2] Sport England (2013) ‘Economic Value of Sport’

[3] Substance (2013), sportworks: proving the value of sport

You can make a difference

Sport brings huge benefits to young people’s lives. Even a small donation helps us to make those benefits available to our most disadvantaged communities.

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