June 13, 2024

Archery GB joins call to make UK 'most active nation'

Archery GB has joined a coalition of more than 200 bodies, athletes, businesses and charities across health, sport, recreation, and physical activity in sending an open letter to party leaders calling on them to use the General Election to #TakeTheLead and commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe.

As the main parties announce their manifestos and the men’s Euros comes into focus this week, a survey of British adults asked where they think the UK ranks in Europe's league table for physical activity. Three-quarters (75%) guessed it would feature in the top 10, but the reality is the UK is a miserable joint-11th among 15 comparable nations.

The call for change is driven by the Active Partnerships network, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for Development Coalition, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust. Together these represent thousands of organisations, gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, sport’s governing bodies, and professionals across the UK.

The letter kickstarts a new campaign launched by the organisations today called #TakeTheLead, which will showcase the importance of creating a more active nation and, crucially, highlight the need for leadership by our national politicians to create the conditions for change. The 226 signatories range from major health bodies to sport’s national governing bodies, education providers, and the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups. Stars such as Rebecca Adlington, Ugo Monye, Adam Olaore and Darcey Bussell have also added their support.

The letter outlines the urgent need as well as the "unique opportunity" for any new government to unlock the full potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector, in a move that would be "transformative for communities across the UK". It says: "To overcome our national health crisis and deliver economic growth, we believe you must commit to the ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe and work with the industry to deliver this vision."

Collectively, the sector already saves the NHS £9.5bn every year by preventing illness and generates a total of £85bn annually in economic and social value. However, according to research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the value generated by the sector could be far greater if the UK reaches and exceeds the activity levels of its European peers.

The letter highlights priorities for the party leaders to focus on. These include reducing growing inequalities across the UK and driving significant change in activity levels, such as ensuring every child is active for at least 60 minutes every day, cutting red tape holding back growth, and embedding physical activity pathways into health and care systems.

Sport, recreation, and physical activity bind communities together across all ages, abilities, and backgrounds, and make the population healthier, happier, more productive, and more prosperous.
Making the UK the most active nation would help to reduce pressure off the NHS, boost productivity, and economic growth by helping more people to stay in work, improve physical and mental health from childhood, support the drive to net zero, and create more connected, inclusive communities.
Take the lead graphic

Ruth Hall, Chief Executive of Archery GB, said: "National Governing Bodies are instrumental in bringing about the positive change needed to encourage more people to get active. Archery GB work to develop our sport through increasing participation, widening access and education to support people of all ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities.

"Archery is a truly inclusive sport and a trailblazer for female equality, as well as being one of the original Paralympic sports. Everyone is welcome on the shooting line, so we call on the Government to support us in welcoming even more people to our sport and enabling us to achieve our vision of enriching lives through archery.

"This summer, we're launching Aim for Paris, our plan to encourage new archers into our sport while bringing together the archery community to celebrate the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. But, beyond the Games, we want the Government to support the sport and physical activity sector to increase opportunities for people to keep active and enjoy the benefits of archery for both physical and mental health."

Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: "By asking our political leaders to commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe, we aren’t just asking them to commit to the power of physical activity, we are imploring them to reimagine the role of sport and recreation in society and, crucially, to put it at the heart of their policy making.

"Already in this election, we are seeing parties focus on the need to grow the economy, fix the NHS, cut crime, tackle climate change, and reduce inequalities. We know that sport and recreation do all this and more – from cricket to yoga, and dance to orienteering. But so much more could be delivered if the true potential of the sector was unlocked. That requires a renewed sense of ambition and prioritisation from policymakers. And that’s what we’re calling for – our national politicians to step up, take the lead and make the UK the most active nation in Europe."

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