£5.5 million plan to get local people more active

Chris Boardman, Sport England chair, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands sign the MOU at Impact Fitness Academy in Tyseley

A 10-year plan to level up access to sport and physical activity across the West Midlands to help improve residents' physical and mental health has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority and Sport England.

As part of a new partnership, announced to mark the first anniversary of the Commonwealth Games, the WMCA and Sport England will work closer than ever before to make it easier for people from all parts of society to walk, cycle and take part in exercise and play sport more frequently.

They will identify and work with groups in the West Midlands who are least active in support of the shared goal of reducing the health inequalities that exist across the region – and highlighted in the WMCA’s Health of the Region report and the recently published West Midlands Mental Health Commission report.

The West Midlands has some of the highest levels of physical inactivity in England – with one third of children and over half of adults doing less than the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.

The partnership was announced in Birmingham by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, and Chris Boardman, Sport England chair, accompanied by Haniyah Kousar, the UK’s first female Muslim wrestling coach who is based at Impact Fitness Academy in Tyseley.

It will be backed by an initial £5.5 million of joint funding from the WMCA’s Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund and National Lottery funding administered by Sport England. The Mayor said:

“We know from work undertaken by the West Midlands Combined Authority - including the Health of the Region report and Mental Health Commission - that there are unfortunately barriers that too many local people face when it comes to taking part in sport and physical activity.

“I’m determined to address these health inequalities and this partnership with Sport England will help us in that vital effort.

“Our Legacy Enhancement Fund - combined with additional investment from Sport England - will ensure we maximise the post Games momentum to deliver tangible benefit for local people right across our region including those from some of our most deprived communities.”

Chris Boardman, chair of Sport England, added: “Being active can change lives both physically and mentally and it’s important that we continue to support people in the grassroots to be active and make a difference for themselves and their communities.

“Sport England’s Uniting the Movement strategy aims to provide opportunities for all people to access sport and physical activity, regardless of their backgrounds, bank balance or postcodes, but we know that barriers for some can often be tougher to break down than others.

“This 10-year partnership will make a vital difference for people in the West Midlands, following our substantial investment into the West Midlands and Commonwealth Games last year. I’m proud to see it help people get moving and reap the benefits that being active can have for them.”

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding took place at Impact Fitness Academy in Tyseley, which runs combat sports such as freestyle wrestling and boxing, with 130 registered participants. It received equipment from the Commonwealth Games Equipment Giveaway and a £10,000 B2022 Places and Spaces grant to enhance the gym space to be safer and more inclusive.


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