Northern Ireland Assembly Flax Flower Logo
Session 2010/2011
Fourth Report
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure

Report on the
Committee’s Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in Northern Ireland

Together with the Minutes of Proceedings, Minutes of Evidence,
Memoranda and written submissions Relating to the Report
Ordered by The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to be printed 1 July 2010

Report: NIA 73/09/10R (Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure)

Membership and Powers

Powers

The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure is a Statutory Departmental Committee established in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Belfast Agreement, Section 29 of the NI Act 1998 and under Assembly Standing Order 48. The Committee has a scrutiny, policy development and consultation role with respect to the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure and has a role in the initiation, consideration and development of legislation.

The Committee has the power to:

Membership

The Committee has 11 members, including a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, with a quorum of five members.

The membership of the Committee since 9 May 2007 has been as follows:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr Declan O’Loan (Deputy Chairperson) c, g [1]
Lord Browne of Belmont
Mr Raymond McCartney b
Mr Thomas Burns g
Mr David McClarty h
Mr Trevor Clarke d
Ms Michelle McIlveen e
Mr Billy Leonard f
Mr Ken Robinson a
Mr Kieran McCarthy

[1]a Mr Ken Robinson replaced Mr David Burnside with effect from 18 June 2007.
b Mr Raymond McCartney replaced Mr Paul Maskey with effect from 10 March 2008.
c Mr PJ Bradley replaced Mr Pat Ramsey with effect from 29 June 2009.
d Mr Trevor Clarke replaced Mr Jim Shannon with effect from 15 September 2009.
e Ms Michelle McIlveen replaced Mr Nelson McCausland with effect from 15 September 2009.
f Mr Billy Leonard replaced Mr Francie Brolly with effect from 7 January 2010.
g Mr David McNarry ceased to be the Deputy Chairperson and Member of the Committee with effect from 12 April 2010. Mr Declan O’Loan was appointed Deputy Chairperson with effect from 13 April 2010. Mr Thomas Burns replaced Mr P J Bradley with effect from 24 May 2010. Mr P J Bradley replaced Mr Declan O’Loan as Deputy Chairperson with effect from 28 May 2010. Mr Declan O’Loan replaced Mr P J Bradley as Deputy Chairperson with effect from 28 June 2010.
h Mr David McClarty was appointed as a Member with effect from 13 April 2010. Mr Dominic Bradley ceased to be a Member with effect from 13 April 2010.

 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations used in the Report iv

Report

Executive Summary

List of Recommendations

Introduction

1. Current levels of participation

2. Groups which have lower levels of participation within the adult population

3. Barriers to participation

4. Solutions

Appendix 1:

Minutes of Proceedings

Appendix 2:

Minutes of Evidence

Appendix 3:

List of Written Submissions to the Committee

Appendix 4:

Written Submissions to the Committee

Appendix 5:

List of Witnesses who gave Oral Evidence to the Committee

Appendix 6:

List of Research Papers

Appendix 7:

Research Papers

Appendix 8:

List of Additional Information considered by the Committee

Appendix 9:

Additional Information considered by the Committee

Appendix 10:

List of Additional Information from Witnesses

Appendix 11:

Additional Information from Witnesses

List of Abbreviations used in the Report

BIG Big Lottery Fund

BMA British Medical Association

BMFA British Model Flying Association

CHS Continuous Household Survey

DCAL Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure

DOE Department of the Environment

DEL Department for Employment and Learning

DENI Department of Education

DETI Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment

DHSSPS Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

DRD Department for Regional Development

DSD Department for Social Development

GAA Gaelic Athletic Association

NICE National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

OFMDFM Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister

RNIB Royal National Institute for Blind People

SNI Sport Northern Ireland

Sport Matters Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and
Physical Recreation 2009-2019

PE Physical Education

Executive Summary

Purpose of the Report

The role of sport and physical activity as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle has been recognised for some time. Recommended levels of participation have been set by the Chief Medical Officer, and in Northern Ireland it is recommended that adults should take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week.

However, statistics show that levels of participation among adults in Northern Ireland have been falling for some time, and as such under the Programme for Government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation by securing 53% participation.

In this report, the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure has sought to identify and analyse the barriers to participation, and to consider solutions to increasing participation levels both across the population as a whole and among groups with lower than average participation rates.

Main Findings

The Committee came to the conclusion that the Executive needs to champion participation in sport and physical activity and ensure that all relevant departments are assigned targets for facilitating participation opportunities under the next Programme for Government. The Committee also recommended that the DHSSPS should invest more of its budget in preventative health measures which involve participation in physical activity.

While the inquiry focused on adults, the Committee recognised that more needs to be done by schools and sports clubs to encourage participation from early childhood until children leave formal education, in order to create the habit for life of participation in sport and physical activity.

In relation to facilities, the Committee came to the view that government departments, local government authorities and sports governing bodies need to maximise the use of land and properties under their control for participation in sport and physical activity.

The Committee recognised that employers have a key role to play in terms of pro-actively encouraging employees to participate in sport and physical activity as part of a wider focus on work/life balance, and that as such DETI should provide advice to employers on such matters.

It is clear that at present the importance of participating in sport and physical activity is not getting through to the majority of the population. Therefore, the Committee is in favour of a government led advertising campaign which contains simple messages as to how people can build either/both organised sporting activity and informal physical activity into their everyday lives.

List of Recommendations

1. We recommend that the Executive prioritises the need to increase participation in sport and physical activity and accordingly provides the necessary funding to implement ‘Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation, 2009 – 2019’ in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

2. We recommend to the Executive that the next Programme for Government contains Public Service Agreements for all relevant government departments in relation to actions aimed at increasing participation in sport and physical activity.

3. We recommend that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) invests more of its budget in preventative health measures which involve participation in physical activity, as a means of reducing obesity related illness and the associated financial cost to the health service over future years.

4. We recommend that the Department of Education is more pro-active in terms of assisting schools to meet the target of providing 2 hours of Physical Education (PE) per week. We recommend that the Department of Education makes it an urgent priority for primary schools to meet this target.

5. We recommend that governing bodies of sport review how they can work more closely with schools to ensure that structures are in place to encourage young people to continue participating in sport and physical activity once they leave formal education.

6. We recommend that sport governing bodies put in place structures to facilitate lifelong participation in sport and physical activity for their members. The Committee points to the good work being done in this area by the GAA as a model of best practice.

7. We recommend that local government authorities conduct an audit of the sport/physical activity facilities currently in their area and develop plans to maximise their use, as well as identifying any gaps in current provision.

8. We recommend that all government departments and their agencies maximise the use of land and properties under their control for participation in sport and physical activity. This includes provision of safe bicycle parking facilities.

9. We recommend that the Department of Education makes school facilities more available to local communities at evenings, weekends and during school holidays.

10. We recommend that the Department for Regional Development (DRD) and local government authorities continue to develop safe walk and cycle paths to encourage more people to take part in informal physical activity and to encourage active travel.

11. We recommend that DRD reduces the speed limits on roads which form part of the National Cycle Network and/or increase signage for motorists in the interests of safety.

12. We recommend that sport governing bodies maximise the facilities under their control to encourage complementary physical activity participation opportunities. For example, the Committee welcomes the creation of flood-lit walkways around sports pitches which provide a safe walking environment.

13. We recommend that local government authorities review changing facilities provision at leisure centres with a view to accommodating both single sex and family changing areas.

14. We recommend that Sport NI sets targets for sport governing bodies to increase their participation rates as part of grant funding packages.

15. We recommend that Sport NI continues to work with other partners to promote programmes which combine physical activity with healthy eating.

16. We recommend that the Executive provides funding on an ongoing basis for advertising campaigns to promote the health benefits of participation in sport and physical activity. Such campaigns should be targeted at the population as a whole and focus on simple messages as to how people can build either/both organised sporting activity and informal physical activity into their everyday lives.

17. We recommend that public and private sector employers pro-actively encourage employees to participate in sport and physical activity as part of a wider focus on work/life balance.

18. We recommend that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI), provides advice to employers as to how they can collaborate with sport/leisure service providers regarding the provision of participation opportunities for employees.

19. We recommend that DETI provides advice to employers as to how they can facilitate more active travel to work, for example through the provision of bicycle storage and changing facilities.

20. We recommend that Sport NI, local authorities, other public sector funders and sports governing bodies fund programmes which provide opportunities for families to participate as a unit in sport and physical activity.

21. We recommend the expansion of specific programmes aimed at increasing participation among women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities.

22. We recommend that local government authorities explore ways of encouraging more people with childcare responsibilities to use their leisure facilities.

23. We recommend that local government authorities explore ways of encouraging more people on lower incomes to use their leisure facilities.

24. We recommend that local authorities enhance training for staff at leisure centres on how to best provide services for women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities.

Introduction

Inquiry Terms of Reference

1. The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure agreed to conduct an inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland on 10 December 2009. The terms of reference for the inquiry were agreed at the Committee meeting on 7 January 2010.

Terms of Reference for the Inquiry

2. The Committee sought to identify, analyse and consider solutions to the ongoing decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity as evidenced in the NI Continuous Household Survey.

3. Under the Programme for Government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity by securing 53% participation. The Committee is concerned that all steps are taken as necessary to meet that target.

4. Within that framework the Committee sought to:

The Inquiry Process

5. The Committee made the decision to hold an inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland in December 2009. Advertisements requesting submissions by 12 February 2010 were placed in the local newspapers. In addition, the Committee agreed to write to 122 individuals and interest groups, to request submissions on each of the matters included within the terms of reference. A list of those individuals and groups that submitted evidence is attached at Appendix 3.

6. The Committee received 36 submissions and considered oral evidence from 10 key stakeholders, including the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. A list of witnesses who provided oral evidence to the Committee is attached at Appendix 5. Transcripts of the oral evidence sessions are attached at Appendix 2.

7. The Committee received additional information to further inform the inquiry. A list of the additional information considered by the Committee can be found at Appendix 8. Copies of these additional papers are included at Appendix 9.

8. The Committee also commissioned 6 research papers on participation in sport and physical activity.

9. Copies of these papers are included in Appendix 7.

10. During the month of March 2010 Assembly Research Services personnel met with 5 school groups who were on routine visits to the Northern Ireland Assembly. A discussion was facilitated on what both motivates and acts as obstacles to young adults participating in sport and physical activity. A series of questions were put to each of the 5 groups and a report on the findings is at Appendix 9.

11. On 23 March 2010, the Chairperson and secretariat staff participated in an audio conferencing session at Stormont Castle with a Finnish government official from the Ministry of Education. The discussion centred around the strategies adopted by the government in Finland to successfully increase participation in sport and physical activity in their country. A report of the discussion is at Appendix 9.

12. On 25 March 2010 Assembly Research Services hosted a stakeholder conference in the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings on behalf of the Committee. Twenty-seven delegates from 17 organisations attended, along with Members of the Committee and various topics in relation to the inquiry were discussed across 5 different focus groups. A report on the findings of the conference is at Appendix 9.

13. The Committee considered its draft recommendations on 20 May, 27 May and 3 June. The draft report was considered on 17 June, 24 June and on 1 July 2010 the Committee agreed its final report and ordered that the report be printed.

Acknowledgements

14. The Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure would like to express and record its appreciation and thanks to all the organisations and individuals who contributed to the inquiry.

Chapter 1 — Current levels of participation

Recommended levels of physical activity

15. The role of sport and physical activity as an essential part of a healthy lifestyle has been recognised for some time. Recommended levels of participation have been set by the Chief Medical Officer, and in Northern Ireland it is recommended that adults should take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five times a week.[1]

16. There are many benefits at both an individual and community level from participating in sport and physical activity. These include enhanced physical and mental well-being, improved productivity at the workplace, social and community cohesion, enhanced educational achievement and positive environmental impacts.

17. In addition sport makes a significant contribution to the economy. Figures from 2006/2007 show that in Northern Ireland spending on sport contributed £452 million per annum to the economy or 2% of GDP. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board estimates that activity tourism contributes £30 million a year to the local economy, and there are approximately 13,700 people employed in sport and physical recreation activities in Northern Ireland.[2]

18. In terms of the health benefits which result from participating in sport and physical activity, these are particularly strong. When Sport NI presented oral evidence to the Committee it quoted the Chief Medical Officer speaking in 2005:

The scientific evidence is compelling. Physical activity not only contributes to well-being, but is also essential for good health . . . There are few public health initiatives that have greater potential for improving health and well-being than increasing activity levels.[3]

19. The British Medical Association NI (BMA(NI)) made a similar point when it addressed the Committee:

The British Medical Association has a long-term interest in the health of the public and believes that the most effective way to improve the population’s health is to improve activity levels among inactive people.[4]

The costs of physical inactivity

20. When it is accepted that participating in sport and physical activity is essential in terms of health, it follows that the consequences of low levels of participation are serious.

21. Both Sport NI and BMA (NI) referred the Committee to a report by the Northern Ireland Audit Office in 2009 stating that around 2,000 deaths a year in Northern Ireland can be attributed to physical inactivity.[5]

22. BMA (NI) elaborate further on the health-related dangers of physical inactivity:

However, the evidence demonstrates that an inactive lifestyle has a substantial negative impact on both individual and public health and is the primary contributor to a broad range of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. The high level of individual suffering caused by those diseases, together with the substantial associated financial costs, makes this a major public health issue.[6]

23. The cost of physical inactivity is not only in terms of people’s health, but it also has an economic dimension. It is recognised that physical inactivity is a fundamental cause of obesity and obesity is expensive.[7] Both Sport NI and Belfast Healthy Cities made the point that obesity levels in the UK have doubled in the last 25 years, and in Northern Ireland 59% of adults are either overweight or obese.[8] BMA (NI) provided some stark statistics:

Obesity is estimated to be causing around 450 deaths each year in Northern Ireland with a cost of around £500 million to the economy (Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2002), “Investing for Health”, Belfast, DHSSPS).

It also places additional demands on the health and personal social services. Tackling obesity could save the health service in Northern Ireland £8.4 million, reduce sickness absence by 170,000 days and add an extra ten years of life onto an individual’s life span (Source: DHSSPS Economics Branch (2003), “Unhealthy Living Model 2nd Edition”, Belfast, DHSSPS)[9].

Statistics on current levels of participation in sport and physical activity in NI

24. There are a number of indicators relating to adult participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.

25. Sport NI advised the Committee that the data from the Continuous Household Survey (CHS) revealed that in 2008-2009 only 45% of the adult population had participated in sport once a year. In 2007-2008 the figure was 49% and in 1999-2000 it was 59%. This demonstrates that activity levels have been declining.[10]

26. The figures on the number of people in Northern Ireland meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations on physical activity levels are also low. Only 30% of adults are meeting the target. As BMA (NI) put it:

In terms of physical activity, the Northern Ireland health and social well-being survey found that only 30% of adults in Northern Ireland meet the 150-minute criterion. Therefore, 70% of people are still inactive or do not take enough exercise to be beneficial to their health.[11]

European context

27. The statistics for Northern Ireland are part of a wider European trend. A recent survey revealed that one in four Europeans are almost totally inactive. It was found that 40% of EU citizens play sport at least once a week and 65% engage in some form of physical activity, while 25% of the respondents declared themselves to be almost completely inactive.[12]

28. However, the figures do fluctuate considerably between the various parts of the EU, with the percentage of people taking regular exercise varying from 72% in Finland to 3% in Greece. Finland (72%), Sweden (72%) and Denmark (64%) all outstrip the EU average of 40% for people exercising once a week or more.[13]

Sport NI research on participation levels

29. “Sport Matters – The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation 2009-2019” was launched by DCAL in May 2010. It focuses heavily on the need to halt the decline and then increase participation levels among adults. Sport Matters contains 26 high level targets across the themes of participation, performance and places. Fourteen of these targets relate to participation.

30. In addition Sport NI is currently carrying out research into adult sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland and the final report is expected in late 2010.

31. During its oral evidence to the inquiry Sport NI provided a broad overview of the sport and physical activity survey known as SAPAS:

The survey is the largest that has been commissioned since 1994. It will provide statistically robust data on participation rates, information on club membership, volunteering and coaching in sport, as well as information on many other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and fruit and vegetable consumption.

We developed a new research instrument because we felt that the CHS did not provide the data that we needed to formulate and implement policy. The sport and physical activity survey (SAPAS) will provide us and this Committee in particular with the information that is needed to get the full picture of what happens with sport.[14]

32. The Committee welcomes the survey and looks forward to the publication of its findings. It is anticipated that the information gathered in the context of the Committee’s inquiry will serve to complement the research being carried out by Sport NI.

Chapter 2 — Groups which have lower levels of participation within the adult population

33. While it is clear that the adult population as a whole needs to increase the amount of exercise it takes, there are particular groups within the population which experience even lower than average participation rates. The Committee recognised that there needs to be a two-pronged approach – that is increasing participation rates both across the population as a whole and among specific groups with a history of low levels of participation.

34. At the outset of the inquiry, the Committee commissioned a paper from Assembly Research Services to identify the groups which have lower levels of participation within the adult population. The research paper identified the following groups:

35. This ties in with the information contained in DCAL’s Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation 2009-2019.[16] It identifies women, people with disabilities, people from areas of social disadvantage, and older people as having lower levels of participation, and includes specific targets for increasing their participation rates by 2019.

36. A similar picture emerged from the evidence gathered at the Committee’s stakeholder focus group conference. Participants identified a number of under-represented groups - older people, people with disabilities, women, people from disadvantaged areas, and people from black and ethnic minority communities.[17]

Women

37. Sport Matters states that the evidence shows that female adult participation rates are lower than those for males. The Continuous Household Survey 2005/2006 revealed that only 25% of females had participated in the previous week compared to 36% of males – a gap of 11%.

38. This pattern is evident in other countries and regions. The Sports Council for Wales told the inquiry:

There are also disparities in levels of participation by gender group: 54% of adult men in Wales regularly participate in sport and physical recreation; this compares to 47% of adult women.[18]

39. Similarly, Sport Scotland reported that in Scotland males are more likely to participate than females (76% versus 70%).[19] Again, information from the Republic of Ireland told a similar story. The Irish Sports Council advised:

In 2005, the Women in Sport initiative was established to address the clear gender gap in sports participation with only 34% women participating regularly compared to 52% of men.[20]

40. The Public Health Agency also referred to women having lower levels of participation, in particular young mothers:

In addition to the general population figures mentioned above, research addressing the specific groups of women and young people has demonstrated that 72% of women in Northern Ireland do not participate in enough physical activity, with young mothers having the lowest levels of physical activity (former Health Promotion Agency, 2008, Armstrong, Bauman & Davies, 2000).[21]

41. Sport NI also pointed to new mothers as a group prone to lower participation levels, stating:

It is recognised that there is a drop in participation in sports after children are born.[22]

People with disabilities

42. Sport Matters states that recent data indicates that participation rates for people with a disability are around half that for the adult population as a whole. It refers to the Continuous Household Survey 2005/2006 which revealed that only 13% of people with a disability had participated in the previous week compared to 29% for the adult population as a whole.

People from areas of social disadvantage

43. Sport Matters states that recent data indicates that people from socio-economically disadvantaged groups have lower levels of participation. The Continuous Household Survey 2005/2006 revealed that only 20% of people from socio-economic groups D and E had participated in the previous week compared to 29% for the adult population as a whole.

44. Evidence from the Irish Sports Council suggests that income can play a significant role in terms of influencing whether a person participates in sport and physical activity. A report in 2008 indicated a 2% drop in active participation in sport among adults in the Republic of Ireland. The Irish Sports Council states:

The evidence very strongly suggests that the recession was behind the drop in active participation. The decline was concentrated among lower income households. The sharpest fall also coincided with the steep drop in consumer spending that occurred in early 2008. And the hardest hit activities were individual sports such as golf and exercise activities (e.g. using the gym), which tend to be more expensive.[23]

45. Similarly, Sport Scotland advised that in Scotland participation increases as deprivation decreases, with 80% participation in the least deprived areas compared to 63% in the most deprived areas in 2008.[24]

46. The Sports Council for Wales backed up this finding:

There is also a clear relationship between participation and social class. The highest levels of participation are seen in socio-economic group (SEG) AB and the lowest in SEG E.[25]

Older people

47. Sport Matters states that recent data indicates that participation rates for older people (aged 50 or over) have lower levels of participation. The Continuous Household Survey 2005/2006 revealed that only 18% of older people had participated in the previous week compared to 29% for the adult population as a whole.

48. A similar situation exists in Wales as reported by the Sports Council for Wales:

. . . there is variation in the levels of participation by age: 66% of 15-24 year olds regularly participate in sport and physical recreation, this drops with age to 35% of 65+ year olds who regularly participate.[26]

Chapter 3 — Barriers to participation

49. The Committee recognised that there are both general barriers to participation which affect the adult population as a whole, and the barriers specific to each of the groups identified in Chapter 2.

General barriers

50. The inquiry identified a range of general barriers which can prove an obstacle to people participating in sport and physical activity. They key barriers are explored below.

Knowledge barriers - what is physical activity and what levels are required?

51. A lack of knowledge in relation to the required levels of physical activity for health benefits, as well as suitable types of activity can act as a barrier to more people taking exercise.

52. Sport NI advised the Committee that the vast majority of adults do not know what the recommended levels of physical activity as set down by the Chief Medical Officer are:

We carried out a survey of public attitudes to sport and physical activity in 2008. Only 7% of the adults who were surveyed indicated that they were aware of and understood the recommendations on physical activity. That tells us straightaway that there is work to be done.[27]

53. Similarly, research conducted by Assembly Research Services with local school groups revealed that respondents from only two out of the five groups had an awareness of the “30 minutes a day five days a week message.”[28]

54. As well as there being a lack of knowledge about the appropriate levels of physical activity, there can be inadequate understanding of what constitutes physical activity. For example, the research conducted with local school groups asked participants to describe their impressions of an ‘active person’. Across all the groups the term ‘active’ was linked to ‘sporty’. Terms linking ‘active’ to non-competitive physical activity, in other words not sport, were cited less frequently.[29]

55. This ties in with the evidence obtained from the stakeholder focus groups conference held as part of the inquiry. Delegates stated that the terms ‘sport’ and ‘physical activity’ were not sufficiently defined and thus acted as a barrier. The view was put forward that a broad definition of physical activity, including home, leisure, work and travel based activities was required.[30]

56. A lack of self-confidence was also identified as a barrier to participation. Delegates at the stakeholder focus groups event made the point that many people hold negative self-beliefs such as ‘I am not fit/thin/young enough’ to take part in sport or physical activity.[31]

57. Inhibiting ideas about what constitutes physical activity and what sorts of people can take part in it, can sometimes stem from negative experiences of PE at school.

58. The research obtained from the stakeholder focus group event revealed that too much emphasis on competitive sport at school can lead to people having a negative perception of exercise in general.[32] This point was also made in written evidence by a fitness trainer in describing his typical client:

In my findings this type of client has no sporting background and PE at school consisted of a specific sport which held no interest for them. Being forced into doing it put them off any kind of sport.[33]

59. An Assembly research paper commissioned for the inquiry suggested that PE in the school environment is very much centred on competitive sports. A study carried out in 2002 on physical education systems within the EU noted a number of factors which have had a negative affect on physical education provision and pupil experiences of PE. These factors include the PE curricula being almost exclusively focussed on competitive sports.[34]

Cultural barriers - sedentary nature of modern life

60. The evidence gathered during the inquiry pointed to the fact that the culture of modern life itself could act as a barrier to participation.

61. Many adults spend the majority of their days at the workplace which in some instances can discourage physical activity. The British Medical Association NI (BMA (NI)) explained that many jobs involve long periods of sitting and physical inactivity:

However, nowadays, the seats that we are sitting on are possibly the most dangerous items, because they lead to complacency as we sit in our offices gazing at computer screens. That has a cumulative effect and increases the number of hours that we spend doing nothing other than moving our mouse hand.[35]

62. BMA (NI) also argued that even the type of clothing employees are expected to wear in the workplace mitigates against active travel to and from the work place, a form of physical activity which is recognised as being an integral part of increasing participation levels:

I was struck, reading some of the papers, to find that dress code at work is an issue. To dress as we are today, very elegantly and neatly, does not lend itself to cycling or jogging into work.[36]

63. Sport NI put forward a similar view:

Some of the reasons offered for that decline are evidence based and relate to the sedentary nature of many jobs, the increased use of the car and less reliance on active travel . . .[37]

64. Delegates at the stakeholder focus group conference also flagged up these cultural barriers to greater participation:

Delegates argued that modern lifestyles, which value convenience and productivity, made it easier to be sedentary. It was noted that working practices, in which individuals are desk bound, work long hours and often work through their lunch, were counter-productive to active lifestyles.[38]

Practical barriers - lack of appropriate facilities and ability to travel to them

65. The evidence obtained from the stakeholder focus group event suggested that the practical issues of access to and cost of facilities could be barriers to participation across society. For example, not all local leisure centres offer a swimming pool thus negating swimming as an option for those who would favour this form of exercise. Participants also noted that there was a lack of well lit, green spaces suitable for walking, particular in the evenings.[39] This issue was also raised by BMA (NI) who referred to a lack of playgrounds and parks close to where people live.[40]

66. The cost of accessing facilities and classes was also raised by delegates at the stakeholder focus group event, as was the availability and cost of public transport. This is particularly problematic in rural areas.[41] This point was also made by the Women’s Centre Regional Partnership (WCRP) and the Countryside Access & Activities Network.[42]

Barriers for groups with lower levels of participation

Women

67. The inquiry identified a range of barriers which can prevent women from participating in sport and physical activity.

68. One of the key issues is the availability of suitable childcare. The WCRP stated:

In the research that was carried out before the project began, and through the work that women’s organisations do in general, lack of childcare was identified as being the biggest barrier that women face.[43]

69. Sport NI made a similar point:

It is recognised that there is a drop in participation in sports after children are born. Whenever a busy lifestyle becomes hectic, people have less time for themselves. They also face the additional problems of getting childcare and crèche facilities and finding the personal space to get out and be active.[44]

70. The WCRP argued that women face additional caring responsibilities, not limited to childcare, which can impede on the time available for exercise:

However, childcare is only one aspect of the caring responsibilities that women in Northern Ireland have, and those caring responsibilities can last a lifetime. When women are young, they may care for their siblings; when they are mothers, they care for their children; and, even in later life, women may care for their elderly parents, a member of their family who is sick or their grandchildren.[45]

71. This point is linked to the issue of women not prioritising themselves and being reluctant to devote time and money to their own well-being. The Public Health Agency in their written submission cited research showing that young mothers are almost twice as likely as men to experience time pressures as a result of the demands of young children, indeed this may be one of the main barriers to getting young mothers physically active. A lack of time and the demands of parenting can all be barriers for women.[46]

72. This theme was also identified in research commissioned by the Committee which stated one study had found that 66% of women in the UK experience time pressures, and that these pressures are most acute among working mothers.[47]

73. Similarly, the WCRP stated:

However, being a woman in a disadvantaged community creates an added economic disadvantage. Those women belong to households with very limited disposable income and, because many women are not the earner of what little income is brought into the household, there is reluctance on their part to spend that income on themselves. Women prioritise the needs of the family.[48]

74. The GAA also referred to the tendency for women to prioritise the needs of the family:

Time is an issue, particularly for women whose focus moves once they get married and start to have families; they start to shy away from and then exit sport.[49]

75. A further barrier identified by research commissioned by the Committee is the perception that sport and physical activity are unfeminine. One of the contributing factors is the media’s portrayal and coverage of women’s sport. One study revealed that in 2006 newspaper coverage of women’s sport accounted for only 5% of total sporting coverage. It has been argued that this attitude has marginalised women’s sport and instilled negative perceptions of sport and physical activity among women, particularly in their formative years. Alongside this issue is the fact that there is a lack of positive, physically active female role models.[50]

People with a disability

76. A lack of accessible facilities can act as a barrier to participation among people with a disability. Access can take two forms – the physical design and layout of the facility, and the ability of staff to be able to facilitate the needs of disabled persons.

77. In its evidence to the Committee, the GAA referred to the issue of physical access:

Disability access is another concern. Although Sport NI emphasises the need to make facilities accessible for people with disabilities, constant improvement is required, particularly with respect to changing rooms.[51]

78. Similarly, the research commissioned by the Committee stated that the built environment and the design of equipment can act as a barrier to participation. Furthermore, facilities often lack dedicated staff members to assist with access issues.[52]

79. The RNIB and the Countryside Access & Activities Network both identified a lack of awareness on the part of service providers as to the needs of disabled people. In addition, cost can be another barrier when the disabled person requires a companion to undertake the activity with them, and the companion is required to pay an entrance fee. The availability of suitable public transport for those with a disability was also mentioned.[53]

80. Craigavon Borough Council also made the point that a lack of competitive sporting opportunities could act as a barrier to people with a disability.[54]

Older people

81. Older people can face a range of barriers in terms of participation. Craigavon Borough Council made the point that there may be lack of suitable activities available for older people provided by coaches who understand older people’s particular health concerns. Older people can also lack the self-confidence to take part in sport or physical activity.[55]

82. The Older People’s Advocate advised that transport can also be an issue, because not all older people drive:

Another area where we would find older people would struggle to use the facilities available to them would be in relation to transport - many forms of community transport focus on providing access to facilities for those with disabilities but there are many older people particularly women who do not drive and therefore find it difficult to get themselves from their homes to the leisure facilities especially in rural areas.[56]

83. The Older People’s Advocate also made the point that older people these days can often have caring responsibilities which impact on their ability to take part in physical activity:

Some find when using the facilities for older people the crèche is closed meaning any grandparents with caring responsibilities cannot use the facilities available to them.[57]

84. Another barrier of a practical nature is the financial cost of participating in activities. This particularly affects older people as research shows that 17% of older people live in low income households.[58]

85. As is the case with women, a lack of role models in the media can deter older people from participating. Linked to that is the self-perception by some older people who consider themselves as being ‘past it’ and the cultural notion that during retirement people should ‘put their feet up’ and become less active.[59] Delegates at the stakeholder focus group made a similar point suggesting that older people were largely under the impression that they should ‘sit back and take it easy’.[60]

People from areas of social disadvantage

86. Taking part in sport and physical activity can involve financial costs in terms of club membership, equipment, entrance fees to leisure centres, transport costs, and childcare costs. For people on lower incomes these costs can prove an obstacle to participation.

87. Delegates at the stakeholder focus group event suggested that there may also be a psychological barrier for people from areas of social disadvantage, including a lack of self confidence and motivation.[61]

88. A lack of safety was also raised by delegates as a barrier, specifically in areas of social disadvantage where well lit, green spaces are often not available. This point was also made in a research paper commissioned by the Committee which stated that in areas of high crime people might be disinclined from jogging or walking.[62]

89. The correlation between educational achievement and rate of participation in physical activity is also a relevant factor. Those with lower levels of education may have had under exposure to health messages and are therefore inclined to participate less.[63]

People from minority ethnic groups

90. For people from ethnic minorities language and culture can act as barriers to participation. The issue of language was mentioned by the Countryside Access & Activities Network and the Irish Football Association (IFA).[64]

91. In its oral evidence, the GAA explained some of the difficulties and how they were working to overcome them:

Engagement with foreign nationals is another barrier to overcome for adult active recreation. The gentleman pictured in our submission to the Committee is called Abdul, and he is from Nigeria. He has been playing Gaelic games for about eight years and has also started to referee. Tooling up GAA clubs to cope with language barriers and people of differing cultures and customs is a challenge that we are trying to address through our ongoing education programme.[65]

92. Language can also be an issue in relation to promotional material advertising opportunities for sport and physical activity. Literature may not be translated or provided directly to ethnic minority community groups.[66]

93. Craigavon Borough Council identified the fact that people from ethnic minorities may have different work patterns and may wish to take part in physical activity at ‘non-traditional times’ such as late evenings and Sundays when local facilities may be shut.[67]

94. As with all the other groups mentioned above, a lack of role models can also prove a deterrent to participation. The existence of racism in sport, both institutional and at an individual level can also act as a barrier.[68]

Men

95. While men are not identified as a group with lower levels of participation than average, the inquiry found that there are a number of barriers specific to men taking part in sport and physical activity.

96. Evidence provided by the Public Health Agency suggests that men aged 30-50 tend to be too busy with work and family to make room for physical activity. Men may also be under the impression that only ‘gruelling and uncomfortable’ forms of physical activity are worthwhile. Other men view their own health as a low priority and therefore are not motivated to participation in physical activity for the health benefits.[69]

97. Information obtained from the Finnish Government also pointed to some of the barriers encountered by males in terms of participation. The Committee was informed that the Finnish Government had identified men over 40 with children as having lower levels of participation:

In Finland, the Ministry of Education’s Sports Division identified men in their mid- 40s with children as having a lower than average level of participation in sport and physical activity. In Finland there is a tendency that women are active in individual sporting activity such as jogging, swimming, running and Nordic walking, whereas men in Finland remained physically passive. The discussions with Mr Tolonen found that due to cultural expectations, men took the main role in the care of children during their leisure time while they were not at work.[70]

Chapter 4 — Solutions

98. In this chapter a range of solutions are set out for both increasing levels of physical activity across the adult population as a whole, and among specific groups with lower levels of participation. These solutions are based on the evidence presented to the Committee, including examples of good practice from other countries and regions.

The need for a cross departmental approach

Involvement of all departments and leadership from the Executive

99. In the foreword to Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation 2009-2019[71] the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure states that its implementation will require a joined up approach across government departments and other stakeholders. This key point was echoed by many organisations who submitted evidence to the inquiry including Sport NI:

The Sport Matters strategy proposes the creation of a strategic monitoring group, which would be chaired by the Minister and would involve senior representatives from all Departments. A key issue is to get physical activity and participation placed on the agenda of all Departments rather than residing solely with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The resources, ideas, controls and influence are not all in one Department; rather, they exist across a series of Departments.[72]

100. The WCRP, Craigavon Borough Council, NILGA, the Big Lottery Fund and the BMA were also in favour of a cross-departmental approach. The BMA provided a number of examples as to how other government departments have a role to play:

However, at the outset, we want to say that tackling levels of physical inactivity requires a cross-departmental and cross-sectoral approach, and we encourage government Departments to play their role . . . At government level, all Departments have a role to play in planning and working with education providers and the health and leisure industries. Indeed, they have a role in planning future housing, parks, road services and transport policies. All of those need to be integrated in order to impact on people and change their behaviour.[73]

101. Similarly, Ulster GAA stated that there are seven government departments which have an impact on the delivery of sport and physical activity, and provided a detailed assessment of the roles of the various departments:

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has to be the lead Department since it is directly responsible for sport and physical recreation. Its responsibility includes the role of Sport NI, which, as part of its remit, deals with the governing bodies through the Northern Ireland Sports Forum. The Department for Social Development is responsible for regeneration, social exclusion and a number of other areas.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is the single biggest beneficiary of the work of sporting bodies, because, if more people participate in sport, that should ultimately engender a healthier society. If that is achieved, the Health Department will be a significant beneficiary. The Department of Education has several roles to play, because, as Eugene said, sport, in curriculum, is part of the future development of any positive education programme. I also feel that that the Department has access to the single biggest estate outside that controlled by local authorities and governing bodies, and its facilities are significant.

The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister also has a responsibility, because it sets policy on equality in several areas, including equality for people with disabilities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. OFMDFM has a responsibility in the delivery of a shared future.

The Department for Employment and Learning has a role to play. That might seem strange, but it is responsible for delivering part of the safety at sports grounds legislation, because the training requirements for stewards, supervisors and safety officers will have to include qualifications. Those requirements are being set at NVQ level 2 for stewards, NVQ level 3 for supervisors and NVQ level 4, which is currently unavailable, for safety officers. The Department for Employment and Learning will also have a programme running under SkillsActive, which could be exceptionally helpful in developing local community volunteers and recognising their accreditation.

The Department of the Environment has a significant role, because it is responsible for the reorganisation of public administration and for local government. Therefore, it is responsible for the provision of facilities by local government and the provision of sport within the remit of local authorities. All of that is essential to building a wider sporting consciousness and building facilities for the playing of sport.[74]

102. Delegates at the stakeholder focus group event also argued that a joined up approach is needed:

Cohesion is required among government departments, especially between DCAL, DHSSPS, DETI, DENI, DRD, DARD and DOE. Support the introduction of a single body with a remit for addressing the health-living/physical activity nexus as a whole, or the introduction of an interdepartmental forum to develop policy intervention.[75]

103. In his evidence to the inquiry, the Minister recognised the importance of the cross-departmental approach to increasing participation levels. He also made the point that other departments need to be prepared to contribute resources to this end:

However, it is important for central government and the Northern Ireland Assembly to set the example. If the Executive are to fulfil their commitments to sport and physical recreation in Sport Matters and deliver the wider benefits, Ministers and Departments need to look imaginatively at ways of supporting each other practically and financially.[76]

104. In terms of what can be learned from other countries and regions the Committee looked to the evidence from Finland. Finland has been cited as the European model in dramatically increasing its population’s engagement in physical activity and participation in sport. In the mid- 1990s, Finland had the highest heart disease rate in the European Union, but the recently published ‘2010 Eurobarometer survey on EU citizens’ sport and physical activity habits’ found that 72% of Finns are taking regular weekly exercise.[77]

105. The evidence obtained from the audio conference with a Finnish Government official revealed that Finland had taken a cross-deparmental approach to increasing participation levels:

In Finland, a ‘Sport Law’ was established which indicated that the Ministry of Education is responsible for the promotion of sport at a government level through the establishment of the Sports Division within the Ministry of Education. Whilst Education promotes sports and physical activity, other ministries, such as the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry for Traffic deal with its facilitation. This varies from the construction of leisure centres to infra-structure development by way of roads and cycle routes.[78]

Role of the Programme for Government

106. Sport NI suggested that a tangible way to ensure buy-in from other departments would be to allocate them Public Service Agreements (PSAs) around physical activity in the next Programme for Government:

We suggest that including more PSAs in the next Programme for Government and sharing those among departments can make a difference and can enable people to see where they fit in and what role they have to play . . . I would love to see every department having a target on physical activity. There will be no accountability for delivering until we have that, then we can all ensure that there is joined-up working.[79]

107. Ulster GAA expressed a similar view in terms of advocating that sport and physical activity be further embedded in the next Programme for Government:

A cross-departmental approach is required because, although sport is within the remit of this Committee, some of the major involvements and benefits that emerge from sport relate to other Departments: for example; social cohesion, antisocial behaviour, health, education, equality and a number of issues in that area.

Whatever strategy emerges for sport should become the central policy for several departments that are dealing with the outworkings of those items, and sport should then be seen as an arm of delivery. Sport is not specifically referred to in the current Programme for Government, but it is included under several headings, because it is probably the most essential instrument for delivering better interactivity, a better sense of health and better physical preparedness for people to deal with modern society. All of the various issues in the Programme for Government could be dealt with by sport to some degree. We maintain that there are seven departments that have an impact on the delivery of sport.[80]

Role of DHSSPS

108. In addition to the general point that a range of government departments have a role in increasing participation levels, particular reference was made to the potential for the DHSSPS to impact in this area.

109. Sport NI made the point that DHSSPS could contribute both in terms of resources and in terms of promoting the health benefits of physical activity. On this latter issue Sport NI stated:

One of the key actions that is proposed in the Sport Matters strategy is that sport and physical activity should be seen as primary health interventions. Consequently, GP referral schemes, a number of which across Northern Ireland are successful, would become the norm and part of the prescribing book for every GP in Northern Ireland. People talk about barriers, but sometimes encouragement is all that is needed. A pill need not be taken to lose a bit of weight or to treat blood pressure. A walk would do.[81]

110. On the issue of budget, Sport NI referred to the investment made by the Department of Health in Scotland to promote physical activity in schools:

The Health Department in Scotland is spending £24 million over three years to set up and support an active schools network. The aims of that investment were to encourage young people to become motivated to have healthy and active lifestyles that would support their development into adulthood. There is a lot to be learned from that example of how investing in encouraging young people to be physically active can come from budgets and Departments outside those that deal with education and sport.[82]

111. Likewise, the Minister stated that DHSSPS had the potential to make a major contribution given the size of its budget as compared to that of DCAL:

People often talk about partnership and cross-departmental working, but that is of value only if one brings something to the table. DHSSPS can bring certain things to the table . . . 80% of our budget goes to arm’s-length bodies, but, even when it is all brought together, it makes up a very small part of government. The biggest return will be achieved by bringing in other Departments, particularly the Department of Education and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. If we get full buy-in there, we will start to see delivery.[83]

112. Based on the evidence, the Committee makes the following recommendations:

We recommend that the Executive prioritises the need to increase participation in sport and physical activity and accordingly provides the necessary funding to implement ‘Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation, 2009 – 2019’ in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

We recommend to the Executive that the next Programme for Government contains Public Service Agreements for all relevant government departments in relation to actions aimed at increasing participation in sport and physical activity.

We recommend that the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) invests more of its budget in preventative health measures which involve participation in physical activity, as a means of reducing obesity related illness and the associated financial cost to the health service over future years.

Sport and physical activity for children and young people – the need to begin early

113. One of the key messages which came through from the evidence was that the likelihood of an adult taking regular exercise was very much influenced by their experiences of sport and physical activity as a child. People who take part and enjoy exercise as a child tend to keep the habit into adulthood. This was mentioned by Fitness NI, delegates at the stakeholder conference and the BMA among others. The BMA put it very simply:

If an active lifestyle starts in early childhood, it is much easier to keep up.[84]

PE in schools

114. Many of those who gave evidence to the inquiry lamented the fact that in lots of schools children are not being given the opportunity to do 2 hours PE a week as per the government guidelines.

115. A recent survey conducted by Sport NI revealed that only 17% of primary schools are providing 2 hours of PE a week. Sport NI explained that while the Department of Education sets a target of 2 hours a week for schools, it does not have the power to set time standards for any particular subject – it is up to individual schools to devise their own timetables.[85]

116. Delegates at the stakeholder focus group event were also concerned about the level and type of PE being offered at schools:

The PE curriculum should be re-examined to ensure adequate levels of activity take place in schools and that the activities available encourage inclusive participation.

Physical Education in schools should become more varied, with a greater focus on non-competitive activities.[86]

117. Likewise, Sport NI suggested that PE does not need to be competitive, as did the BMA who made the point that in some cases enjoyment is missing from the traditional concept of PE:

Education, in the classical sense, is very important, and that goes back to the interdepartmental aspect of the issue. It is about motivating children to exercise and getting them used to it. I was struck by a paper from Finland, where they have the concept of a joyful model of sports schools teaching for 4- to 13-year-olds. I asked myself how joyful my sports education at that age was. It was not; a tiny minority of us rushed about and had great fun, but most did not.[87]

118. The importance of PE as the foundation for physical activity in adulthood was emphasised by the Scottish Health & Sport Committee in its Report on Pathways into Sport and Physical Activity.[88] The news release accompanying the publication of the report stated:

There has been a lamentable failure to deliver the target set in 2004 for two hours’ quality physical education for every school pupil, according to a report published today by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

In its Report on Pathways into Sport and Physical Activity, the committee recognises PE as the only comprehensive way of ensuring that all children and young people have the skills to lead a physically active life. It is highly critical of education authorities and HM Inspectorate of Education for failing to give PE the same status as other curricular subjects.[89]

119. A research paper commissioned by the Committee made similar points in relation to the provision of PE in schools in the EU:

120. In Finland the government has recognised the importance of school based PE and acted accordingly. Information obtained from the audio conference with the Finnish government official revealed that Finland has made it mandatory for all children up to the end of their compulsory education to have 2 hours of physical activity per week.

121. Currently the Finnish government is trying to increase the amount to 3 hours per week and increase physical activity in before and after-school clubs. They are also looking into a minimum of two hours per day of different physical activities for 12 year olds and under and one hour per day minimum for children in second level education. This is hoped to be achieved by having physical activity incorporated into other subjects taught in schools other than PE.[91]

Clubs/schools links

122. During the inquiry the Committee was informed that when young people leave school there is often a drop-off in terms of their participation in sport and physical activity. The Committee was encouraged by the work sporting organisations are currently doing to help young people stay active as they make the transition from school to higher education or work.

123. For example, Ulster Rugby provided the Committee with a practical example of how it had adapted its structures to encourage more young people to stay in the game once they left the school environment:

This year, we have specifically identified an under-19 league. We researched the situation and discovered that there was a problem with progression from under-18 rugby to adult rugby because the under-18 rugby was played on a Saturday morning and there was no engagement with the adult population of the clubs. When the under-18 players moved across, they felt that they were not welcome, and they had not transcended that. We have developed a league that will straddle that divide and play its games on a Saturday afternoon. In that way, the players will become part of the club environment and, by the time they move into adult rugby, will know the people with whom they are playing.[92]

124. The IFA also provided evidence of work it is doing with schools, in particular with young girls at primary schools, to encourage them to become involved in football:

Interestingly, the biggest area of growth has been in primary schools, much of which has been down to the soccer role models courses that the women’s department runs. In those courses, senior players from the international side go into primary schools and coach children. The courses are not just about football; there are positive health messages about staying involved in football, and there is a role-model aspect, hence the name. Women’s participation has probably been our fastest area of growth over the past 10 years.[93]

125. Likewise, Ulster GAA was of the view that it is crucial to keep young people involved in sport and physical activity during their latter teenage years, and that they should be required to continue with PE until they leave school:

Young people are only required to take part in PE until they are 16, but I think that they should be required to participate in some sort of activity, such as keep fit, until they are 18. That is one of our recommendations.

Young people start to drop out of physical education at 16, 17 and 18. They are out the door, and they are not really as interested in sport as they once were. Therefore, the structured environment of formal education provides an opportunity to ensure that young people continue to take part in physical education until they leave school, and perhaps, once they get older, they will want to continue with that.[94]

126. The Committee welcomed the fact that greater integration of schools and clubs is one of the goals of Sport Matters and that there are specific targets to establish 20 School Club Partnerships and to appoint 40 Club Support Officers across Northern Ireland.

Lifelong participation in sport and physical activity

127. The Committee welcomes the vision set out in Sport Matters:The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation 2009-2019[95] which is “a culture of lifelong enjoyment and success in sport”. Sport Matters identified both physical literacy and lifelong physical activity as the ingredients for increasing participation levels.

128. The Committee was particularly impressed with the work being carried out by Ulster GAA in terms of providing participation opportunities for people from “the cradle to the grave”. Ulster GAA informed the Committee that they had developed a model which recognised that people can move through different stages of involvement in sport through the different stages of their lives:

The model that we are working on reflects how people who are involved with Gaelic games can move quickly from participation to performance and then to excellence. Once they have finished at the excellence level, they can move back down to performance and participation.[96]

129. The GAA has developed programmes to keep adults involved in the sport once their more “competitive” years are over:

Over the past three or four years, we have been developing a recreational Gaelic games programme for men over 40 who can operate between or within clubs. As I said earlier, the challenge is the fear of injury. We have tried to get around that by adjusting the rules to make the sport non-contact — one-touch or two-touch football.

Accessibility of programmes and facilities is crucial for female uptake and reference is made in our presentation to Gaelic 4 Mothers, Gaelic 4 Girls, Chicks with Sticks and Hens with Hurls for the over-40s. Those initiatives form the female-friendly approaches to Gaelic football and camogie.[97]

130. The Committee also welcomed the way in which the the GAA is using its facilities in an imaginative way to encourage lifelong participation in physical activity, not necessarily in gaelic games, among those involved with the clubs:

Many of our clubs now have walking tracks around their perimeters, which is a simple way to encourage female participation, particularly in rural areas, where the club’s floodlights provide a safe environment for females to exercise. That is a very simple way of how clubs use their facilities to ensure lifelong female participation away from the games themselves.[98]

131. The Committee was of the view that the GAA is a model of good practice in terms of providing opportunities for lifelong participation and would encourage other governing bodies to follow suit.

132. Based on the evidence, the Committee makes the following recommendations:

We recommend that the Department of Education is more pro-active in terms of assisting schools to meet the target of providing 2 hours of Physical Education (PE) per week. We recommend that the Department of Education makes it an urgent priority for primary schools to meet this target.

We recommend that governing bodies of sport review how they can work more closely with schools to ensure that structures are in place to encourage young people to continue participating in sport and physical activity once they leave formal education.

We recommend that sport governing bodies put in place structures to facilitate lifelong participation in sport and physical activity for their members. The Committee points to the good work being done in this area by the GAA as a model of best practice.

Facilities

133. It is recognised that having access to high quality facilities is key to increasing participation in sport and physical activity. Indeed “Places” is one of the three key strands of Sport Matters along with “Participation” and “Performance”.

134. Local government authorities are one of the key providers of leisure facilities. In its evidence to the inquiry, Sport NI emphaised how the community planning function envisaged under the Review of Public Administration (RPA) should be used by local councils to increase particiaption:

Well-being is so linked to physical activity that it would be totally inappropriate if community plans did not involve elements to make the community more active.

Sport NI feels that the way to get local authorities to take the issue seriously is to ensure that physical activity has a statutory requirement in community plans. I am not saying that they do not take it seriously, but, if it is made a statutory requirement, those authorities will have to plan for and deliver on it.[99]

135. However, given the uncertainty around timescales for the implementation of the RPA, the Committee was of the view that local councils should conduct an audit of the facilities currently available in their area with the aim of maximising their use to promote increased levels of participation.

136. The inquiry also pointed to the fact that government departments have substantial areas of land under their control which could potentially be used for sport and physical recreation purposes. Sport NI made the following point on this issue:

We also look at the huge amount of publicly owned land, and we propose that it should be open for people to engage in physical activity.

As you quite rightly said, some of the activities do not involve a lot of money. For example, the public estate in Northern Ireland is controlled by many different Departments, and there is an opportunity to open that estate up for physical activity, which would cost very little. There would be some management costs, but it would provide a great deal of opportunities.[100]

137. Likewise, Sport Matters identifies the need to:

Review and update relevant public policy frameworks to enable access to, and sustainable use of, publicly-owned land in NI for sport, physical recreation and activity tourism.[101]

138. On the question of maximising publicly owned land and facilities, a number of organisations stressed the potential of the school estate to be opened for community use. Sport Matters refers to the “Six Acre Standard” which is a bench mark for the provision of outdoor sport and play areas. The standard proposes that there should be four acres for structured outdoor sports and two acres for outdoor play/green spaces per 1000 head of population. Northern Ireland currently achieves 53% of the standard, however, by making available all existing education facilities, this figure would increase to 81%.

139. Delegates at the stakeholder focus group event suggested that opening up the school estate was one of the key solutions for increasing participation. The Ulster GAA made the following point on the matter:

To have facilities lying empty from 5.00 pm when two or three local clubs are struggling to find facilities for any type of participation is — I will not say scandalous, but it must certainly be looked at very seriously.[102]

140. The Big Lottery Fund provided the Committee with an example of a successful programme it had run which provides schools with enhanced PE facilities on the condition that they are also made available for community use:

I will speak about the New Opportunities for PE and Sport programme.

Except for the smallest projects, wider community benefit and use are an essential part of grant schemes in the PE and sport programme. There were 136 projects funded through that programme, which included the provision of purpose-built early years play areas with equipment, storerooms, changing facilities, large multi-use games areas and larger sports halls. The facilities will support a wide range of games, including soccer, basketball, rugby and Gaelic games. The projects aim to increase the amount of time available for physical activity and the participation of all pupils before, during and after school.

Many schools are booked out in the evenings and at weekends, and some even have a waiting list for the use of their facilities by the wider community.

In the design of that programme, we were very specific that, in all but the smallest projects, there had to be community use of those schools as part of the requirement for the delivery of each of those projects. That was an important way of illustrating the emphasis on making sure that the school estate was open where possible.[103]

141. Facilities for sport and physical activity do not just include leisure centres, sports halls and pitches. They also include the outdoor environment of cycleways and walkways. These sorts of facilities are particularly important for those people who prefer to take part in informal physical activity and do not wish to be part of a sporting club. Delegates at the stakeholder conference stated that there needs to be improvement in cycling and walkways. The Big Lottery Fund referred to the funding it had provided in this respect:

For individuals who may prefer not to get involved in group activity, our environmental programmes have funded a much broader range of physical facilities, such as walking and cycling routes. At the largest scale, the Connswater Community Greenway was a huge investment in east Belfast, and that project will provide bridges and cycle routes.[104]

142. Sport NI also talked about the need for more dedicated cycle paths, and also for cycle lanes to be designed in such a way that they are not situated on or lead to sections of busy roads:

We need more schemes such as the greenway that was mentioned to take cycle tracks into the heart of local communities, rather than providing spurs that link to main roads. Those result in children getting to main roads and suddenly being confronted with several hundred cars whizzing past at 50, 60 or 70 mph.[105]

143. The Committee also discussed the fact that many of the National Cycle Network routes, while on what would be described as quiet country roads, are roads nonethless where the national speed limit applies. There are concerns that motorists are not aware that the road forms part of the National Cycle Network and therefore are not on the alert to look out for cyclists and adjust their driving accordingly. Therefore, the Committee was of the view that the Department for Regional Development should address this issue by reducing speed limits on these roads and/or providing warning signage for motorists.

144. The Committee was of the view that all facilities should be maximised in terms of the opportunities for participation in both sport and physical activity, and were particuarly keen on the idea of multi-use facilities. For example, as cited in paragraph 130 the Ulster GAA informed the Committee that it had realised that the perimeter of pitches could be used as a safe walking tracks.

145. Similarly, in terms of ensuring that a range of people feel comfortable using leisure centre facilities – men, women, families, older people and so on – the Committee was of the view that local councils should review their provision of changing facilities, particularly at swimming pools. The Committee recognises that unisex changing areas are helpful for facilitating family outings, but are cognisant that not all users would feel comfortable in such an environment. It would therefore encourage local councils to look at providing single sex changing facilties as well.

146. Based on the evidence, the Committee recommends:

We recommend that local government authorities conduct an audit of the sport/physical activity facilities currently in their area and develop plans to maximise their use, as well as identifying any gaps in current provision.

We recommend that all government departments and their agencies maximise the use of land and properties under their control for participation in sport and physical activity. This includes provision of safe bicycle parking facilities.

We recommend that the Department of Education makes school facilities more available to local communities at evenings, weekends and during school holidays.

We recommend that DRD and local government authorities continue to develop safe walk and cycle paths to encourage more people to take part in informal physical activity and to encourage active travel.

We recommend that DRD reduce the speed limits on roads which form part of the National Cycle Network and/or increase signage for motorists in the interests of safety.

We recommend that sport governing bodies maximise the facilities under their control to encourage complementary physical activity participation opportunities. For example, the Committee welcomes the creation of flood-lit walkways around sports pitches which provide a safe walking environment.

We recommend that local government authorities review changing facilities provision at leisure centres with a view to accommodating both single sex and family changing areas.

Funding for sports bodies

147. A range of organisations were of the view that there needed to be an equitable balance of funding between elite sport and participation. This view was put forward by delegates at the stakeholder conference and also by the BMA who stated:

One of the practical areas to look at is sport. We acknowledge that there is a place for elite sport and the hero worship of the local team. However, a blind eye is turned to everyone sitting on their bottoms on the terraces and elsewhere. They do not move unless someone scores.[106]

148. Sports governing bodies themselves recognised that increasing participation rates would have a positive knock-on effect for their sport in a multitude of ways – raising the sport’s profile, providing a greater pool of players for national/international competitions, and more community support.

149. Ulster Rugby stated that it would like government to set it participation targets in return for the funding it receives:

We would like to be set targets by the Assembly to at least double participation and to be held accountable for the long-term sustainability of that. We want joint targets, for which we are responsible; long-term funding for revenue and capital; and long-term accountability for the delivery of a result.[107]

150. The Commitee therefore recommends:

We recommend that Sport NI sets targets for sport governing bodies to increase their participation rates as part of grant funding packages.

Holistic health messages

151. Many of those who presented evidence to the inquiry suggested that programmes and policies should combine physical activity with healthy eating messages. Sport NI explained the connection in the following terms:

Being active is part of a healthy lifestyle. One aspect of that is the energy that is outside the equation of physical activity, and the other is the energy that is inside the energy equation, which is the amount and the nature of what we eat.[108]

152. The Big Lottery Fund backed up the message that programmes that cover physical activity and diet can be very successful, as well as being cost effective:

We often see that we work best on interdepartmental agendas and in relation to public health and the ways in which the Investing for Health strategy links with participation.[109]

153. Likewise Sport NI described how its Activ8 Eatwell campaign which is being provided in partnership with the Foods Standards Agency provides good value for government money:

We support that and are delighted with the recent success we had with the Food Standards Agency. The agency was working out how to get a healthy eating message into schools, when it realised Sport NI was already in there preaching a get physically active message. The agency asked to piggyback on that and brought some of its own resources, so we doubled the impact with a reduced resource.[110]

154. A number of sporting governing bodies are also involved in promoting healthy eating messages alongside the need for participation. For example, the Ulster GAA informed the Committee about a nubmer of its campaigns:

Drink, Drugs and Sausage Rolls is a health-related programme that supports participation in our games. We try to drive a health message along with the activity that we promote. In a similar vein, we have a healthy-eating programme for primary schools that supports the physical literacy aspect of some of our work.[111]

155. The IFA described how its role models programme in primary schools addressed a range of health issues:

The courses are not just about football; there are positive health messages about staying involved in football, and there is a role-model aspect, hence the name.[112]

156. Damien Crowne, a fitness trainer who submitted evidence to the inquiry made a similar point:

We need to educate the child on two specific areas, basic fitness and basic nutrition. We will bring the gym to the school and educate each individual on the importance of exercise and sensibile eating. By doing this you are not just training them physically, you are preparing and educating them for life after school. This basic education programme on these two crucial areas will stay with them throughout their school life and beyond.[113]

157. The Committee therefore recommends:

We recommend that Sport NI continues to work with other partners to promote programmes which combine physical activity with healthy eating.

Advertising/social marketing

158. One of the solutions promoted by witnesses for tackling physical inactivity was a government led advertising or social marketing campaign. Witnesses were of the view that the public needed to be educated about how much physical activity is actually needed for health benefits and information about what constitutes physical activity itself.

159. For example, the view was expressed by delegates at the stakeholder conference that some people associated exercise exclusively with sport, whereas physical activity can include a range of home, leisure, work and travel based activities. Delegates also suggested that non – mainstream physical activities such as boxercise, dancing and kick-boxing should be highlighted in the media. Furthermore, advertising campaigns should use attainable and accessible role models, and the message should emphasise the enjoyment and social element of physical activity in addition to the health benefits.[114]

160. Sport NI referred to the manner in which the Finnish Government had used social marketing to drive up participation rates by influencing the culture and values of the population:

In Finland, 64% of the population achieves three bouts of moderate activity per week, which is astounding. A number of decisions were made by the Finnish Government, one of which was to have a dedicated and high-level commitment to increasing levels of participation, with significant investment and a massive public awareness campaign to support it.

The significance of the Finnish model is that the community was convinced by government-funded social marketing that a physically active lifestyle was beneficial. People listened, believed and responded. Large sums of money are involved. We do not have the resources to deliver a social marketing campaign of that scale.[115]

161. Information obtained from the audio conference with the Finnish Government official backed up this finding:

In Finland, the government sought to increase the physical activity levels of this group through the advertising campaign ‘Fit for Life’, which has continually been promoted over the last 10-15 years. Through close co-operation between the Finnish authorities and media, the government encouraged its population to use their free time in the pusuit of leisure activities. Working closely with the Finnish Sport Federation and other sporting organisations, the government promoted the ‘Fit for Life’ campaign through the National Broadcasting Corporation, the internet and newspapers. ‘Fit for Life’ encouraged all the population of society to get active and stay active for life. Weekly newspapers, alongside sports results featured ideas to encourage readers to get active.[116]

162. In terms of the content of the message, the BMA took the position that it needed to be simple, and it needed to show people that physical activity could easily become part of their everyday routines:

We must keep it simple. When people think of exercise, they think of gym memberships, going to the leisure centre and having to drive half an hour to get there. That is not what I mean. I am talking about going for a walk when you get back from work in the evening; nothing more complicated.[117]

163. Belfast Healthy Cities also descibed how such a campign would need to be carefully thought out, because it was about changing people’s perceptions and aspirations and not just about providing them with basic information:

Campaigns aimed at ‘rebranding’ a specific issue, based on views of target group on what would encourage participation. Social marketing differs from health education in that it is based on market research and aims to change perceptions rather than sharing information.[118]

164. Based on the evidence presented, the Committee therefore recommends:

We recommend that the Executive provides funding on an ongoing basis for advertising campaigns to promote the health benefits of participation in sport and physical activity. Such campaigns should be targeted at the population as a whole and focus on simple messages as to how people can build either/both organised sporting activity and informal physical activity into their everyday lives.

Role of employers

165. Given that many adults spend the majority of their day either at the workplace or travelling to and from it, it is evident that employers have the potential to increase their employees’ participation levels through a range of measures.

166. The BMA made the point that employers must be pro-active in terms of designing a workplace environment that encourages staff to walk or cycle to work, thereby incorporating exercise into their everyday lives:

As regards employers and workplaces; the Health Service is the biggest employer in Northern Ireland. However, its priority has not really shifted towards encouraging staff to take adequate exercise or to cycle or walk to work. In order for staff to do those things there must be environmental changes to buildings, such as provision of showers, so that people who come to work by bicycle can shower and change their clothes if they wish. Therefore, many things must be integrated in order to encourage people at employment level.[119]

167. DRD, in its written evidence to the inquiry stated that the Promotion of Physical Activity Advisory Group which is part of the Obesity Prevention Steering Group set up in 2008 has the aim of providing support to employers in the development of policies, programmes and initiatives which promote less sedentary behaviour and more physical activity.[120] The Committee welcomes this initiative as it believes employers have a key role in driving up participation levels.

168. The evidence from Finland points to the innovative ways in which employers can enable staff to participate in sport and physical activity:

Tax-free vouchers are issued by employers which entitles employees to use them in cultural, sporting or physical activities. In Finland this arrangement has became successful, as not only do employees gain an incentive to become less physically passive, employers gain a healthier workforce. Private companies also collaborate with a variety of leisure centres which offer a wide range of activities and buy ‘time’ which can be used by their employees at a reduced rate.

In addition, workplaces, as a result of these partnership arrangements with leisure centres in the use of tax-free vouchers have in recent years seen an increase in the creation of company sport teams which have gone on to play against other companies in newly formed leagues.[121]

169. One of the specific solutions preferred by delegates at the stakeholder focus group conference was:

Increasing the number of employer led activity sessions, whether within the workplace or outside it, with the public sector leading the way.[122]

170. Sport Matters also flags up the role for employers, identifying a key step for enabling lifelong participation is the encouragement of employers to provide opportunities for active lifestyles.

171. Based on the evidence, the Committee recommends:

We recommend that public and private sector employers pro-actively encourage employees to participate in sport and physical activity as part of a wider focus on work/life balance.

We recommend that DETI provides advice to employers as to how they can collaborate with sport/leisure service providers regarding the provision of participation opportunities for employees.

We recommend that DETI provides advice to employers as to how they can facilitate more active travel to work, for example through the provision of bicycle storage and changing facilities.

Physical activity for the family

172. Information obtained from Finland explains how the government specifically focused on how to increase participation among adults who had a child caring role. In Finland they addressed this issue by promoting physical activity as something for all the family to do together as a unit:

Rather than looking to solve this issue in isolation by providing more childcare provision in leisure centres, at ski slopes or in the community sector, the government sought to promote activity for all the family. The Finnish Government’s major policy change from the mid-1990s was that physical activities or participation in sports should be carried out as a family unit rather than children, youth, adults, males or females participating independently.[123]

173. Ulster GAA also provided examples of how it attempts to cater for the entire family, whether playing gaelic games or providing the opportunity for people to take exercise by walking around the pitches. Like the Finnish example, Ulster GAA recognised that this approach can overcome the need for providing childcare facilities:

An important factor for females is to have accessibility to whatever is going on the pitch, and, for example, if a woman is playing on one pitch and her six-year old is playing on the other, that eliminates the need for childminding facilities. The GAA community has examined ways of endorsing that family organisation and through some of its active living programmes, such as its well women and cancer prevention clinics, it incentivises participation and provides a social outlet for females.[124]

174. Based on the evidence, the Committee recommends:

We recommend that Sport NI, local authorities, other public sector funders and sports governing bodies fund programmes which provide opportunities for families to participate as a unit in sport and physical activity.

Increasing participation among specific groups

175. The Committee took evidence from a range of organisations which are providing participation opportunities for groups with a lower level of participation - women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities.

176. For example, the WCRP is currently providing a 5-year programme to improve the physical and mental health of women from disadvantaged areas. It is specifically tailored to meet the women’s needs – they are consulted on what types of physical activities they wish to participate in, and childcare is provided on-site.[125]

177. Sport NI also informed the Committee of a number of programmes it has funded which are specifically aimed at women – “Mums in Motion” and “Fit for Life ladies” programmes”. Again, the women were asked for their views on the types of activities they were interested in and the childcare that was provided.[126]

178. In terms of the sports governing bodies, the Committee heard from the Ulster GAA about its various female centred programmes including “Chicks with Sticks” and “Gaelic 4 Women”, and likewise from the IFA about its Futsal programme which is run at times that suit women.[127] The Committee welcomes the fact that Sport Matters[128] includes a target for appointing 18 women’s sports development officers.

179. The Committee also heard about programmes being run for people with disabilities. Sport NI advised the Committee that it had funded an activity called bocce, an inclusive game that enables people with a disability and those without to play a bowls-type activity.[129] Similarly Ulster Rugby informed the Committee that it had been involved is providing a form of rugby for children with learning disabilities and is now working in six special schools to deliver that programme.[130] The Committee welcomes the fact that Sport Matters[131] includes a target for appointing 18 disability sports development officers.

180. In terms of projects for older people, the Committee noted the specific programmes being provided for both older men and older women by Craigavon Borough Council.[132]

181. Regarding participation opportunities for people living in disadvantaged areas, Sport NI recounted stories of young people who were at risk of offending who had become involved in the midnight soccer programme and had then gone on to return to education or employment.[133]

182. The Committee welcomes all these programmes. It was clear from the evidence presented that specific programmes are required to meet the needs to the different groups. A one size fits all approach is not suitable, but rather targeted policy interventions are required for specific sections of the population. This is backed up in a research paper commissioned by the Committee which stated:

Given the multiple barriers to participation and the manner in which these intersect between and within social groupings, policy interventions and/or promotional activities are likely to be more successful if they adopt a multivariate approach rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.[134]

183. Suggestions were put to the Committee for general measures which could be put in place to increase participation among the groups identified as having lower than average participation rates. In relation to women, delegates at the stakeholder focus group event suggested that child minding facilities should be provided at gyms and leisure centres. The Committee recognises that many local authority leisure centres currently do provide crèche facilities during certain periods of the day, but that there are limitations to what can be provided due to legislative and cost issues. However, the Committee would encourage local government authorities to review whether there are other ways they can encourage more people with childcare responsibilities to use their facilities – perhaps by providing family based activities, or scheduling classes for adults and children at the same time.

184. In terms of encouraging participation among people on lower incomes, the Committee was advised by Sport Scotland about the High Life Leisure Scheme which provided low cost access to leisure facilities in the Highlands, and has led to an increase in use of the facilities by 43% and an increase in income by 67% since 2001.[135]

185. Similarly, NILGA pointed to the fact that in England, by reducing the monthly rate for access to the fitness suite at a gym from £25/30 to £15/16, participation rates have increased.[136] The Committee is of the view that there is merit in local government authorities examining the initiatives which have been undertaken in other places to ascertain whether similar steps can be taken in Northern Ireland.

186. A number of organisations which submitted evidence referred to the need for staff based at leisure centres and other sports facilities to be better equipped to deal with the needs of women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities. This point was made by delegates at the stakeholder conference[137], the RNIB,[138] the WCRP[139] and Skills Active NI among others.[140] The Committee recognises that there is further work to be done in this area so that leisure facilities are welcoming and accessible places for all.

187. Based on the evidence, the Committee makes the following recommendations:

We recommend the expansion of specific programmes aimed at increasing participation among women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities.

We recommend that local government authorities explore ways of encouraging more people with childcare responsibilities to use their leisure facilities.

We recommend that local government authorities explore ways of encouraging more people on lower incomes to use their leisure facilities.

We recommend that local authorities enhance training for staff at leisure centres on how to best provide services for women, people with disabilities, older people, people from low income groups, and people from ethnic minorities.

[1] Public Health Agency, Written evidence, Appendix 4

[2] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[3] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[4] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[5] Sport NI, Written evidence, Appendix 4 & BMA (NI), Written evidence, Appendix 4

[6] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[7] BMA (NI), Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[8] Sport NI, Oral evidence, Appendix 2 & Belfast Healthy Cities, Written evidence, Appendix 4

[9] BMA (NI), Additional information, Appendix 11

[10] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[11] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[12] www.euractiv.com/en/sports/eu-sports-participation-news-392543

[13] www.euractiv.com/en/sports/eu-sports-participation-news-392543

[14] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[15] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[16] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[17] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[18] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[19] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[20] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[21] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[22] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[23] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[24] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[25] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[26] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[27] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[28] Schools research paper, Appendix 9

[29] Schools research paper, Appendix 9

[30] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[31] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[32] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[33] Damian Crowne, Written evidence, Appendix 4

[34] Research paper 4, Appendix 7

[35] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[36] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[37] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[38] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[39] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[40] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[41] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[42] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[43] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[44] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[45] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[46] Public Health Agency, Written evidence, Appendix 4

[47] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[48] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[49] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[50] Research Paper 2, Appendix 7

[51] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[52] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[53] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[54] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[55] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[56] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[57] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[58] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[59] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[60] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[61] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[62] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[63] Research paper 3, Appendix 7

[64] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[65] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[66] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[67] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[68] Research paper 2, Appendix 7

[69] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[70] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[71] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[72] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[73] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[74] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[75] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[76] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[77] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[78] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[79] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[80] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[81] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[82] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[83] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[84] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[85] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[86] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[87] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[88] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/committees/hs/inquiries/pathwaysintosport/index.htm

[89] http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/nmCentre/news/news-comm-09/cHandS09-s3-002.htm

[90] Research paper 3, Appendix 7

[91] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[92] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[93] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[94] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[95] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[96] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[97] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[98] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[99] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[100] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[101] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[102] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[103] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[104] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[105] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[106] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[107] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[108] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[109] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[110] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[111] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[112] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[113] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[114] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[115] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[116] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[117] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[118] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[119] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[120] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[121] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[122] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[123] Audio conference, Appendix 9

[124] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[125] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[126] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[127] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[128] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[129] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[130] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[131] http://www.dcalni.gov.uk/sport_matters.pdf

[132] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[133] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[134] Research paper 3, Appendix 7

[135] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[136] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[137] Stakeholder conference paper, Appendix 9

[138] Written evidence, Appendix 4

[139] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

[140] Oral evidence, Appendix 2

Appendix 1

Minutes of Proceedings
of the Committee Relating
to the Report

Thursday 10 December 2009
Room 21, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Francie Brolly MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: None

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Ashleigh Mitford (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.38 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

3. Discussion on forward work programme January to March 2010

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it would proceed with an inquiry into participation levels in sport/physical activity.

1.00 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

[EXTRACT]

Thursday 7 January 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings, Stormont

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.36 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

5. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity

The Committee noted the Research and Library Services paper on participation in sport and physical activity.

The Committee considered the draft terms of reference.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk would amend the draft terms of reference for further consideration at the next meeting.

11.40 a.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

[EXTRACT]

Thursday 14 January 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

5. Committee’s Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Agreed: The Committee agreed the revised Terms of Reference and title for the Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed the Public Notice requesting written submissions to the Inquiry.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to the list of organizations prepared by Research and Library Services which it would write to requesting written submissions.

The Committee noted the correspondence from NI Sports Forum indicating its willingness to contribute to the inquiry.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to seek written submissions from all Departments, Assembly Statutory Committees, the Coalition on Sexual Orientation, the Rural Community Network, the Rural Development Council, the Ulster Farmers Union, the NI Agricultural Producers Association and walking organizations.

The Committee noted the outline plan for the Inquiry.

12.10 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 28 January 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.34 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

8. Committee’s Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in NI

Agreed: The Committee agreed to host a stakeholder focus groups event on 25 March 2010 in Parliament Buildings as part of the evidence gathering process for the inquiry, and to provide lunch for the participants.

The Committee discussed various options regarding an event to launch the inquiry.

The Committee noted the Personal Heath & Fitness brochure forwarded by Damian Crowne.

12.55 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 4 February 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.38 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

7. Committee Inquiry into participation in sport and physical in Northern Ireland

Agreed: The Committee agreed to reschedule the presentation from Assembly Research Services to 11 February 2010.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a paper from Assembly Research Services on sports participation in schools.

The Committee noted correspondence from Sport NI regarding its Sport and Physical Activity Survey.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite Sport NI to present evidence to the inquiry on 18 February 2010.

1.05 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 11 February 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Billy Leonard MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)
Mr Aidan Stennett (Research Officer)

10.07 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

1. Apologies

The apologies are noted above.

5. Committee’s inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee received a briefing from Mr Aidan Stennett, Assembly Research Officer on “Barriers to Sport and Physical Activity Participation” and “The Role of Education”. This was followed by a question and answer session.

12.40 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 18 February 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Mrs Elaine Farrell (Assistant Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

5. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the revised outline plan for the inquiry.

The Committee noted the list of groups which have provided submissions to the inquiry to date and the memo from the Clerk on suggestions regarding which organisations should be invited to present oral evidence.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Skills Active NI, the British Medical Association, the Big Lottery Fund, NILGA and the Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network, should be called to give oral evidence to the inquiry through the format of a meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to invite the Gaelic Athletic Association, Ulster Rugby and the Irish Football Association to give oral evidence into the inquiry.

The Committee noted the Assembly Research paper on European Union perspectives on sport and physical activity.

The Committee noted Sport NI’s written submission and tabled papers to the inquiry.

11.10a.m Mr Clarke joined the meeting.

The following representatives from Sport NI joined the meeting:

Mr Nick Harkness, Director, Participation and Facilities

Mr John News, Participation Manager

Mr Paul Donnelly, Policy Planning and Researcher

The representatives briefed the Committee.

11.50a.m Mr McCartney joined the meeting.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

12.44 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 25 February 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Dominic Bradley MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

4. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the Assembly research paper on suggestions for organisations to take part in the stakeholder conference scheduled for 25 March 2010.

12.01p.m Mr P J Bradley left the meeting.

Agreed: Members agreed to add a motorsport group, a dance group and an angling group to the proposed list of organisations.

The Committee noted the analysis of written submissions into the inquiry.

The Committee noted the outline plan for the inquiry.

12.31 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 4 March 2010
Conference Room, Somme Hertiage Centre,
Conlig, County Down

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.43 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

4. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the written submission from The Big Lottery Fund.

The following representatives from The Big Lottery Fund joined the meeting:

Ms Joanne McDowell, Head of Policy Development and Public Affairs

Ms Norrie Breslin, Senior Policy and Development Officer

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to The Big Lottery Fund for clarification on a number of issues.

11.43a.m Ms McIlveen left the meeting.

The Committee noted the written submission from the British Medical Association NI.

The following representatives from the British Medical Association NI joined the meeting:

Ms Gráinne Magee, Assembly and Research Officer

Dr Theo Nugent, GP/BMA NI General Practitioners Committee

Dr Vinod Tohani, Public Health Consultant

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the British Medical Association NI for clarification on a number of issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to all departments to ask if they and the bodies which come under their remit operate the Bike to Work Scheme.

12.31p.m Mr P J Bradley left the meeting.

12.50 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 11 March 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.39 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

4. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the written submission from The Women’s Centre for Regional Partnership.

The following representatives from The Women’s Centre for Regional Partnership joined the meeting:

Ms Louise Coyle, Policy Officer, NI Women’s Rural Network.

Ms Tiziania O’Hara, Women’s Centre Regional Partnership Co-ordinator

Ms Geraldine Compton, Co-ordinator of Waterside Women’s Centre

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The representatives agreed to forward further information on a number of issues.

The Committee noted the written submission from Skills Active NI.

The following representatives from the Skills Active NI joined the meeting:

Ms Siobhan Weir, NI Manager

Mr Gerry Kelly, CEO NI Sport & Leisure Member

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The representatives agreed to forward further information on a number of issues.

The Committee noted the written submission from NILGA.

The following representatives from the NILGA joined the meeting:

Mr Jim Rose, Director of Leisure Services, Lisburn City Council

Mr Philip Faithfull, Chief Executive, Strabane District Council

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Members were advised that a video conference evidence session with representatives from the Republic of Ireland and from Finland has been scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday 23 March 2010.

12.59 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 18 March 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Dominic Bradley MLA
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m. The meeting opened in public session.

5. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

Agreed: The Committee agreed to issue the draft press release to publicise the evidence sessions with the three governing bodies.

The Committee noted the written submissions from the Public Health Agency, the Department for Employment and Learning, and the Department of Education.

The Committee noted the written submission from the Irish Football Association.

The following representatives from the Irish Football Association joined the meeting:

Mr Michael Boyd, Head of Community Relations

Mr Colin Coats, NI International & Captain of Crusaders FC

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Agreed: The representatives agreed to forward further information on a number of issues.

7. Forward Work Programme

The Committee noted the Forward Work Programme.

Members were advised that a video conferencing session on the inquiry is scheduled with representatives from the Republic of Ireland and Finland on Tuesday 23 March 2010 at Stormont Castle.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the session would be covered by Hansard.

Members were advised that a video conference session on the inquiry will be scheduled with representatives from Scotland after Easter recess.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the session would be covered by Hansard.

10.30 a.m. Members were advised that a stakeholder conference to gather evidence for the inquiry will take place on Thursday 25 March 2010 in the Long Gallery.

8. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the written submission from the Ulster GAA.

The following representatives from Ulster GAA joined the meeting:

Mr Danny Murphy, Provincial Director

Dr Eugene Young, Director of Coaching and Games Development

Ms Aileen Tohill, Health and Wellbeing Manager

Ryan Feeney, Head of Community Development

The representatives briefed the Committee.

12.00 p.m. Ms McIlveen left the meeting.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

12.25 p.m. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

12.55 p.m. The Chairperson reconvened the meeting, with Lord Browne, Mr McCartney, Mr McCarthy and Mr McNarry present.

The Committee noted the tabled written submission from Ulster Rugby.

The following representatives from Ulster Rugby joined the meeting:

Mr Shane Logan, Chief Executive

Mr David Boyd, Ulster Branch Domestic Rugby Manager

Mr David Humphreys, Operations Director

The representatives briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

2.15 p.m. The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 15 April 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)
Mr Aidan Stennett (Research Officer)

10.33 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

5. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee noted the timetable for the completion of the inquiry.

The Committee noted further information provided by the BMA, The Big Lottery Fund, the IFA, the Women’s Centre for Regional Partnership and Skills Active.

10.57 a.m Mr McCartney joined the meeting.

The Minister and the following officials joined the meeting:

The Minister and officials briefed the Committee.

This was followed by a question and answer session.

Mr Aidan Stennett of Assembly Research Services made a presentation to the Committee on the findings from the Stakeholder Event held in the Long Gallery on 25 March 2010 and from Research Services’ discussions with school groups.

12.10 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 22 April 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr PJ Bradley MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

6. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity

The Committee noted the responses from the departments in relation to the bike to work scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to DRD requesting that the Committee be informed of the completion date of its pilot scheme and that it receives a copy of its findings.

The Committee noted the Assembly research paper on the GP referral scheme.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Minister for Health to seek further information on the GP referral scheme.

12.54 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(EXTRACT)

Thursday 29 April 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Ms Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in public session.

4. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity

The Committee noted the Sport NI survey of timetabled PE in primary schools in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to write to the Committee for Education on the matter.

12.16 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(Extract)

Thursday 13 May 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA

Apologies: Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)
Mr Aidan Stennett (Assembly Researcher)

10.37 a.m The meeting opened in closed session.

2. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee agreed to the proposed approach as outlined in the Clerk’s memo.

The Committee noted the membership of the Sport Matters Monitoring Group provided by the Department.

11.54 a.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(Extract)

Thursday 20 May 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr PJ Bradley MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in closed session.

2. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee considered draft recommendations for the report.

10.40 a.m Mr Robinson joined the meeting.

10.41 a.m Mr McCartney joined the meeting.

10.41 a.m Mr McClarty left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk would amend the draft recommendations for further consideration at the meeting on 27 May 2010.

The Committee noted the correspondence from the Committee for Education regarding the Sport NI survey of timetabled PE in schools, and the responses from DHSSPS and OFMdFM regarding the Bike to Work Scheme.

12.46 p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(Extract)

Thursday 27 May 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)
Ms Angela Kelly (Legal Advisor)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in closed session.

4. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee considered the revised draft recommendations.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that the Clerk would amend the draft recommendations for further consideration at the meeting on 3 June 2010.

The Committee noted a tabled email from NILGA in relation to concessionary rates and crèche facilities in local council leisure centres.

12.35p.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting

(Extract)

Thursday 3 June 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings

Present: Mr P J Bradley MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.35 a.m The meeting opened in closed session.

2. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity

The Committee considered the draft recommendations.

12.25 p.m The Deputy Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

(Extract)

Thursday 1 July 2010
Room 21, Parliament Buildings
Un-Approved

Present: Mr Barry McElduff MLA (Chairperson)
Mr Declan O’Loan MLA (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Thomas Burns MLA
Mr Trevor Clarke MLA
Mr Billy Leonard MLA
Mr David McClarty MLA
Mr Kieran McCarthy MLA
Mr Raymond McCartney MLA
Ms Michelle McIlveen MLA
Mr Ken Robinson MLA

Apologies: Lord Browne MLA
Mr Thomas Burns MLA

In attendance: Dr Kathryn Bell (Clerk)
Miss Emma Patton (Assistant Clerk)
Mr Jonathan Lamont (Clerical Supervisor)
Mr Christopher Baird (Clerical Officer)

10.03 a.m The meeting opened in public session

The meeting moved into closed session.

11. Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

The Committee considered the draft report of the inquiry into participant in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.

The Committee agreed the front cover.

The Committee agreed the Membership and Powers.

The Committee agreed the Table of Contents.

The Committee agreed the Executive Summary.

The Committee agreed the List of recommendations.

The Committee agreed the Introduction - paragraphs 1 to 14 of the report.

The Committee agreed Chapter 1 - paragraphs 15 to 32 of the report.

The Committee agreed Chapter 2 - paragraphs 33 to 48 of the report.

The Committee agreed Chapter 3 - paragraphs 49 to 97 of the report.

The Committee agreed Chapter 4 - paragraphs 98 to 187 of the report.

Question put and agreed:

‘That the Report be the fourth report of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee to the Assembly’

The Committee agreed that the draft report should go to print.

The Committee agreed the wording of the motion.

11.50 a.m The Chairperson adjourned the meeting

(EXTRACT)

Appendix 2

Minutes of Evidence

18 February 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley
Mr P J Bradley
Lord Browne
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Billy Leonard
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Mr Paul Donnelly
Mr Nick Harkness
Mr John News

Sport Northern Ireland

1. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I invite representatives from Sport NI to give evidence to the inquiry. I welcome formally Nick Harkness, John News and Paul Donnelly. I ask Nick to introduce his team, to explain their respective jobs and to brief the Committee. Afterwards, I will invite members to ask questions. It is over to you, Nick.

2. Mr Nick Harkness (Sport Northern Ireland): I thank the Chairman and the Committee for inviting us to give evidence to the inquiry into participation in physical activity. Obviously, that is a big challenge that faces everyone in Northern Ireland, the UK, Ireland and further afield. Current figures show that only 59% of the UK population are active enough to reap health benefits from their level of activity. We appreciate that the Committee, in its inquiry on the subject, values the views of Sport NI.

3. Obviously, the timing of the Committee’s inquiry is appropriate, given that Sport Northern Ireland will work with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) in the coming months in the preparation of a bid for the comprehensive spending review. We are delighted that Assembly Members’ awareness of issues that relate to participation in physical activity and its importance will be raised in the run-up to the comprehensive spending review.

4. In addition, Sport Northern Ireland has worked with DCAL and has commissioned a piece of bespoke research into adult sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland. We have received some of its early headline findings. We expect the final report to be published in the next six months or so.

5. By way of introduction, I look after participation and facilities in Sport Northern Ireland. John News is our participation manager, and Paul Donnelly is our policy, planning and research manager.

6. Between us, we will cover four key areas. We will provide a little information on the strategic context of sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland, update you on some of the scientific evidence on the nature and extent of adult participation, and provide some examples of the contribution that Sport NI makes directly and indirectly to address participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland. In summary, I will give you some examples from programmes and personal stories of what actually works, and I will suggest priorities for action that the Committee might consider in its investigation.

7. I want to draw members’ attention to a quotation that Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), made in 2005. His remarks are pertinent to the subject of the Committee’s investigation. He said that:

“The scientific evidence is compelling. Physical activity not only contributes to well-being, but is also essential for good health.”

8. He continued:

“There are few public health initiatives that have greater potential for improving health and well-being than increasing activity levels.”

9. I think that that gives substance to the importance of the work that you are embarking on.

10. However, there must be some caution. Obviously, Sport Northern Ireland, the Department, and the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure are important players in the area. However, it is such a multi-faceted area that it cannot be limited to the work of Sport Northern Ireland or sporting bodies. It is a multi-departmental, multi-sectoral and multi-organisational issue. It is about changing cultures and improving physical activity.

11. An example that reflects that is Finland, which, during the 1970s, was regarded as the sick man of Europe. It identified the need for cultural change to improve physical activity levels and help the state of the nation’s health. The Finns came up with five key principles in their interventions to turn the situation around. They focused investment on physical activity and participation in sport. They clearly took a long-term, rather than a short-term, view of how interventions might work. They commissioned and engaged heavily in social marketing to change the culture, values and aspirations of the population. They targeted their investment at known success stories and at interventions that they knew would happen, and they created an environment that promoted physically active lifestyles.

12. Members will be aware that the Executive approved the strategy for sport recently. The vision of the strategy is the creation of a culture of lifelong enjoyment and success in sport. The three key pillars of the strategy are participation, performance and places.

13. The Finnish example illustrates how it is possible to create cultural change. The 26 targets and actions proposed in the strategy for sport detail how a cultural change can be achieved in Northern Ireland, and they provide a road map for creating physically active lifestyles in our population.

14. I should have mentioned another example of how to change culture. That example is much closer to home and demonstrates the cross-cutting nature of the matter. The Health Department in Scotland is spending £24 million over three years to set up and support an active schools network. The aims of that investment were to encourage young people to become motivated to have healthy and active lifestyles that would support their development into adulthood. There is a lot to be learned from that example of how investing in encouraging young people to be physically active can come from budgets and Departments outside those that deal with education and sport.

15. There are 26 targets in the sports strategy, 14 of which focus on improving participation. In summary, those targets refer to a robust research framework, and I have described the work that we are doing with the adult participation survey. Specific targets and actions are proposed in the strategy for all adults, children and young people, people with disabilities, women and people who live in socially disadvantaged communities.

16. We make proposals in the strategy on sport and physical activity for young people, and, although the Committee’s investigation is on adult participation, we propose that such interventions for children and young people are about starting the activity habit early so that people will carry it into their adult lives.

17. We also propose interventions on access to quality places for sport. Those refer to planning legislation and the need for a physically active environment instead of an obesogenic one. We also propose interventions that look at opportunities for outdoor recreation, for which Northern Ireland is particularly suited. We also look at the huge amount of publicly owned land, and we propose that it should be open for people to engage in physical activity.

18. My presentation includes a graph that gives information taken from the General Household Survey. That graph details participation in sport and physical activity in the past 12 months. The Committee should be aware that, for participation to have a positive impact on health, the Chief Medical Officer recommends that an adult should take 30 minutes of moderate physical activity fives times a week. I understand that some Committee members are making steps in that direction.

19. Mr McCarthy: I cannot wait. Is that not right, Dominic? [Laughter.]

20. Mr Harkness: Significant evidence illustrates the reason for the drop in physical activity. Members will see that in 1999-2000, 59% of the adult population participated in sport once a year, and that dropped by 14% to 45% in 2008-09. Therefore, activity levels are declining. Some of the reasons offered for that decline are evidence based and relate to the sedentary nature of many jobs, the increased use of the car and less reliance on active travel, and the evolving age of technology, which has particularly attracted the attentions of our young people. Another reason for the decline is our ageing population, which is inclined to be less active. In the strategy for sport, we proposed the establishment of a focus group to deal with that issue.

21. Being active is part of a healthy lifestyle. One aspect of that is the energy that is outside the equation of physical activity, and the other is the energy that is inside the energy equation, which is the amount and the nature of what we eat. Sport Northern Ireland is already working in partnership with the Food Standards Agency to address that. Many members will be aware of the work that Sport Northern Ireland is doing with young people in primary schools through the Activ8 Eatwell campaign. That campaign is about helping young people to establish good habits that will carry them through their adult lives.

22. Paul Donnelly, who is the policy planning and research officer for Sport Northern Ireland, will go into a little bit more detail about the facts and figures on the issue.

23. Mr Paul Donnelly (Sport Northern Ireland): I will cover three main issues in my contribution to today’s evidence session. First, I wish to highlight the social and economic benefits of physical activity. Secondly, I will highlight some information on the nature and extent of participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland. Nick has covered some important contextual information on the contribution that sport and physical activity make to improving public health and the quality of life of all citizens in Northern Ireland. Thirdly, I wish to outline some scientific evidence that the Committee should be aware of and that is important to the inquiry.

24. A significant body of literature exists that highlights the social and economic benefits of enhancing physical activity for health. However, the consequences of physical inactivity are increasingly becoming a global problem for this and future generations. At a UK level, the Foresight programme reported that obesity levels have doubled in the past 25 years. It also predicts that the obesity level in the adult population will rise to 60% by 2050. It predicts that obesity will cost the UK Governments around £10 billion per annum if obesity levels are not addressed in the short, medium and long term. From an NI perspective, that direct cost could equate to about £250 million a year. Given our current difficult economic pressures, particularly where public spending is concerned, that is certainly not a nice figure to hear. However, those figures are by no means surprising. Thirty-two per cent of the UK population meet the CMO’s physical activity recommendations, which is five 30-minute bouts of moderate to intense physical activity a week. At a Northern Ireland level, that picture is no different. Fifty-nine per cent of adults are either overweight or obese, and 30% of adults are achieving the CMO’s recommendations. About 2,000 deaths a year can be attributed to physical inactivity.

25. Members may also wish to know that Sport NI has commissioned an independent piece of work that will produce a report outlining the contribution that sport and physical activity make to public health outcomes. That should be available to the Committee at the end of March 2010.

26. I now wish to address the evidence on participation data from the continuous household survey (CHS) for 2007-08. It indicates that 49% of the population claim to have participated at some level in the past 12 months. I am sure that many of us in this room have participated in physical activity more than once in the past 12 months. That is a not discrete measure of participation; rather, it is an indication of participation. As Nick outlined, participation has essentially declined in the past number of years.

27. In 2006-07, the actual baseline that was set for the comprehensive spending review and the public service agreement (PSA) framework was 53%. The level of participation using that indicator has declined by four percentage points in the past number of years. The survey also highlights the growing disparities in participation that exist in Northern Ireland. The data that other UK Governments have generated confirm the fact that those are common themes throughout the UK.

28. I will now address the specific disparities that exist. Men tend to participate more than women, people with disabilities tend to participate less than those without disabilities, older people tend to participate less than their younger counterparts, and people from lower socio-economic groups tend to participate less than those from higher socio-economic groups. In developing the Sport Matters strategy with the Department, we have recognised those participation-orientated challenges.

29. As Nick highlighted, a number of high-level targets are associated with trying to address that situation. One particular target relates to the need for a robust research and evaluation framework. In recent months, we have worked with the Department to commission a large-scale bespoke adult participation survey that looks specifically at participation in sport and physical activity.

30. That piece of research is still at the fieldwork stage. We expect to have the full and final report available to us in October or November 2010. In essence, we believe that it will provide us with more robust data so that we can formulate and develop policy from a Sport NI point of view and help others to formulate and develop policies at a more local level.

31. The survey is the largest that has been commissioned since 1994. It will provide statistically robust data on participation rates, information on club membership, volunteering and coaching in sport, as well as information on many other lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption and fruit and vegetable consumption.

32. We developed a new research instrument because we felt that the CHS did not provide the data that we needed to formulate and implement policy. The sport and physical activity survey (SAPAS) will provide us and this Committee in particular with the information that is needed to get the full picture of what happens with sport.

33. Mr John News (Sport Northern Ireland): Members have heard a lot of facts and figures today, all of which are important. Mr Donnelly said that the issue is to get those facts and figures so that policy can be informed and a difference can be made to people. If the Committee will indulge me, I will spend the next few minutes talking about some of the projects and programmes that have been happening on the ground over the past five or six years. I will also discuss the difference that the investments that have come from the Assembly, the Executive and the Department through Sport NI have made to people’s lives across Northern Ireland.

34. Increasing participation has been a big policy driver for the Sport Matters strategy and for Sport NI since its inception. Our two core purposes are to increase participation and to improve sporting performances. In particular, since the Millennium Fund was introduced back in 1999-2000, there has been a huge emphasis in Sport NI on trying to increase participation among under-represented groups. That manifested itself in a number of investment programmes over that period. The first obvious one goes back to the previous Assembly, when Executive programme funds of £600,000 were approved for a pilot programme. At that stage, that money was approved to develop a model that would work and that would produce measurable benefits to people on the ground.

35. The Executive programme funds paid for six projects across Northern Ireland, including schemes in Disability Sport and Age Concern and in places such as the Moyle District Council area. However, the real benefit was that we established a monitoring and evaluation framework, which was a way of measuring the difference that participation made to people’s lives. That has persisted in all our investment programmes since. A project that bears that out was the community sport programme from 2005-08, which was a partnership venture between us and the Big Lottery Fund. Over those three years, £2·4million was invested, and about 40,000 participants were involved in the programme.

36. The programme was about improving participation and encouraging those who had sedentary lifestyles to have more physically active and healthier lifestyles. The Sport in Our Community programme has been shaped very much by the learning from the community sport programme. Sport NI is investing £4 million from its own funding streams in the period 2006-2010. The programme finishes at the end of March this year. Over the course of the programme, 113,000 participants will have been involved.

37. The only reason why I threw in those two figures is because over the past five or six years, we have been able to demonstrate that we have become much more efficient and effective at involving people in sport and physical activity programmes. When the community sport programme hit the ground, we evaluated the figures. At that stage, it cost about £60 a person to involve a participant in the programme. By the end of the Sport in Our Community programme, that cost was down to about £32 for each participant. The system is much more efficient because those structures now exist across Northern Ireland in community and voluntary organisations, district councils and sports clubs.

38. Our new Active Communities investment programme is due to come on stream in April, and the target has been set to get 425,000 participants involved in that programme over the next five years. Over the same period, £13·5 million will be invested, and again, the same aim exists of driving down the cost of delivering more participants.

39. However, I have been talking about programmes, which are not real projects on the ground. A number of evaluation reports have been completed over the past four or five years that talk about projects that serve members’ communities and constituents. I will briefly describe a couple of those.

40. Mums in Motion was a post-natal intervention programme in the upper Springfield area of Belfast involving 10 community centres from right across the city. It is recognised that there is a drop in participation in sports after children are born. Whenever a busy lifestyle becomes hectic, people have less time for themselves. They also face the additional problems of getting childcare and crèche facilities and finding the personal space to get out and be active.

41. Mums in Motion was an intervention that was aimed at involving young mothers and new mothers with young children by providing crèche facilities at community centres and by putting on activities in which the mums wanted to get involved. For those of us who are involved in competitive sport or field sports, it is great to have a football pitch or leisure centre, but the mums told us and Belfast City Council that salsacise, yoga, aerobics and boxercise were the sort of activities that we needed to organise and that they wanted to be involved in. The 40 young mums who took part in that programme in 2005 have continued their activities since.

42. The Step Up exercise referral programme involving Derry City Council in partnership with the Old Library Trust had 100 clients over 12 weeks, during which participants received personal training in council leisure centres and community centres across the city. As well as receiving personal training in how to use gym equipment and in the right type of exercise to do, they got personal development coaching. They were given information about how to improve and to take control of their lives and about how to make better decisions for them and their families.

43. Sport NI ran a Fit for Life ladies’ programme with Larne Borough Council to engage women of all ages in exercise, but with the slightly different slant of including a social dimension. Many of the participants were older women, some of whom were in the house on their own. They found that being involved in exercise, sport and physical activity programmes provided an outlet and an opportunity for them to come together. They do their yoga, aerobics, t’ai chi or whatever, but afterwards they have a cup of tea and a scone or a biscuit and a chat and they find out what else is happening down the street or in the community next door. That programme gave them a degree of social interaction.

44. We have had quite a number of very successful disability sports projects. At some point, the Committee may hear from Disability Sports NI. An activity called bocce has been one of our most successful disability sports projects. For those who are not familiar with it, bocce is an inclusive game that enables people with a disability and those without to participate in a bowls-type activity.

45. Bocce in Northern Ireland grew out of a training programme that we ran for 15 community sports development officers in the original community sport programme. During that programme, we did some inclusive games training with Disability Sports NI. The game was picked up independently by the community sport programmes in Castlereagh Borough Council and Craigavon Borough Council. Both councils realised that, because we are all naturally competitive and want to play against somebody else, at the end of their 12-week programmes, it would be good to come together and have a competition. Initially, those two councils got together, after which other councils started bocce leagues. The likes of Ards Borough Council then got involved, and bocce has now sprung up on the Strangford peninsula. Places such as Cookstown and Dungannon then got involved, and, before we knew it, we had a Northern Ireland bocce league, which brings together disability sports groups from across Northern Ireland.

46. Sometimes people wonder about the connection between participation and performance in sport. As a result of its involvement, Disability Sports NI has been working with us to get a recognised government body for bocce in Northern Ireland, and, in conjunction with the University of Ulster at Jordanstown and Belfast City Council, we are bidding for Northern Ireland to host the 2011 world bocce championships. We are in the running with Portugal, and we hope to know the outcome in the next few months.

47. That is the story of how what started as a community sports programme for 12 people in Castlereagh grew to be something that has an impact across Northern Ireland. I could go on. There are projects such as that that is run by Down Clubmark Sport Association, which works with the East Down Gaels to involve children with learning disabilities. Your inquiry is about adult participation, but as I said, to involve young people, the focus must be on giving them a solid foundation so that they become active adults in the future.

48. Two personal stories bring the benefits of participating in sport to life for me. Georgina, Flockey and Declan were involved in programmes that we have supported for a number of years. Georgina attended one of our physical activity programmes. She presented with ongoing and persistent mental health problems that led to her confining herself to her home. She elected not to leave the house, she had very little interaction with others, and she had attendant weight-management problems. She became one of the 59% of the population who are overweight or obese. As a result of getting involved in the bocce programme, which, initially, lasted for five or six weeks, she decided that she would like to become a coach. Rather than depending on someone else, she thought that maybe she could be the coach and leader of the bocce group. Therefore, she was trained to be the coach. Subsequently, she undertook a range of other coaching and training programmes, including for golf and archery, and she now talks about how sport gets her out of the house and has become a new outlet for her.

49. Flockey and Declan have similar stories to tell about how sport has changed their lives. They are two young men who were on the margins of society, were at risk of offending and had been referred by residents associations in the area. They were seen as “problem children”. At the age of 16 or 17, they were on the verge of entering the formal custodial system, costing tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum. They have since become involved in midnight street soccer programmes, initially as participants and subsequently as volunteers. They gained coaching qualifications, and one of them has gone back into full-time adult education.

50. Those programmes have made a difference to people’s lives, and we envisage Sport Matters providing a way to make a difference to everybody’s life in Northern Ireland. As Nick said, Sport Matters incorporates 26 high-level targets, but I shall draw members’ attention to 10 factors in the projects that would make a day-to-day difference to people. Three factors are at policy level. First, we need clear and accountable leadership from the Executive. We, and the projects with which we have worked, welcome the fact that the Executive have now approved Sport Matters, although we need more integrated, cross-sectoral and cross-departmental planning. This is an issue for health and education as well as for sport, social development, planning and other sectors. We suggest that including more PSAs in the next Programme for Government and sharing those among Departments can make a difference and can enable people to see where they fit in and what role they have to play. We needed a number of specific actions, such as more coaches being deployed in health and education. If we are to use sport and physical activity as a primary health-improvement tool, we need coaches who understand what it is to work in a health setting. We have given the Committee other suggestions, but I will not read through them all.

51. Paul mentioned a document that we will publish on the impact of sport on public health. The Committee can have copies of that by the end of March. I will read two or three quotations from participants who have been involved in programmes over the past four or five years. One said:

“I am a person with a physical disability. The opportunity to take part in physical activities up until now was very limited but, as a result of this programme, I feel better about myself and more confident in myself.”

52. This is what a mother who was involved in the programme said:

“I used to sit at home all the time. Now I enjoy going to the gym and taking my children. My daughter was obese as well and now we are both losing weight because of the exercise, and we eat better as well.”

53. A programme for taxi drivers in Creggan and Waterside in Derry gave them access to healthier lifestyles. One taxi driver said that they can now bend down enough to tie their shoelaces. However, the most telling quotation came from one taxi driver, who said:

“Physical activity has acted a relief. It is a distraction from some of the everyday problems, and we have fun. That is why we do it.”

54. The Chairperson: Thank you for your presentation.

55. Mr Harkness: I realise that time is pressing, so I will give you a quick summary. Evidence exists about the social, health, economic and personal impacts of participation in sport and physical activity. However, there is also overwhelming evidence about the declining nature and extent of participation. Any action for the future needs to be collaborative and needs to involve long-term planning. There are no short-term fixes, and some of the examples that John referred to show that there are viable and sustainable delivery models that will enable increased participation in physical activity.

56. To date, we have only been scratching the surface. I can see the elephant in the room, which is that we have so much money, and, given the money that we have spent over the years, why has participation decreased? We are only scratching the surface; we really need to extend the programmes. We can consider the matter to be complex or simple, but we need to invest more in physical activity. Three things are essential. First, we need to use social marketing to convince people to be active. Secondly, we need places and facilities for people to be active in, and thirdly, we need people to take the lead on physical activity. We need a competent and available workforce that enables and supports people who want to be physically active.

57. The Chairperson: I thank the team. How big a factor is social deprivation, including low income, in preventing people from taking part in sport and physical activity? John mentioned some of the projects, which are very welcome. However, what specific actions is Sport NI taking to address the hurdles and barriers that prevent people who are from socially deprived areas, or who are on low incomes, from actively taking part in sport and physical activity?

58. I am glad to have the Sport Matters document in my possession. Until now, we have been working largely from a draft strategy. We know that it has come through the Executive, but will it be launched publicly, or has it been officially launched?

59. Mr Harkness: Information that members have shows the disparities that exist in participation levels. There is a 17% gap between levels of participation of people who live in socially disadvantaged versus participation levels in more well-off areas. Therefore, you are undoubtedly right to say that a gap exists. Through our Active Communities programme, we have invested around £13 million over the next five years to encourage district councils to take some of the targets of the strategy, one of which relates to areas of high social need, and to invite the new group of 11 councils to propose actions.

60. Each of those actions will be specific to an area and will be developed in consultation with the local community on what will make a difference to that community. The difficulties and the barriers are diverse, as are the communities, so bespoke solutions, rather than one simple solution, are needed to address the needs of communities.

61. Mr News: Undoubtedly, there is a correlation between social need and participation. Under the Active Communities programme, we identified models of how money could best get into areas of social need. Therefore, social need was one of the main factors in the councils’ allocation of that money.

62. We also took into account the fact that large parts of Northern Ireland have a rural hinterland. One often thinks of areas of high social need as being large urban areas, and, undoubtedly, there are issues in those areas. However, need can also refer to access to services. The Active Communities programme used an allocation model that took into account not only targeting social need criteria but the geographical area. We did not want places with large rural hinterlands such as Omagh, Fermanagh and Strabane to be disadvantaged because the wards with the highest levels of social need, as it is traditionally measured, are in urban settings.

63. Mr Harkness: We are working on a print-ready version of the strategy. It is currently at the design stage.

64. The Chairperson: Six members have indicated that they wish to speak. Ken will speak first, followed by Dominic, Kieran, Trevor, Billy and Wallace.

65. Mr K Robinson: Thank you for your presentation and your enthusiasm. It is obvious that you are wedded to the scheme with which you are involved.

66. What role do the Departments other than DCAL have in increasing participation rates, and what do those Departments need to do? You started to venture down that path. Your organisation and other Government branches operate worthy schemes that sometimes complement each other, but it puzzles me that sometimes they do not complement each other and simply fizzle out. How do you build schemes in the community?

67. You gave lots of examples, so I will give an example. In the 1970s, I lived in the former West Germany, which, at that time, had the highest rate of heart disease in Europe. The whole nation undertook a scheme called “trim dich”, which encouraged everyone to get involved in some sort of activity. It benefited from the merits of German organisation. The main thrust of that scheme was for families, who would go out for a walk through the woods. They would meet a tree trunk that had steps cut into it, and the children and the adults would make a game of going up and down those steps. Further along, they would meet another tree trunk that was intended for people to press against. There was a series of such activities, all of which were fun and involved families. That scheme was backed by a government campaign and a local government campaign.

68. Could we learn from that to introduce something that is more cost-effective than some of the schemes and the extension of those schemes that you mentioned and that cost £60 or £35 a head? Can something simple be introduced that would change the approach of individuals, family groups and smaller groups in communities and provide a thrust for the whole community to improve its health much more cost-effectively than some of your schemes?

69. Mr Harkness: Yes, we are working with the Department of Health, Social Service and Public Safety (DHSSPS) on an obesity strategy. I chair the physical activity committee of that strategy, which will put physical activity on the agenda. Hopefully, the strategy will come before the Assembly at some stage with some far-reaching recommendations, including one for a social marketing campaign similar to the one that you referred to in Germany, where people needed to be convinced of the need for exercise.

70. People also need places where they can be active. Some people have a chosen activity that involves a ball and a pitch, and for others an activity may involve a piece of parkland and a bicycle or a pair of walking shoes.The challenge for us all is to work across Departments, government and organisations to put all those measures in place.

71. As you quite rightly said, some of the activities do not involve a lot of money. For example, the public estate in Northern Ireland is controlled by many different Departments, and there is an opportunity to open that estate up for physical activity, which would cost very little. There would be some management costs, but it would provide a great deal of opportunities.

72. The Sport Matters strategy proposes the creation of a strategic monitoring group, which would be chaired by the Minister and would involve senior representatives from all Departments. A key issue is to get physical activity and participation placed on the agenda of all Departments rather than residing solely with the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The resources, ideas, controls and influence are not all in one Department; rather, they exist across a series of Departments.

73. The Department of the Environment has a responsibility for implementing the review of public administration (RPA) and developing a framework for community planning, and Sport NI feel that physical activity and participation in sport should be a compulsory element in that. Well-being is so linked to physical activity that it would be totally inappropriate if community plans did not involve elements to make the community more active. I do not know whether that answers your question.

74. Mr K Robinson: It does. Before you came in, we were teasing out the role of local government and we talked about how the Committee missed just how important it is, and can be, in driving such schemes forward.

75. Mr Harkness: Sport NI feels that the way to get local authorities to take the issue seriously is to ensure that physical activity has a statutory requirement in community plans. I am not saying that they do not take it seriously, but, if it is made a statutory requirement, those authorities will have to plan for and deliver on it. That is our ambition.

76. Mr K Robinson: Sometimes those schemes are locked away in buildings or little localities. They must be more exposed to the general public. That would mean that people would be aware of them and feel that they are missing something by not participating in them. It will also make their profile much higher and wider.

77. Mr Harkness: Sport NI has created an Active Places website, which maps all the places that people can go to in Northern Ireland to be physically active. Those maps are geographic information system (GIS) compatible, so people can type in where they live and what their sporting interests are, and the website will tell them where they can go. It also provides telephone numbers and information on how to get involved.

78. Mr K Robinson: Do not forget that there are people who are not involved in any sport, but who want to be physically active. Sport NI must fit them in also.

79. Mr Harkness: Absolutely. The Countryside Access and Activities Network has also developed a database. Sport NI hopes to merge that database with ours to include outdoor activities, pathways and other such activities.

80. Mr K Robinson: I was particularly interested in John’s comment about the Fit for Life ladies’ programme in Larne. However, I see that you have spoiled it all by going for a cup of tea and a bun at the end of it. [Laughter.] However, do not worry; the Chairman spoiled it by going for a big heavy meal after those members who were taking part in Sport Relief had finished their exercise.

81. Mr Harkness: It was only a small bun.

82. The Chairperson: It has to be fun too. You have to be allowed to eat a scone in the middle of it all.

83. Mr Harkness: That was the energy-in part of the equation.

84. Mr D Bradley: Good morning. I also thank the witnesses for the presentation. You could say that the work of Sport NI is all about health. It is about physical health, mental health, general well-being and social engagement. Indeed, you said that you have commissioned a piece of work on the impact of physical activity on health, which is to be published soon. Is the promotion of the participation in sport, recreation and physical activity sufficiently embedded in the work of the various health agencies from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety right through to GP surgeries? Quite often GPs recommend that a patient does more exercise, but the advice ends there. Should there be more specific signposts, directions, support and help to get people to do some form of physical activity?

85. Mr News: That picks up on one of Ken’s points. One of the key actions that is proposed in the Sport Matters strategy is that sport and physical activity should be seen as primary health interventions. Consequently, GP referral schemes, a number of which across Northern Ireland are successful, would become the norm and part of the prescribing book for every GP in Northern Ireland. People talk about barriers, but sometimes encouragement is all that is needed. A pill need not be taken to lose a bit of weight or to treat blood pressure. A walk would do. That might be a walk along a towpath or in the Mournes. Alternatively, a cycle around a town would be beneficial. More people are recognising that message, and it is part of the UK-level social marketing campaign supporting Change 4 Life, but that is more evident in broadcasts on English channels. The Department of Health has been considering extending that to Northern Ireland broadcasters, but it is a social marketing campaign linked to a health message.

86. I did not talk about every one of those programmes, nor did I list all of the partners involved. I spoke for too long as it was. I could have spoken for an hour about all the partners. When it is published at the end of March, the public health impact report will list all the partners who are involved. Many of those programmes have had district councils and community voluntary organisations as key partners. Many Northern Ireland health and social care trusts have also been involved in providing programme funding to roll out some activities, such as the food, relaxation, exercise, self-esteem and health (FRESH) programme in greater Belfast and Lisburn, which is funded by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust. Therefore, although there are examples of partnership working, we must see more of it, because it ties in with social marketing. Everyone has a responsibility to achieve that.

87. Mr Harkness: An early recommendation that has emerged from the anti-obesity work is that there should be more “joined-upness” in those health promotion messages. We support that and are delighted with the recent success we had with the Food Standards Agency. The agency was working out how to get a healthy eating message into schools, when it realised Sport NI was already in there preaching a get physically active message. The agency asked to piggyback on that and brought some of its own resources, so we doubled the impact with a reduced resource. It is critical to get public health messages more tied together.

88. Mr D Bradley: Does Sport NI have any formal mechanisms to engage with the Department of Health to promote your message of greater participation?

89. Mr Harkness: Our main engagement in that area is through our contribution to the Department’s anti-obesity work. The strategy that will be brought to the Assembly will relate to the physical activity message, so the short answer is that yes, we are.

90. The Chairperson: Was the working group or interdepartmental working mentioned earlier?

91. Mr Harkness: Yes, that is correct. The obesity prevention steering group (OPSG) is supported by four work streams, one of which is on physical activity. I chair that working group, which will make recommendations to inform the anti-obesity strategy.

92. Mr News: The Public Health Agency (PHA) is also represented on Sport NI’s committees, which is another formal mechanism. We have a participation committee, and, about three years ago, the then Health Promotion Agency and Sport NI signed a joint charter on their approach to participation and encouraging physically active lifestyles. When the PHA came into being, we had an early meeting with its chief executive and senior management team. We are heartened that the commitment of PHA to work with Sport NI continues. Swine flu has recently been a huge priority for PHA, but we welcome the agency’s continued involvement in many of our commissioning processes in research as well as policy development.

93. Mr McCarthy: I have three questions. Ken Robinson referred to the first. Germany and Finland have been cited as examples, but are there any European countries that Sport NI could use as a service delivery model? Secondly, the graph in the submission must be disappointing. Is Sport NI hopeful that that trend can be turned around in the next five to 10 years? Thirdly, a lot of people who may not be involved sport are out walking or jogging, or, like me, are on a bicycle on the back roads. They are not monitored, but they would increase the figures. People do things on an ordinary voluntary basis to try to be healthy.

94. Mr Donnelly: I will cover the first and last questions, and Nick will cover the second one. Our submission states that two countries, namely Finland and Canada, are the benchmark for many of us. Over 25 to 30 years, they have turned around levels of participation significantly. In Finland, 64% of the population achieves three bouts of moderate activity per week, which is astounding. A number of decisions were made by the Finnish Government, one of which was to have a dedicated and high-level commitment to increasing levels of participation, with significant investment and a massive public awareness campaign to support it. Most importantly, they were given the time to do it.

95. Mr McCarthy: Does that not happen here currently?

96. Mr Donnelly: As Nick and John said, measures are being taken to address that issue. One such measure is the obesity prevention steering group and the work with which it is involved. However, that needs time, resource and a clear and concise message.

97. I did not provide any detail about SAPAS. Essentially, it is unique because it will provide us with participation data across four life domains. Many of us could talk about what sporting activities and physical recreation we undertook in the past seven days. However, how much time did we dedicate to physical activity in the home and work, and in respect of getting about? That instrument is able to pool all that information and give a true indication of the level of participation in Northern Ireland.

98. We considered more than 30 instruments throughout the UK, Europe and beyond. We believe that we have an instrument that best suits our needs and will help us to plan for the future. SAPAS will capture information about the people who walk or cycle on the back roads, or walk or cycle to and from work.

99. Mr McCarthy: When I am out on the back roads, is somebody is watching me? [Laughter.]

100. Mr Harkness: We are in a hedge with a clipboard. [Laughter.]

101. Mr Donnelly: SAPAS is a baseline study, so we need to get a picture of the current position. A sampling approach goes with that to ensure that we get a representative sample. We will pick up people such as you to see what they are doing. We hope to repeat that in three years if we have the resource.

102. Mr T Clarke: Maybe they will put you in a white van and straitjacket, Kieran. [Laughter.]

103. Mr Harkness: Kieran’s second point was about the graph and the disappointment. We are disappointed, but, as I said earlier in the presentation, we are scratching the surface. John illustrated some interventions that can and do make a difference. In the future, the Assembly, Executive and Government will have to ask whether they can afford to resource the strategy for sport, which is expected to cost something like £700 million over a 10-year period. Obviously, those are difficult questions.

104. The question that I would ask in reverse is whether we can afford not to do that. Earlier, Paul illustrated that the declining physical nature of our society could lead to a situation in which the cost of inactivity in Northern Ireland would be £250 million per annum. A strategy that is delivered fully, using properly targeted money that is in the system already, could cost £700 million over 10 years, so there is an economic argument.

105. Mr McCarthy: The invest to save strategy comes to mind.

106. Mr T Clarke: Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel if Finland and Canada have done so much work? Why do we not mirror what they have done rather than trying to reinvent a strategy? The graph shows a steady decline until 2005-06 and an increase in 2006-07. Is there any evidence to explain that increase?

107. Mr Donnelly: I completely agree with the first point. We do need to study the ingredients of success in Finland and Canada. There are fairly knowledgeable people in the Department of Health and in other Departments who are probably aware of what has happened in Finland and Canada. I would like to think that we will consider that as we move forward. The starting point is the obesity prevention steering group that has been established, which is representative of a range of Departments, agencies, practitioners, and so on.

108. Mr Harkness: We are bringing that knowledge to that group.

109. Mr T Clarke: I have a difficulty with that. From my recollection, Canada/America probably has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world. However, those countries seem to have the correct physical exercise strategies. Therefore, given that obesity and physical activity are not necessarily related, why are we targeting obesity?

110. Mr Harkness: There is good evidence that people who are overweight and physically active are much healthier than people who are overweight and not physically active. Therefore, even if exercise does not help people to manage their weight, it is still likely to result in better health.

111. Mr T Clarke: That is my point. You highlighted Finland and Canada as the market leaders in that area. If Canada/America has the highest rates of obesity, the programmes that they have in place —

112. Mr Donnelly: Rates of obesity in Canada are lower than in any other country. The situation is a bit different in the USA. On levels of obesity, around 28% of the US population achieves the same recommendations, and 2% is less than what we report. Levels of obesity are going through the roof. I am not sure whether that answers the question.

113. The Chairperson: It is perhaps a bit erroneous to add Canada to that example. The strategy in Canada is working; we could copy that.

114. Mr T Clarke: It is the same as everything that we do here: we try to come up with a solution ourselves, reinvent everything and invest so much in it. On other occasions, we mirror what other countries are doing. If they have a proven track record, why are we not already following their example or, if we have to do it differently, continuing to examine that? It seems to me that we are looking for solutions even though somebody else already has a solution.

115. The Chairperson: When we visited the Scottish Parliament, I was impressed that it has Minister for Public Health and Sport. Some of the work that we are undertaking was inspired by that experience. For example, Liz McColgan addressed a Scottish Committee on this subject. We are following best practice.

116. Mr Harkness: It is fair to say that we are learning from examples around the world. We continually scan those. The models that we are implementing and recommending now in the strategy take account of research that we undertake on what works around the world. Different societies have different outlooks. The significance of the Finnish model is that the community was convinced by government-funded social marketing that a physically active lifestyle was beneficial. People listened, believed and responded. Large sums of money are involved. We do not have the resources to deliver a social marketing campaign of that scale.

117. Mr News: The Sport Matters strategy contains about 60 difference references. They are included because, although we are delighted with the strategy, we had to conduct an environmental survey of what else was out there — Trevor’s point exactly — what works elsewhere and take the best bits and plug them into our strategy. It could be argued that our strategy is an amalgam of the best bits that work elsewhere but that is tailored for a Northern Ireland context and for the Northern Ireland population.

118. I want to emphasise that we sometimes come up with the good ideas. The oft-quoted Scottish example of health investing in education through sport is a Northern Ireland idea; it did not come from Scotland. It is our model from 10 years ago. The resource was not available 10 years ago to make it work as Scotland has made it work. There is a new paradigm now. The Assembly has given us more accountability and more control over our own destiny, and politicians have more opportunities to say what needs to happen in Northern Ireland. That was not the case 10 years ago.

119. Mr Donnelly: In Finland and Canada, a key ingredient is a clear and concise message on physical activity. There is a mixed message here. Social marketing has happened here and there, and only some people have picked up the message.

120. Mr T Clarke: Whose fault is that?

121. Mr Donnelly: I will not blame anyone or say who the message should come from.

122. Mr T Clarke: There is a responsibility to get the message out, and, if it is not getting out, there is blame. If the message is important, it should be getting out.

123. Mr Donnelly: We carried out a survey of public attitudes to sport and physical activity in 2008. Only 7% of the adults who were surveyed indicated that they were aware of and understood the recommendations on physical activity. That tells us straightaway that there is work to be done. A revision of the UK physical activity guidelines is being carried out by the Department of Health and others. The plan is for those guidelines to be issued in November 2010. The key aspect of that 100-page document, which will be supported by evidence, will be to set out the key messages on physical activity that we want to put out via the various social marketing campaigns. We have not yet got to that point.

124. The Change 4 Life programme has worked to some extent in England, Scotland and Wales, but it is too early to say whether it has had an impact. Similarly, it is too early to say whether our Activ8 campaign, which is targeted at children and young people, is having an impact. The least that we should try to do is let people know what level of physical activity is required. We are not sure that the general public know what is expected of them.

125. Mr T Clarke: Sorry to keep harking back to this point, but your campaigns are irrelevant if the message is not getting out. How will you deliver the message better than it has been delivered in the past?

126. Mr News: Sport NI puts out one message, and the Department of Health puts out a similar message with a different finesse. The Department of Education puts out another similar message, and so on. People get confused. Someone used to talk about a single transferrable speech. Social marketing should be about a single message: be physically active. Adults should be physically active five times a week, and we need to ensure that people hear that message consistently.

127. The Activ8 campaign has been running in schools for almost 12 months. We are delighted with that campaign because it tells teachers, pupils and parents what it to takes to be physically active and to have a healthy lifestyle. It provides a simple, clear message in a language that children and parents understand. It does away with the scientific jargon and confusion about what certain recommendations mean. It tells children to play with their friends; run about at lunchtime; play with their brothers and sisters; and get their mum and dad involved.

128. The message is couched in simple terms that people can understand. Social marketing works only if it is communicated in language that everyone understands. In America, they talk about water-cooler moments. We hope that people will go into work and ask a colleague whether they saw the message in an advert on TV, heard it on the radio or saw it in a newspaper. All those organs of communications should carry the same message.

129. Mr Harkness: Many organisations touch on the message, and each one has a slightly different perspective. We need to get past the danger of every organisation wanting to have its logo attached to the message. The message is what is important, not who funds it or whose logo is on it. The challenge for us and for our partners is to get a single message across. We are not there yet.

130. Mr Leonard: You talked about changing the culture, and, indeed, social marketing has been mentioned about 20 times. You already made some of the points that I was going to make, but I want to take the discussion further. Our society is not fantastic when it comes to changing cultures. Some people may argue that we are winning the battle on recycling, but we are not winning as regards young men’s driving. Changing the culture is extremely hard. The previous questions have begun to unpack how we will achieve that change in culture and bolt it down.

131. I do not want to be unfair, but when there is a great deal of emphasis on the anti- side of things, particularly if a major part of a campaign is anchored to anti-obesity, people switch off. They feel that it is about obesity, and x per cent of them will feel that it is of no concern to them.

132. There is a fundamental flaw in the culture in social marketing, because the messages are often couched in anti- terms. I am not saying that Sport NI is doing that with this campaign, but a great deal of the public discourse and mindset is that campaigns often involve an anti- something element. Where are the positive messages and how are they being distilled? Logos are important, but what will the key messages be? Changing that culture will be one of the hardest things to do.

133. Mr Harkness: Selling the benefits, rather than being negative, is an important point. We referred to the Change 4 Life campaign in England, Scotland and Wales, and that scheme has a positive aspect. It is about changing a person’s quality of life and life experience.

134. Lord Browne: I apologise for not being a very good role model for this inquiry. [Laughter.]

135. The Chairperson: You have just signed up to the Sport Relief challenge. Well done. [Laughter.]

136. Lord Browne: I may come at the bottom of those graphs.

137. Earlier, the witnesses referred to the Active Communities programme, and it is important to encourage people to take part in simple exercise such as walking. In east Belfast, we have just had a £34 million investment in the Connswater Greenway scheme, and it is important that, when the project is up and running, people are encouraged to use it for walking. However, has Sport NI examined more innovative schemes such as a swipe card facility similar to those used at Tesco? Users could build up points each time they use the walkway, which could be exchanged for —

138. Mr Harkness: Mars Bars? [Laughter.]

139. Lord Browne: No. I was thinking about council facilities, perhaps a reduction in rates or a reduced price for a visit to a leisure centre. Furthermore, are you engaging with the business community with such schemes? If swipe card facilities were installed, Tesco and other shops could offer money off healthy foods.

140. The Chairperson: I know someone who would have no rates bill if that scheme was introduced. [Laughter.]

141. Lord Browne: Our young people here are encouraged to take part in sport in schools and, although some go on to join sports clubs, we do lose a great deal of them when they leave school. In Europe, I believe that clubs actually run the physical exercise and sporting activities in the schools, rather than the schools themselves. Could that be introduced here, so that people are involved in clubs at an early stage, and would therefore be more likely to continue with exercise in later years?

142. Mr Harkness: That integration of schools and clubs is something that Sport NI is taking very seriously. Our Youth Sport programme attempted to do that, and it would be very useful in the provision of facilities, which Sport NI has spoken to the Committee about before.

143. When my own son started to play rugby at a very early age and then decided he wanted to play hockey, he had to build up the confidence to go to a different club in a different location. If he had been playing those sports at school, he would have been able to make that change in the same physical estate more comfortably.

144. It is all about integrating the infrastructure that exists. In France, there are sports hubs at schools and schoolchildren use them during the day, and they are awash with club and out-of-school activity in the evenings and at weekends. Unfortunately, we have been handcuffed by the history of our local authorities, and the fact that our schools have been governed by different organisations. In England it is slightly different in that the local council also look after the education system, and it is much easier to have one estate servicing both needs. We must move towards that. I totally concur with what the member said.

145. Mr News: Clubs are a determinant of lifelong participation. All the data sets and the information suggest that there is a definite link between being a member of a sports club and being physically active. Members of those clubs may not play everyday, but there is a social network of people in those clubs and members speak the same language as each other. There will be somebody at the end of the phone to encourage others to come on a Tuesday night or Saturday morning and go for a walk, a cycle, have a game of squash or go to the gym. That was certainly one of the big learning points that came from the community sport programmes over the past number of years.

146. You are absolutely right about relationships with Tesco and Sainsbury’s: they see it as pester power. Sainsbury’s have active kids vouchers, which schools collect through parents doing their shopping. People collect vouchers and schools can collect activity bags or use vouchers that they bring into local shops and so on. The only concern is that Tesco and Sainsbury’s do not care whether people buy full-fat milk, burgers and chips; they just want people’s money. However, we have tried to develop Tesco and Sainsbury’s schemes that are in place. We have also spoken in the past to Asda in Northern Ireland.

147. The greenway was also mentioned, with which I am familiar. Last year, I spoke to some people who are involved in the delivery of the programme about how swipe cards could be used to monitor activity. That is done in parts of Europe, and I think that I heard of an example in Holland. It goes to the heart of trying to encourage active travel. When town planners there look at infrastructure and movement around or into a town centre, they prioritise walking and cycling use over the car. It is no wonder that town centres get clogged up with cars, because we give cars the right of way. The car is king in this country.

148. We need more schemes such as the greenway that was mentioned to take cycle tracks into the heart of local communities, rather than providing spurs that link to main roads. Those result in children getting to main roads and suddenly being confronted with several hundred cars whizzing past at 50, 60 or 70 mph.

149. We need links that take safe routes to schools, particularly in rural areas. There was a successful series of pilot schemes, including the rural safe routes to school initiative, which was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development a couple of years ago. It looked at building up a culture in schools so that children and parents felt reassured and that it was safe to cycle to school. Provision was made on the school estate for the bikes to be safe. There were also traffic-calming measures to make the people who drove along those stretches of roads aware of the programme.

150. There are schemes, such as IT solutions, that can be used to monitor such initiatives. Like all such schemes, however, they cost a lot of money.

151. Mr McCartney: I have two small points. I apologise if my questions have already been asked; I was not here. Nick made a point about his son’s school experience of playing rugby and then hockey. Should schools guarantee that a minimum number of sports are included in the curriculum?

152. My second point is about physical activity, particularly walking. Statistics show that it is seasonal in that people tend to walk more during the brighter nights. In Finland, a lot of money was put into floodlit walkways. As soon as the clocks go forward here in a couple of weeks’ time, there will be an explosion of people out walking. For various reasons, they do not go out on darker nights.

153. Mr Harkness: The target for the Government in England is that pupils in post-primary schools should get up to five hours of physical activity — PE or after-school sport — a week. Through the strategy development process, we proposed a target for two hours of PE a week, but I do not think that the Department of Education sets time standards for any of the subject matter. It is up to the boards of governors and principals of the schools to take the new curriculum and work out their own programme and commitment to each of the subject matter.

154. The strategy refers to an aspiration for two hours of PE a week, but that is not a commitment or a hard target. Children spend a lot of time at home. Schools are only part of the issue, but schools are an ideal environment for children to be introduced to and have dedicated time for physical activity. They should also become hubs for extra-curricular physical activity. The sport does not have to be hard or competitive. Some of our schools are enthusiastic about their first XV or the first XI and kids who are less suited to physical activity are ignored and go home at 3.30 pm.

155. Mr McCartney: Many schools have a tendency to specialise in one sport. A student could be the best at a sport that is never touched in a particular school.

156. Mr Harkness: That is right. As parents, it is our job to try to help find opportunities for our children to take part in the activity that they enjoy and are quite good at, which varies from one kid to another. John has just scribbled a note to remind me that we recently conducted some light-touch research across all primary schools in Northern Ireland. We asked whether they provided two hours PE or physical activity a week. Only 17% of our primary schools confirmed that they did. We are designing a leaflet containing that information, which we will bring to the attention to all education and library boards, primary schools and their boards of governors.

157. The Chairperson: Many parents take their children to sporting events on a Saturday morning. Are there any projects that are aimed at involving parents in physical activity? I am thinking of Youth Sports Omagh, which has a running track and a walking track. Its car park is full of parents who have dropped off their children or are waiting for them. Are there any parallel projects that could involve parents or that use young people to get through to older people?

158. Mr News: The short answer is yes. An example is the lads and dads programme in Coleraine. We often focus, quite rightly, on getting more women and girls involved in sport. However, in fragmented communities where antisocial behaviour is evident, young fellas tend, unfortunately, to be more of a problem. The lads and dads programme sought to involve fathers as role models and to involve them in physical activity, because they needed it themselves, while at the same time engaging their sons. There are examples of lads and dads projects across Northern Ireland.

159. Mr D Bradley: Involvement in PE seems to taper off by the time pupils reach lower sixth and upper sixth. Many pupils drop out of sport at that stage. Some schools have no framework to encourage them to continue. Such pupils are on the threshold of adulthood, so there seems to be a sports’ vacuum that people enter from which many do not re-emerge.

160. Mr Donnelly: It is important to answer that question and Lord Browne’s. We have club membership statistics that may be of interest. The young persons’ behaviour and attitudes survey in 2007 found that 59% of 11- to 16-year-olds were members of one or more sports clubs that were not connected to schools. I regard that as a fairly good sign that things are on the up. The continuous household survey of 2007-2008 presents data that states that 22% of adults are members of one or more sports clubs, so there is a massive drop-off in involvement in sport from the age of 16 until people leave school and get involved in something else.

161. Our organisation and its partners have identified that as a challenge. We support our partners to develop positive links between schools and clubs in their respective areas. The challenge for Sport NI is to support clubs in their efforts to retain the people who are members of their clubs beyond their departure from school at the age of 14, 15 or 16. We are trying to meet that challenge as we move forward.

162. Mr D Bradley: The school regime becomes a bit more relaxed in lower and upper sixth. There may be a greater tendency for pupils to drop out of sport and not become engaged again because class attendance is not enforced to the same degree as it was pre-lower sixth.

163. The Chairperson: We will leave that as a comment for now.

164. Mr T Clarke: I want to return to what Paul said about the need for some mechanism to try to keep people involved in clubs. That would have a negative effect. It is similar to what Billy Leonard said earlier when we were discussing obese people. Obese people are not necessarily going to want to join a club, so a barrier is being created by trying to encourage people to join clubs. I know that I am overweight. For that reason, I would not want to join a football club; I would be happier to do something else. As Billy suggested earlier, that may create a barrier for the people who need it the most. You are creating a barrier for obese people by emphasising that they should be part of a sports club, rather than coming up with a strategy for them other than joining a club.

165. Mr Harkness: That is an important point. One of the points that I made earlier was that there is a need to make sure that there is a range of abilities. When I was at school, I was no good with a ball, and the thought of joining a football club would not have appealed to me. I discovered training, running, mountain climbing and other physical activities that meant something for me. It is about finding and making available a menu of opportunities with which people feel comfortable, whether that involves a greenway, football pitch or a cycling club.

166. I give credit to other organisations that are taking steps in that regard. One example is the Grove Wellbeing Centre, where the doctor’s surgery is in the same building as some recreational sports facilities, so people can feel comfortable in that environment. When they go to see the doctor they see other, similarly shaped people being physically active, and they feel comfortable to step across the threshold into the physical activity area. There are imaginative examples of how that can work.

167. Mr T Clarke: My problem is that a lot of the emphasis of your briefing is on competition, which excludes people who are not naturally competitive. If there are to be at least 700 qualified, full-time coaches, or so many hundred people to obtain medals —

168. The Chairperson: Perhaps the emphasis is on two points. The first is participation, which we are discussing today, and performance is another. We heard earlier in the presentation that the work of Sport NI is about participation and performance. Perhaps you are now emphasising the performance aspect.

169. Mr Harkness: The word “coaches” should not be misinterpreted. We talk about workforce development. In developing participation, simply making a facility available often does not do the trick. It is important to have people there who are welcoming, sympathetic and empathise with people of all levels of fitness who are likely to come through the door. Outreach work, for example, with the overweight lady with mental health problems who became involved in bocce, is also important. The people who really make a facility come to life help to drive the participation up. There is no doubt that that requires ongoing investment.

170. Mr Leonard: Perhaps the goal is to find the one symbol and message that expresses the view that participation in a competitive club is equally as valuable as Kieran going down the road on a bicycle or as the activities of any other groups, whatever their physical capabilities. The core message should be that it is for all. That does not mean that one size fits all, but that we can all participate in various ways in clubs or non clubs, on our own or informally.

171. Mr Harkness: For so few words, we spent a lot of time coming up with a vision and a strategy for sport. It is easy to come up with a long message, but difficult to come up with a short one. That is why we came up with “A culture of lifelong enjoyment and success in sport”. That was attempting to cover both issues. It is up to the Committee to judge whether it did that.

172. Mr K Robinson: The vision of Kieran freewheeling down a hill would sell that to many. [Laughter.]

173. The Chairperson;

174. Something that Trevor said earlier reminded me of a gentleman who joined a gym in Omagh. I commended him, and said that it was a great first step. He said that he was “mad enough for anything.” [Laughter.] As if someone has to be mad to take part in physical activity or sport. On that note, I thank the team from Sport NI. The session was supposed to last for 60 minutes but it lasted 90 minutes.

175. Mr Harkness: I will make one final point in summary. We focused on the need for a single message and for cross-departmental, cross-organisational work. You will know better than I do about the process for setting PSA targets for Departments. I cannot think of a single Department to which a physical activity target would not apply. The message that I have been trying to express through the obesity prevention steering group and the work that I am doing on physical activity is that all Departments have responsibilities on that issue and that there is a need for those to be met. When a new Programme for Government is set in a few years time, I would love to see every Department having a target on physical activity. There will be no accountability for delivering until we have that, then we can all ensure that there is joined-up working.

176. The Chairperson: Thank you for that. I remind Members that Dominic Bradley, Wallace Browne, Kieran McCarthy and I have signed up to take part in the Sport Relief challenge on 21 March and a number of us are going to the Sports Institute this afternoon. That is all you need to know for now. [Laughter.]

4 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr P J Bradley
Lord Browne
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Billy Leonard
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Ms Norrie Breslin
Ms Joanne McDowell

Big Lottery Fund

177. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I welcome Joanne McDowell, head of policy development and public affairs, and Norrie Breslin, senior policy and development officer, and I thank them for coming along. I invite Joanne and Norrie to make a 10-minute opening statement. I will then give members the opportunity to ask questions.

178. Ms Joanne McDowell (Big Lottery Fund): Unfortunately, our director, Walter Rader, is not able to make it today due to a family bereavement, and I apologise on his behalf. However, he wanted to ensure that Big Lottery Fund was represented, so Norrie and I will make a presentation that is based on the written information that we submitted to the Committee’s inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity.

179. We will start by giving the Committee a bit of background about the organisation. As the largest of the National Lottery good causes distributors, Big Lottery Fund has been giving grants to health, education, environment and charitable purposes causes across the UK since June 2004. Several legacy bodies merged in 2004 to create Big Lottery Fund, and, since then, we have run a series of programmes that work towards our mission of being committed to bringing about real improvements to communities and to the lives of people most in need.

180. As an outcomes funder, we focus on four specific areas: giving people the opportunity to achieve their full potential; helping people to actively participate in communities to bring about positive change; creating community ownership of better and safer environments; and improving physical and mental health for all people. Since 1994, Big Lottery Fund and its legacy bodies have invested more than £480 million in projects to support some 10,500 activities across Northern Ireland that contribute to communities most in need.

181. For the remainder of the presentation, we will focus on details of some Big Lottery Fund programmes and activities that specifically relate to the third point in the Committee’s terms of reference for the inquiry. We will consider solutions that concentrate on how the main groups of the adult population with lower levels of participation could be supported to think about higher levels of participation, including examples of different projects across Northern Ireland that Big Lottery Fund has funded and the ways in which it has brought those projects together.

182. Big Lottery Fund activities have focused on different support approaches for particular groups with lower levels of participation. Those can be summarised into three main areas: programmes aimed directly at making a difference to the level of participation through a range of funded activities; programmes aimed at increasing the accessibility of community-based projects and facilities to increase levels of participation; and, more generically, other programmes that fund individual projects with a focus on the promotion of health and well-being, which may indirectly support relevant users to think about how they can increase their participation in physical activity. For the purposes of today’s presentation, we thought that it would be useful to consider one example of a project or programme under each of those areas. I will begin that process by speaking about a specific programme that was aimed directly at making a difference to the level of participation through a range of activities.

183. We are aware that the Committee received a presentation from Sport NI two weeks ago. Big Lottery Fund jointly funded the Community Sport initiative with Sport NI. Building on the knowledge and learning gained during that collaboration, Big Lottery Fund devised a slightly different programme in Northern Ireland called Active Lifestyles. That programme, which was valued at £2·1 million, aimed to increase grass-roots participation in physical activity by tackling inequalities in the levels of physical activity and by considering how broader health and well-being could be delivered. A number of community groups, district councils and schools were awarded grants under that programme to deliver physical and recreational activities, such as dance, walking, cycling and multi-skills clubs, to specific groups, including older and disabled people.

184. An independent evaluation of the Active Lifestyles programme reflected on how to encourage participation specifically among those groups of people who do not normally take part in sport or physical activity. It showed that it was important to offer a range of activities that are not considered to be formal sporting activities, to use accessible venues to increase participation, and to involve participants in decision-making on the range and type of activities delivered, which ensures that physical activities include a social contact aspect.

185. Ms Norrie Breslin (Big Lottery Fund): In the area of specific programmes that are aimed directly at increasing the accessibility of community-based facilities, which have encouraged greater levels of participation, I will speak about the New Opportunities for PE and Sport programme. That programme, which was valued at £33·75 million in Northern Ireland, aimed to bring about a step change in the provision and use of PE and sports facilities by young people and by the community generally.

186. Except for the smallest projects, wider community benefit and use are an essential part of grant schemes in the PE and sport programme. There were 136 projects funded through that programme, which included the provision of purpose-built early years play areas with equipment, storerooms, changing facilities, large multi-use games areas and larger sports halls. The facilities will support a wide range of games, including soccer, basketball, rugby and Gaelic games. The projects aim to increase the amount of time available for physical activity and the participation of all pupils before, during and after school. One of those projects is the four-court sports hall with a dance studio in the Creggan area. Derry City Council in partnership with St Cecilia’s College and the Old Library Trust Healthy Living and Learning Centre was awarded just over £1·4 million to build that facility. Of the 136 projects that have been funded, 134 have now been completed and are available for use.

187. There is evidence that the programme has had a dramatic and positive impact on the levels of participation in sport and physical recreation by not just pupils but the wider community in areas where facilities have been built. It is anticipated that the larger facilities will assist with the development of community cohesion. A number of projects have been successful in securing funding from Big Lottery Fund and other funders to provide development officers to maximise the use of the facilities. It is recognised that projects will need further support to develop community use of the facilities.

188. Ms McDowell: Big Lottery Fund also has a number of other programmes that fund specific projects that have wider health and well-being outcomes. Those projects indirectly promote greater participation in sport and physical activity and are relevant to users’ needs because of the huge scale and range of activities offered. We wish to highlight the Awards for All programme, which provides small grants of between £500 and £10,000 to help to make a difference to small local groups by funding a wide range of activities. We can fund across health, education and environment, and we have funded sport and physical recreation within that programme. Those smaller community groups, which are sometimes led by sporting clubs or community associations, deliver projects at a local level. A number of those projects focus on new users who have not been involved in any activity or have been involved in only limited activity previously. Through the funding of new equipment or, perhaps, taster sessions, those projects have engaged with a wider range of users and beneficiaries to increase that participation level.

189. In summary, we hope that that information gives the Committee an overview of the range of interventions that Big Lottery Fund has funded and the linkages between those programmes and projects and the focus of the Committee’s inquiry into increased participation in sport and physical recreation.

190. Finally, we consider it appropriate to indicate Big Lottery Fund’s forthcoming programmes that we are developing at the moment and that will be open from spring 2010. We have finished consulting on those programmes, which will focus on the following: younger people at risk; older people at risk; an initiative on space and place, which will look at underutilised physical space; and alcohol-related harm. Again, we believe that, through good programme development, Big Lottery Fund may fund individual projects that support the physical activity of particular groups that have lower levels of participation than the average rate.

191. We thank the Committee for its time and for its interest in our presentation. We are happy to answer any questions.

192. The Chairperson: I will ask the first question. Your submission gives details of 136 projects funded through the New Opportunities for PE and Sport programme. Norrie spoke about that and said that almost £34 million has been spent in that area. How successful has that been in encouraging communities to make use of facilities in schools? Is that partnership approach — the notion of a community making use of a school’s gymnasium and so on — bedding down in society?

193. Ms Breslin: We have evidence from a number of the projects that we have funded that communities are using the facilities. An independent evaluation conducted by the Loughborough Partnership details the evidence that there is wider community use of some of the facilities in schools. Through the partnership approach, schools, certainly those in which a development officer is employed, are able to examine how they can overcome the challenges that they face in that regard. Many schools are booked out in the evenings and at weekends, and some even have a waiting list for the use of their facilities by the wider community.

194. Ms McDowell: In the design of that programme, we were very specific that, in all but the smallest projects, there had to be community use of those schools as part of the requirement for the delivery of each of those projects. That was an important way of illustrating the emphasis on making sure that the school estate was open where possible. Some of those projects involved minor modifications to allow access to the school estate for the evening or part of the day. Other interventions were much larger-scale, but some were as simple as, for example, changing the entrance to address access issues or dealing with storage. There was a whole range of interventions. The multi-use games areas (MUGAs) have also offered an opportunity for outside space to be used, and that has been hugely important at a number of schools across Northern Ireland.

195. The Chairperson: I know that it is working very well in St John’s High School in Dromore, County Tyrone, and I wanted to know if it was widespread.

196. Mr K Robinson: MUGAs are a new one on me — I knew that we were all mugs around the table. [Laughter.]

197. You are welcome along here, and I thank you very much for your presentation, which has been very concise.

198. Research for Northern Ireland suggests that we have a lower rate of participation in physical activity and sport generally, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. You have noted that women are under-represented, as are the disabled and the over-60s — I have to declare an interest at this stage. Have you developed specific funding programmes to meet the individual and differing needs of those three groups, or are you trying a blanket approach? Are you looking specifically at why women do not participate in sport, why an older generation does not participate in sport, and why some people may choose not to get involved?

199. You have majored on social contacts in relation to the Active Lifestyles programme. However, some people do not like to join clubs and societies or to work in groups; they are very much individuals. I am sure that we all passed them this morning out walking; a gentleman or a lady striding out on his or her own. Those are people who are actively engaged in physical activity. How do you keep those people within the bailiwick of what your organisation is aiming to do, without trying to corral them into a club or association that they do not particularly want to join?

200. Ms McDowell: Most of our programmes to date have been more about taking a blanket approach and people identifying their own specific needs. In our written submission, we used the women into sport and physical activity project in the Shankill area as an example of a project funded through the Health Living Centre programme. Promoting sport and physical activity among girls and women was identified as the key priority in that area, and those women wanted to look at a range of different activities. Therefore, we have taken a blanket approach in relation to individual programmes. As we move forward, Big Lottery Fund is trying to focus on those people who are most isolated and on transitional issues, and we want our new programmes to focus on funding activities that would meet those needs. Hence, the Older People at Risk programme recognises that there are particular transitional issues that mean that older people become less engaged and involved.

201. For individuals who may prefer not to get involved in group activity, our environmental programmes have funded a much broader range of physical facilities, such as walking and cycling routes. At the largest scale, the Connswater Community Greenway was a huge investment in east Belfast, and that project will provide bridges and cycle routes. There are major-scale interventions such as that, but we also fund a number of sensory gardens in which the emphasis is more on seating and on lighting in particular areas in order to deal with the safety aspect. That is why Big Lottery Fund offers funding for a range of things.

202. Mr K Robinson: I am very interested in what you are saying. I am the champion for the Newtownabbey Way, believe it or not. I am sure that that has come as a surprise to most people around this table.

203. Mr McNarry: Will you repeat that? [Laughter.]

204. Mr K Robinson: I am the champion for the Newtownabbey Way.

205. Mr McNarry: You are not the Newtownabbey “Flash Harry” are you?

206. Mr K Robinson: No, I am working on that.

207. I know that Wallace is engaged in the Connswater scheme. That is what I was trying to tease out from you. Those are the ideal areas for individuals to get out and do their own particular thing, without being sucked into a social occasion that they do not wish to be at. Do you have other schemes in mind that you are liable to support, in addition to the Connswater Community Greenway and the Newtownabbey Way? Are you involved with the Comber Greenway, for instance?

208. Ms McDowell: We are not funding the Comber Greenway. However, within individual programmes, we may fund some of the revenue support for development staff to think about how they engage with communities on local planning and local needs. The Awards for All programme supports initial survey-work types of activities. Those are one-off projects to look at the needs of particular users or to consider regeneration activities.

209. Mr K Robinson: Do you seek those slots, or do people bring them to your attention?

210. Ms McDowell: On a number of those programmes, we have an open application process through which people bring bids to us. As we move into programme development and think more about resources and changes, such as those that will result from the review of public administration, our next round of programmes is more likely to include indicative allocations to specific geographical areas and to encourage those areas to think about how they can plan and deliver projects that are a priority in their area. It will not be an open and competitive bidding process as such, but particular priorities will be identified in local areas and ideas will be brought forward.

211. Mr McCarthy: Thank you for your presentation. I thank you for the work that your organisation has done throughout Northern Ireland, including in the area of Ards Borough Council, of which I am a member. You mentioned the fact that schools have benefited, and I can think of St Columba’s College in my constituency as being an example of that. The process was slow to start with, but it has gathered momentum, and people are using sports facilities that they would not otherwise have been using. The work that has been done at that school is an excellent example.

212. Norrie, you mentioned Sport Northern Ireland, which is shortly to launch a strategy for sport and physical recreation. Do your funding programmes dovetail in any way with that strategy? More generally, how do you work with Sport NI to ensure that the funding of similar programmes is not duplicated?

213. Ms Breslin: We have worked in partnership with Sport Northern Ireland on a number of programmes. We worked with it on the PE and sport programme for which it provided expert technical advice on the construction of facilities, and we worked with it in partnership on the Community Sport programme. We work closely with Sport Northern Ireland, as we do with other agencies. We consult on what we do, and we communicate on the programmes that we are funding and those that we have funded in the past. We also consult on our future plans, and we ensure that what we do complements existing strategies. We are keen that what we do is complementary and is part of a whole rather than it being funding in a vacuum by itself.

214. Mr McCarthy: So there is no question of duplication in the funding provision. You are on top of that.

215. Ms McDowell: We also work with Sport NI on the lottery distributors’ forum in Northern Ireland. All the lottery distributors meet regularly on various agenda items to think about how they can ensure that no duplication takes place and to consider where the linkages and opportunities for joint working exist.

216. Mr McCarthy: I pay tribute to your work with the healthy living partnership. It is valued enormously in my constituency.

217. Mr Leonard: Good morning, you are welcome. I want to ask about the flexibility of your organisation. Funders are powerful people; they control the chequebook and the credit card. I do not wish to flatter the Committee, but, if our inquiry were to come up with findings that required action that required finances, would your organisation have the flexibility to take our findings into account? I am not suggesting that a specific programme should be drawn up that is geared to our findings, but I am asking whether resources could be allocated under new funded projects. You mentioned programme development. Does flexibility exist within the current arrangements? I mean no criticism whatsoever, and others have referred to the good work that you have done, but there is the fear that needs are sometimes not met by money. The figures show that there is a need; we are finding that out already. Do you have the management and the programmatic flexibility to contribute to the Committee’s findings in the years ahead?

218. Ms McDowell: We are developing programmes that will run in Northern Ireland between 2010 and 2015. Within those programmes, there is flexibility to think about local needs and local priorities. Within the Older People at Risk programme, for example, there is a clear identification of the needs of older people and how those could be supported. The Space and Place initiative also offers opportunities to think about local prioritisation, and that will involve working with local councils in Northern Ireland to determine the local priorities in the physical environment. Therefore, there is a level of flexibility within existing programmes.

219. Added value could come from any evidence that the Committee produces that allows us, through future strategies, to focus on forthcoming programmes. We could think about those ideas and initiatives that might link to how Big Lottery Fund could add value by extending or enhancing existing projects or programmes to consider new or different users.

220. Mr Leonard: I will follow that up with a spin-off from Ken’s point about wanting people to participate more. Would you fund an advertisement that encouraged everyone to participate in sport and exercise? Could a body come to you and apply for funding for an advertising campaign that aimed to raise awareness?

221. Ms McDowell: Potentially, a body could do that through full cost recovery. However, we would look for additional delivery and wider support on the ground rather than a stand-alone advertising campaign. We have funded that type of activity in a limited sense, and the value comes in local seminars, local campaigning, local initiatives and working with partners to build in existing networks and to make their work more focused. We did a Breathing Places programme with BBC Northern Ireland, which looked at how we could support communities in thinking about the better use of physical space. That initiative concerned a range of activities rather than one particular element. I can envisage more initiatives like that happening in the future.

222. Mr Leonard: If you have buy-in from organisations on the ground, you can take the lead.

223. Ms McDowell: Big Lottery Fund seeks to build proposed activities into existing networks rather than fund stand-alone activity.

224. Lord Browne: Thank you for your presentation. I appreciate the huge investment that you have made in the Connswater walkway scheme in east Belfast. That is a marvellous project that will benefit not only the people of east Belfast but all the people of Belfast.

225. You detailed the amount of funding that you give to sports and fitness programmes and groups. Do you have any figures relating to the impact that that has had on participation levels? Is there evidence that the programmes that you fund are successful? Does increasing funding lead to a proportional increase in participation?

226. Ms McDowell: Thank you very much for those questions. There are a number of activities that could be further supported, delivered and developed. We have individual programme evaluations that show the impact of those programmes. We are also moving to more generic evaluations that look at the totality of the impact of the funding that we deliver. For example, we have looked at a well-being evaluation that takes on board a number of programmes and thinks about how those can be linked. We also pull together that research in a more user-friendly format for the PE and sport programme that Norrie mentioned.

227. Ms Breslin: We drafted a document called ‘Sporting Chance’, which looks at the impact of the building of physical infrastructure through the PE and sport programme on the different users. It examines the area partnerships that were set up to prioritise that funding and the impact on those. It also demonstrates the impact of the PE and sport programme on disabled young people, young women and the wider community.

228. Lord Browne: Are you confident that that represents value for money?

229. Ms McDowell: Yes, in terms of the investment. However, in answer to the second part of your question, investment in participation or physical activity alone may not be the best value for money in terms of the wider impact. Big Lottery Fund has evidence that it can fund a range of interrelated activities that focus not only on participation but on aspects of healthy living such as diet. Cook It programmes, for instance, provide people with skills that can be used. We also have to consider the age range for intervention and that early intervention leads to progression through participation and delivery in those areas. Therefore, I suggest that there must be a combination of the two to deliver a more effective and efficient use of resources. The complementarity and linkages between different programmes and the overall change or difference that individual projects aim to make must be considered.

230. Mr McNarry: I appreciate your openness and the obvious enthusiasm that is reflected in your presentation.

231. Big Lottery Fund’s programmes include Community Sport, Active Lifestyles, Transforming Your Space, Healthy Living Centre, Voluntary and Community Sector, and Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities. Are each of those programmes administrated separately?

232. Ms McDowell: Yes. However, those programmes have been run over a period of time. Our submission includes programmes that we have run since 1994, but we run only a limited number of programmes at any time. Those programmes do not all run concurrently.

233. Mr McNarry: What is your average administrative cost to run those types of programmes?

234. Ms McDowell: Our current operating costs are 8·5% across the UK.

235. Mr McNarry: Will you translate that into money? How much does each of those programmes cost to administrate?

236. Ms McDowell: I cannot answer your question directly, because each programme’s cost varies slightly around that figure, and I do not have that evidence with me.

237. Mr McNarry: Will you send it to the Committee?

238. Ms McDowell: Yes.

239. Mr McNarry: Given that Sport NI is also a distributor of lottery funds, why is Big Lottery Fund, rather than Sport NI, taking responsibility for distributing money to sport and physical activity-related projects? Why is there that separation?

240. Ms McDowell: Big Lottery Fund can fund across health, education and environment. Within that, some of our programmes have focused on sport and participation. We have worked jointly with Sport NI on those programmes, particularly Community Sport, and Big Lottery Fund has distributed money with Sport NI. We look at the synergies and learning in those areas, and, as Norrie illustrated, we capitalise on Sport Northern Ireland’s huge delivery expertise. We offered support for development officers, and Sport NI worked with those development officers across Northern Ireland.

241. Mr McNarry: Does Big Lottery Fund accept that it takes up the Government’s funding slack? That Big Lottery Fund money would not normally or naturally be available. Do you think that Governments cop out because of the funds that your organisation puts in?

242. Ms McDowell: Our strategic framework, policies and priorities make it clear that we must add value, and public scrutiny shows that we do. On some of those programmes, as Norrie said, we have considered how we can add value to existing strategies or delivery. As opposed to reinventing the wheel or going back to basics, we have looked at how we can extend, enhance or develop activities. Therefore, in terms of the concept of added value, we are continually scrutinised.

243. Mr McNarry: I appreciate that, but I also want to take account of the fact that there are people who do not like to accept Big Lottery Fund money. There are people who do not do the lottery, because it is a form of gambling. Nevertheless, the benefits from the lottery are put back into the community that is funding programmes such as those I described. Might we in government, particularly in Northern Ireland, be becoming complacent as funders? That may be particularly true in hard financial times, during which there is a certain reliance on people to gamble and to play the lottery in the hope of winning their dream. Do we start to rely on that money and almost count it as part of what we have to spend?

244. Ms McDowell: Big Lottery Fund recognises that we are moving into an extremely challenging fiscal scenario in respect of spending reviews. That means that the onus will be on Big Lottery Fund to look at how we fund and how we can add value. There is no doubt that we have to keep that under continual review and to look at where our money goes. We have thought about the programmes that we are going to deliver in the context of the changing financial environment.

245. Big Lottery Fund is continually oversubscribed in terms of the amount of money that is available to fund projects vis-à-vis the demand for projects on the ground. It is a continual challenge for us to focus on those who are most in need. That is why we have produced a new strategic framework to focus on where we can add value to ensure that we are adding value to what happens on the ground without displacing existing resource.

246. Mr McNarry: I am not too sure about your answer. I will read very seriously what you have just said.

247. If you were able to play the lottery and make the one change to government policy that you think would have the biggest impact on increasing participation in sport and physical activity, what would that be? That is a hell of a question that I am asking.

248. Ms Breslin: A magic wand.

249. Ms McDowell: Exactly: a magic wand.

250. Mr McNarry: It is a difficult question, but it is an important one, because you are involved in policy whether you like it or not. You drive policy. Although you are not saying it, I am bound to think that, somewhere along the line, people from your organisation and from government are putting together these programmes. That is how it is done. In many ways, as is the case with the carers’ situation, we get things on the cheap. We get these programmes as a result of gambling. If you could change or improve one thing in government policy, what would that be?

251. Ms McDowell: We often see that we work best on interdepartmental agendas and in relation to public health and the ways in which the Investing for Health strategy links with participation. In terms of thinking about a change or difference that could be made, that cross-agenda working could be one area that we could work on.

252. Mr McNarry: That is a good answer.

253. Mr P J Bradley: I thought that David was going to ask what numbers you would pick if you were doing the lottery.

254. Mr McNarry: I will ask that after the meeting. I am not going to share that with you lot. [Laughter.]

255. Mr P J Bradley: Thank you for the presentation. I had no questions at the start, but the further that you went into the presentation, the more questions that I had. I ended up with about 30 questions but have reduced them to two.

256. You mentioned walking routes and bridges. I thought immediately of an exercise that I have been involved in over the past six months. Outside Warrenpoint, there is a little footbridge over a fjord that is in a bad state of repair. My enquiries uncovered that it is not owned by the council, the Rivers Agency or the Roads Service. No one knows who put the bridge there; it is perhaps more than 100 years old. The cost of repair would be about £3,000 or £4,000. Do you require clearly defined custodians before you can enter into a project?

257. Ms McDowell: Yes, very much so. We expect capital build projects to have identified the statutory duties before making an application to us. We can help with costs in terms of the delivery of those programmes, but we look for the ownership issue and for how long that ownership has been in place.

258. Mr P J Bradley: It is impossible in that case; all my enquiries drew a blank in respect of ownership. It is a great facility. A lot of parents use it to stay off the main road.

259. Am I correct in believing that funding from the Awards for All programme does not extend to improving facilities or equipment for the promotion of culture and arts? Will you explain the reason for that? Is there an alternative source within Big Lottery Fund through which such premises can be facilitated or the equipment and facilities in buildings improved?

260. Ms McDowell: Awards for All extends to cover a number of different project areas that relate to education and charitable purposes. Some of those are arts focused, and Big Lottery Fund works closely with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, as it has its own small grants programmes for the core arts. There is some synergy between those, and we talk regularly and signpost potential applicants to different sources of funding for arts projects.

261. In relation to premises, Big Lottery Fund ran a programme called Improving Community Buildings, which considered fit-for-purpose issues. We are working through proposals to deliver a new programme that will look at the physical shape of buildings, the physical resources that they provide, and their energy efficiency for the future. Those proposals are currently in programme development.

262. Mr P J Bradley: Does Big Lottery Fund have someone who goes out to speak to groups?

263. Ms McDowell: Within my team in the Belfast office, there is an information team that regularly attends events. Sometimes those events involve working directly with individual groups. We also work a lot with local councils across Northern Ireland. Councils work up funders’ forums in which a number of different funders are brought together with groups in council areas. Big Lottery Fund representatives attend those forums regularly to make sure that people have the opportunity to hear, perhaps in one evening, a number of different funders explain various funding sources.

264. Mr K Robinson: I am a councillor, as are several Committee members. We have difficulties with the endless groups of funders and with the time spent, the effort involved and the frustration caused in trying to get that cocktail of funding together. Is there any way that that process can be streamlined from your end? Each organisation needs its day in the sun, but it is most frustrating for the people on the ground — for councillors who are trying to co-ordinate things — to pursue endless negotiations with endless bodies to get £5,000 here, £10,000 there and £500 somewhere else.

265. The Chairperson: We have drifted somewhat from the inquiry, but a brief answer would be appreciated.

266. Mr K Robinson: That streamlining will be helpful in the long term.

267. Ms McDowell: Big Lottery Fund works regularly with other funding bodies to look at what we can mirror once groups have been successful in their delivery. One potential idea to think about is having a lead funder, whereby one organisation takes responsibility. Sometimes the nature of other people’s funding precludes that, but Big Lottery Fund has done it on lottery-funded projects in which a major lottery funder is working with other lottery funders and a lead funder is appointed to work with an organisation. However, that is specific to those projects in which we work with other lottery distributors.

268. The Chairperson: I thank Joanne and Norrie very much for their contribution.

4 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr P J Bradley
Lord Browne
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Billy Leonard
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Dr Vinod Johani
Dr Theo Nugent
Ms Gráinne Magee

British Medical Association

269. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I formally welcome the representatives from the British Medical Association (BMA) to the meeting. It is a three-person team comprising Dr Tohani, Dr Nugent and Gráinne Magee.

270. Ms Gráinne Magee (British Medical Association): I thank the Chairman and the Committee for inviting us to give evidence to the inquiry. We very much appreciate the opportunity to give evidence from the perspective of doctors. The BMA is very concerned about the problems that Northern Ireland faces, which are common with those in the rest of the UK, as a consequence of a combination of poor diet and a lack of exercise.

271. The British Medical Association has a long-term interest in the health of the public and believes that the most effective way to improve the population’s health is to improve activity levels among inactive people. Despite the clear benefits of regular exercise, the Northern Ireland population is mainly sedentary. Activity levels have declined in the past 30 years, and the majority of children and adults in the UK are not physically active.

272. However, the evidence demonstrates that an inactive lifestyle has a substantial negative impact on both individual and public health and is the primary contributor to a broad range of chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. The high level of individual suffering caused by those diseases, together with the substantial associated financial costs, makes this a major public health issue. However, at the outset, we want to say that tackling levels of physical inactivity requires a cross-departmental and cross-sectoral approach, and we encourage government Departments to play their role.

273. Dr Theo Nugent is a practising GP and a member of the BMA council. Dr Vinod Tohani is also a member of the BMA council and is an independent public health consultant.

274. Dr Vinod Tohani (British Medical Association): Thank you for inviting us. As we have already highlighted, physical activity not only contributes to well-being but is essential for good health. The evidence is compelling. Our submission highlights some of the benefits of exercise; I will quickly repeat some of those.

275. The great majority of adults in Northern Ireland do not participate in physical activity at levels that provide the full range of public benefit. It has been agreed internationally that a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week is essential — 30 minutes a day for five days — to provide any benefits to an individual’s health. The Chief Medical Officer highlighted that point in his report, ‘At Least Five a Week’. An increase in activity levels would contribute to the prevention and management of several conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes — particularly type 2 diabetes — and some cancers. Moreover, it would have a beneficial effect on mental well-being and an overall impact on weight management.

276. People who are physically active reduce their risk of developing major chronic diseases, having a stroke and contracting type 2 diabetes by up to 50%. An active lifestyle can also help people to cope with the feeling of stress and improve their mental well-being, and an increase in activity levels has beneficial effects on muscular and skeletal health, particularly in elderly people with osteoporosis. Regular exercise certainly delays osteoporosis in women.

277. It is recognised that the fundamental cause of obesity is a lack of physical activity. Obviously, many other factors, such as diet, contribute to obesity. In Northern Ireland, 59% of adults are obese, and about 26% of children are overweight or obese. Worryingly, data from the Northern Ireland child health system in 2004 and 2005 indicated that 22% of children in the Province are obese. That leads to other chronic medical conditions later in life.

278. In terms of physical activity, the Northern Ireland health and social well-being survey found that only 30% of adults in Northern Ireland meet the 150-minute criterion. Therefore, 70% of people are still inactive or do not take enough exercise to be beneficial to their health. The costs of inactivity are immense. Obesity and type 2 diabetes can lead to 2,100 deaths per annum in Northern Ireland. That situation could also be modified by increased activity levels.

279. The reasons why people are less active are multifactorial. If you look at history and the way that society is going, you see that more and more people are travelling by car and work is becoming more or less automated. Therefore, people’s physical activity levels at work or at rest are limited. There are several barriers to physical activity; for example, social and environmental barriers, such as lack of playgrounds and parks near where people live, and house design. There are also personal variables: people who have not been involved in physical activity as children find it hard to get motivated or to change their behaviour as adults.

280. Given that there are multiple barriers to participation, a number of policy interventions are required, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Changing inactive lifestyles and activity levels presents a tremendous public health challenge. There is evidence that public health action on a number of levels helps to increase people’s physical activity. That is a long-term challenge. The complex and social implications of that challenge call for long-term efforts and investment. That includes policy and environmental changes; development of strategies, such as local transport plans; involvement of primary care; and targeting of different groups — in particular, getting the message to lower socio-economic groups. While middle socio-economic groups may take part in more exercise, the message is still not filtering, for various reasons, to lower socio-economic groups. Either the environment is not apt for those people or our message is not getting to them as it should in order to inform them and to change their behaviour.

281. At government level, all Departments have a role to play in planning and working with education providers and the health and leisure industries. Indeed, they have a role in planning future housing, parks, road services and transport policies. All of those need to be integrated in order to impact on people and change their behaviour.

282. As regards employers and workplaces; the Health Service is the biggest employer in Northern Ireland. However, its priority has not really shifted towards encouraging staff to take adequate exercise or to cycle or walk to work. In order for staff to do those things there must be environmental changes to buildings, such as provision of showers, so that people who come to work by bicycle can shower and change their clothes if they wish. Therefore, many things must be integrated in order to encourage people at employment level.

283. As regards schools and colleges, I have done little research on the curriculum. Sport and physical activity is built into the school curriculum. However, I have no knowledge of how well schools actually incorporate that and motivate children. That must be examined. In other European countries and in America, governments look at the effectiveness of sporting activities in schools and, particularly, at children who do not take part in them.

284. As regards leisure and sports services; again, consideration must be given to the design of leisure centres, their distance from users, and whether transportation is available. What are the charges? It is almost impossible to ask to encourage an unemployed person to fork out £5 to travel to the facilities and another £5 to take part in an activity. The cost of using leisure centres and sports centres needs to be looked at.

285. Even America, which is a capitalist society, encourages communities to use school sports centres and gyms after hours, because schools get the money to build those facilities from the taxpayers. Obviously there needs to be some investment in terms of paying for security and the locking up of those facilities.

286. Dr Theo Nugent (British Medical Association): As I wandered around the premises this morning I was struck by the number of dangerous items that are scattered about the place as demonstration pieces. However, nowadays, the seats that we are sitting on are possibly the most dangerous items, because they lead to complacency as we sit in our offices gazing at computer screens. That has a cumulative effect and increases the number of hours that we spend doing nothing other than moving our mouse hand.

287. As Dr Tohani said, GPs see the end results of inactivity and lack of exercise in society, which include heart disease, diabetes, strokes and all the factors that accompany stress. Less predictably and more surprisingly, perhaps, three of the biggest killers — colon cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer — are definitely reduced by increased exercise exposure. Older people, who constitute a large number of primary care consultations, can also benefit, not just from lifelong exposure to exercise, but from exercise in later life that can augment bone strength, mobility and balance. Alongside that, but just as important, is the social and mental well-being that goes with regular exercise, particularly in group environments.

288. GPs find it difficult to motivate people to exercise. It is hard to set the time aside, and, ultimately, as with most other risky activities, it is a question of how scared the individual gets. That is what it boils down to in a consultation. Preaching and lecturing to a patient is of no use, and is disrespectful anyway, but if a patient comes in with genuine concerns, I am there to try to quantify the risk to that person as an individual and to let them make an adult, grown-up decision to motivate themselves to do something about their condition. If it is appropriate, I will signpost them in certain directions.

289. We often see advertisements on television or in other media that tell people to consult their GP about taking up exercise. It should be the other way round: they should tell people who are not exercising to get a letter from their GP advising them to sit down for six or eight hours a day and stare at a TV.

290. We are keen to lobby for proven interventions, not just in the consultation environment but in a broader community sense. As Dr Tohani said, it is often the simple things that make the difference. If you cycle to work, where do your store your bike? If you store it somewhere dodgy you can come back and find only the frame there. You can get more exercise carrying the frame home to get new handlebars and wheels, but that is a one-off manoeuvre. [Laughter.]

291. I was struck, reading some of the papers, to find that dress code at work is an issue. To dress as we are today, very elegantly and neatly, does not lend itself to cycling or jogging into work. I am not saying that we should arrive to work dressed in Lycra. [Laughter.] I would clear the surgery in 10 minutes or less.

292. Education, in the classical sense, is very important, and that goes back to the interdepartmental aspect of the issue. It is about motivating children to exercise and getting them used to it. I was struck by a paper from Finland, where they have the concept of a joyful model of sports schools teaching for 4- to 13-year-olds. I asked myself how joyful my sports education at that age was. It was not; a tiny minority of us rushed about and had great fun, but most did not.

293. Children can have a tremendous enabling role in the family. If the kids are coming home buzzed up about simple exercise activities, such as walking to school or walking in the park, it can have an effect. I do not mean high-end stuff, such as gym membership and high-impact sport. This is basic stuff, and it is a great lever for change. Much the same happened in the lobby against smoking. Kids were the single most effective activists that we saw in primary care. Parents arrived in the surgery and, whether it was an excuse or a reality, they said that the kids were giving off that mummy and daddy were smoking and that something horrible was going happen to them. That is often why parents presented themselves at surgery.

294. One other aspect that has surfaced in my reading is the whole concept of exercise on prescription. Initially, I thought that it was a good idea, and that we should give patients dockets which they could bring along to the leisure centre and do some training-room induction or get subsidised swimming or something. However, the evidence that that works is pretty ropey. If there is a one-to-one arrangement, where a personal trainer mentors an individual for weeks and months, maybe you will get through to patients — by which I mean that they will be supported to achieve their aims. However, one study showed that, for every 17 patients referred for exercise, only one carried the course through to its completion and continued exercising. Presumably, those were people who raised the issue during consultation or seemed amenable to the idea.

295. I then made the further mistake of contacting a few of my GP colleagues to ask about their experience of the various local initiatives, which, on paper, have been very noble and logical. I was taken aback by the negative feedback I received from my colleagues. They were not cynical or dismissive of the process. Far from it; they would love to find a solution to all the health downsides that go with lack of exercise. However, patients — and all of us in this room, me included, are patients — do not stick with things. It is very difficult to maintain motivation unless there is a broad social thrust in that direction.

296. We will probably talk, in due course, about other countries and areas where there have been successes. Perhaps that is the territory that we should be staring at right now. We must ask ourselves how we can pick the best practice used in other places which does not cost a lot and yet can motivate us all to exercise.

297. The Chairperson: Thank you for the presentation. I am going to bring in the Deputy Chairperson in a wee second. I recently saw a bicycle shed at a government building, at which there were no bicycles but which was used as a smoking area. [Laughter.]

298. Mr McNarry: Where was it?

299. The Chairperson: I said that I was going to bring the Deputy Chairperson into the discussion. I point no elbows at him.

300. Mr McNarry: You have a very shallow life. Are you going round looking at these bicycle sheds? What else would you do in a bicycle shed?

301. The Chairperson: I was stunned.

302. The Committee could look at how many government Departments are taking up the bike-to-work scheme. I am told that very few government agencies, including health trusts, encourage their employees to cycle in that way. We should investigate that.

303. Mr McNarry: I would normally have been behind the bicycle shed; that is part of growing up. However, we will leave that for another day. It might affect my health in later years.

304. I listened to what you all said, and thank you for your professional approach to this. Dr Tohani mentioned the school estates. I have a private Member’s Bill sitting with the Education Department. That is what it is doing, sitting. It proposes the opening up of school sports facilities after hours, during holidays and so on. In that way, we could take advantage of implementing good healthy leisure programmes. That Bill has now advanced to a working group, which is preparing a report for the Minister to try to take on board its ideas and others. Are you aware of that working group?

305. Dr Tohani: No, I was not actually aware of it. However, I undertook my early training in the United States, and the schools there are used after hours for community purposes.

306. Mr McNarry: It might be interesting if I was to make the BMA aware of that group and the details of who is handling it. The BMA’s input would certainly help.

307. Moving on, much has been made of cuts in funding and particularly the extensive reduction in the health budget. How do you envisage those cuts impacting on those programmes that have been, or will be, designed to combine sport and healthy living?

308. Dr Tohani: The current problem with obesity is not going to go away, and it must be addressed through the provision of health services. Any initiative undertaken in that area will have a future benefit in reducing some of the health funding requirements. Over 30% of people are currently obese. The associated chronic diseases linked to that obesity will also not go away, and we will require healthcare funding to support the current level of activity.

309. There will be a future dividend if we start investing now. However, if we do not do that we will require even more money in the next 10 years to address these issues. What we do now will help us in the next 10 years.

310. Mr McNarry: That is a very important point, and very helpful to what the Committee will include in its report on the inquiry. Where funding is concerned, the priorities are the devil in the small print. From the evidence that we have taken so far, we can see that there is something that sport can contribute to the obesity problem. Has the BMA made representations to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure or the Health Department to highlight its concern that obesity should be treated as a priority? If you have, how have you got on?

311. Dr Tohani: The BMA has continually highlighted the shortfall in the funding of health services and asked the Government to ensure that adequate funds are in place to provide the current level of service, let alone any future issues that will be encountered. We need more money in the Province to tackle some of the health issues that we already have. The BMA has been very clear in its thinking in that respect.

312. Mr McNarry: Are you saying that if we do not address the problem of obesity now, we will require a great deal more money when, and if, that money becomes available in the future?

313. Dr Tohani: If we do not address the problem of inactivity now we will certainly require a lot more money in the future.

314. Mr McNarry: Will the BMA supply the Committee with some facts and figures on that?

315. Dr Tohani: We can certainly look at what will happen if the levels of obesity continue at the same rate.

316. Mr McNarry: It is a significant thing that you are saying, and it is all very well for the Committee to hear you saying it. However, I would like to see it backed up with some evidence that the Committee can include in its report.

317. Dr Tohani: We will try to get you some figures on that.

318. Mr McNarry: If you could change government policy, what one thing would have the biggest impact on increasing participation in sport and physical activity?

319. Dr Tohani: We should concentrate our activities on young children as a priority grouping, and ensure that they are taking part in an adequate level of exercise and sports activity. That will have a beneficial effect on their health.

320. I asked my colleagues what one action could be taken to improve the situation. In England, there is a problem with school playgrounds being sold to property developers. Therefore, one action would be to stop selling those grounds to private developers.

321. Mr McNarry: Does that include golf clubs? [Laughter.]

322. The Chairperson: Thanks very much, David.

323. Mr McCarthy: That is an interesting question that we could talk about.

324. Thank you for the presentation. You said that half an hour of exercise a day would be sufficient. I am a keen cyclist and spend two and a half or three hours in the saddle on Saturday and Sunday. Does that make up for not doing exercise during the week?

325. Dr Tohani: You can divide the half an hour of exercise over the course of a day. For example, you can have a brisk walk for 10 minutes, three times a day, or you can go swimming. There are a multitude of things that you can do.

326. Mr McCarthy: So my three hours on a Saturday and Sunday will keep me going all through the week.

327. Dr Tohani: No, exercise should be on a regular basis; at least five days a week.

328. Mr McCarthy: Does the BMA have any information on other regions — you mentioned Finland — that are doing the thing right and from whom we could learn?

329. Dr Tohani: There are a number of things. We have looked into what other regions are doing. For instance, the Polish Federation of Food Industry and the chief sanitary inspectors have a keep-fit programme in almost all Polish schools.

330. Denmark has a programme for testing aerobic fitness in schools, under the aegis of the Danish Heart Foundation. There is a programme in the East Midlands that provides a platform on food, physical activity and health. The University College London centre for transport studies is researching and trying to understand children’s play and the role of physical activity. There is a European association of private catering companies which promotes healthy lifestyles in the workplace, including physical exercise.

331. In the US, the National Institute on Aging gathers important evidence on the value of vigorous activity in old age. That is a very important area, because people are living longer. When you hit 40, you should not stop exercising; there are many benefits of exercise in old age and for those who are physically disabled. Therefore, there are a number of things going on in the world that we can tap into.

332. Mr McCarthy: It is important that we learn from the examples that you quoted and others.

333. Dr Nugent: There are a couple of specific ones that I have picked up on. The example set by the Finns is quoted extensively; they have good evidence to show that their initiatives have made a difference. In one of the papers I read, I was struck by the fact that they did lots of scoring of people before and after exercise programmes. One of the analysis scales that they used was called the “cynical distrust scale”, which was a wonderful name. [Laughter.]

334. The Finns have it in legislation that there must be interdepartmental discussion about any new development of whether it will have proper access, such as walkways and cycling areas.

335. The Canadian approach is also very impressive. The Public Health Agency of Canada website has information on exercise and physical activity for all age groups and all types of people; it is not just for athletes. It provides excellent examples and vignettes of what individuals can do, as well as very useful links to other organisations. It would be well worth looking at that website.

336. Dr Tohani: There are some other examples. The principal of an integrated school in Armagh asked parents to drop their children at the end of the road so that they can safely walk up to the school, which is about a quarter of a mile. That is a good practice. I asked how effective the programme was. I was told that the middle classes used it well but that parents from the lower socio-economic groups still drove right up to the school to drop off their children. The message must be targeted to all members of the community rather than simply to people who are better educated, who may be more likely to take advantage of the message. We must consider how people who are disadvantaged can be encouraged to take up the message.

337. Mr K Robinson: I was going to ask what governments can do to encourage more people to start walking and cycling as a means of transport, but you have answered most of those questions.

338. You have brought me on to the topic of culture, which is what I really wanted to ask about. You mentioned Finland; the culture there is homogenous, and the people tend to do what government and society wants. We are a disparate culture and, if we are told to do something, we will do the opposite.

339. You talked about the importance of healthy diets. Children may have a healthy diet in their primary schools, but, if they live in one of the socio-economic districts that you described, they might pass a Chinese restaurant, an Indian restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a Subway-type thing in a petrol station and any other type of food that you can mention. All of that unravels what the school has done. How do you, as medical professionals, get the message across to society, including parents and businesses? Steps have been taken to deal with tobacco, and I feel that we are moving towards steps being taken to deal with alcohol. There is no sense in curing those two problems if we are stuffing our kids full of fast food at an early stage in their lives.

340. Children do not get the physical opportunities that you would like them to have. When I was a schoolmaster, I was able to provide those opportunities, but schools are now under such pressure that cuts have to be made somewhere. The children spend half an hour getting ready for PE and another half an hour getting sorted out and back into class, so it is easy to say that it should be scrubbed in favour of maths or something else.

341. How do you get that cultural message across to us as administrators and legislators, to the parents, to the schools and to the business community? Fast-food outlets and off-licences are not located on the Malone Road or in the other salubrious areas of Belfast. They are right in the heart of the communities that suffer already from social disadvantage. What are you going to do for us? Is there a way out of that maze?

342. Dr Nugent: It is not easy, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Addressing the problem relies on the entire range of services. One cannot stop advertising and fast-food outlets, and one cannot legislate against some of the things that you mentioned.

343. Mr K Robinson: Alcohol and tobacco have health warnings. Do we need to start putting health warnings on certain types of food — other than the little ones in the small print that I cannot read?

344. Dr Nugent: Health warnings might also be required for cars and lifts. A good example is that a GP colleague gave exercise prescriptions to two patients who then walked out of his office and took the lift to the ground floor. The issue is so basic, yet what can be done about it? It goes back to education and challenging some of what we take for granted. As Dr Tohani said, simple messages such as walking an extra quarter of a mile to school are important. That can involve escorted walks from school to the bus depot, rather than the children being picked up at the front door. All of that will happen by a drip feed, rather than by gigantic leaps.

345. Mr K Robinson: Where does the pressure come from? Is it through you, the medical profession, or is it through us, the politicians? Is there some other part of society where that thrust has to begin and be sustained?

346. Dr Tohani: It has to be an integrated approach, not telling schools to introduce more physical activity when they do not have the equipment or an area in which those activities can take place or the roads are not safe for children to walk to school. In one study, parents were asked why they do not let their children walk to school, and many of them said that they were worried about their safety because of the traffic and the way that they have to cross roads and the school’s location. We need to look at all of those areas; there is no one thing that will not address this. It is about giving the knowledge to people and empowering them and taking on board their views on where schools should be located and what services need to be developed. I am afraid that at present, we tell society what is good for it, rather than it asking. If demand were built from the bottom up, more people would respond to the challenge.

347. Mr K Robinson: I just want to challenge a point what you have said there. Craigavon is a planned city that has walkways and cycle ways. Unfortunately, the Committee does not have a member from Craigavon at the moment. From a public safety point of view, I wonder what the uptake is of regular use of those walkways and cycle ways. I suspect that it is fairly limited.

348. Dr Tohani: I actually lived in Craigavon. I was a good socialist and I always wanted to live among the masses. [Laughter.]

349. Mr K Robinson: You could be walking us into trouble.

350. Dr Tohani: The thing is that, although it has cycle ways and walkways, they are too far away from the shops. The shopping precinct is a recent phenomenon. Prior to that, there was nothing. You might as well have been living in a Third World jungle somewhere when the city was designed initially. There was no regular bus service in Craigavon at that time. When people were encouraged to move there, they did so because they were getting paid. When they had spent the money, they took the plumbing with them as well. In a way, you cannot blame those people, because neither society nor the community were ever involved in the planning of the city. That was done from the top down. It looked wonderful to the planners on a piece of paper. However, I do not think that much thought was given to the people who would live there.

351. Lord Browne: Your presentation has succeeded in making me feel a little guilty about my lack of exercise, at least for a little while. I am the right person to ask this question. Your submission does not include any details of what advice doctors in Northern Ireland have been instructed to give to patients who are overweight or obese. Do you believe that the advice that they have been instructed to give is adequate?

352. In Belfast, the Grove Wellbeing Centre has opened. It combines leisure facilities with a medical centre. Do you believe that that sort of place achieves greater success rates than a similarly funded, modern, conventional leisure centre?

353. Dr Nugent: To come back to GP-patient consultation; if someone arrives at a health centre who has medical problems that stem from either obesity or lack of exercise, that is relatively easy to tackle. You can address the patient straightforwardly on that issue. When the patient arrives, we check his or her height, weight, body mass index, cholesterol, thyroid function and blood sugar. In particular, we target folks in the over-50 age group with regard to established diseases that develop from their lifestyle. Then, it is a question of trying to see what that individual patient’s actual motivation. We cannot and dare not nanny people. It is highly disrespectful to do that sort of stuff. It loses the patient’s confidence. Certainly, however, you can raise the issue.

354. At present, through our local and direct enhanced service, practices are encouraged to check patients’ weights and measures, for want of a better term. However, even that simple act raises the issue. Why are they going into the nurse’s room to have their height and weight checked? Why are they being asked to have blood tests? It is because if someone is shown to have a body mass index that is above a certain level, the risk of certain diseases increases. That opens the door to the consultation. Therefore, it is a combination of trying to enlighten patients while, at the same time, very much being guided by them as to what they want.

355. Dr Tohani: If an active lifestyle starts in early childhood, it is much easier to keep up. I have seen people who are grossly obese and need surgical intervention, such as banding. Even when people have that kind of condition and you tell them that they must diet and take regular exercise, they are reluctant to do so. They think that the easiest option is to go for banding. Luckily, nowadays, patients are told that they must be motivated in all directions before the procedure can be done.

356. It is very difficult to change patients’ behaviour when they are settled into a certain mode. That includes me: if someone were to tell me that I should walk for half an hour each day, that would take a great deal of effort. However, if I had been doing it regularly when I was growing up, it probably would not be so difficult.

357. Lord Browne: Playing snooker and darts when I was young did not help me. [Laughter.]

358. Mr McNarry: I am intrigued by your answer. Perhaps I am missing something with my GP, who has never addressed that with me. In a consultation, there is a time to get in and to get out. My GP has never taken my weight, and never asked me this, that and the other. Thankfully, I do not visit him very often. Nevertheless, there is a flip side to what you say: that GPs are part of a business and that they are time-bound. Is there is an open approach across the board from GPs that should make you aware of what height you are, what weight you should be, where you are going, what you are doing wrong and so on, and that GPs discuss that with their patients?

359. Dr Nugent: I could not possibly comment on the interaction you have with your GP. However, yes, there is such an approach. It is best practice; it is preventative medicine. There is lots of evidence to show that intervening makes a difference and will help to reinforce the relationship between GP and patient. For the last four or five years, there has been enhanced funding to encourage practices to provide that. However, it is up to the practice to decide whether to take it on. They may decide that their workload does not permit it.

360. Mr McNarry: So it may not be a priority within a practice?

361. Dr Nugent: It is up to the board to direct the enhanced service and to provide it, but very often that does not happen.

362. Dr Tohani: Quite a few GPs are doing that. GPs will look at the history of any new patients who come to join the practice. They will consider the patient’s history, vaccination history and all sorts of things. For patients of a certain age, they will conduct five-yearly examinations.

363. Mr McNarry: That is, as you say, good practice. It would be interesting to know how many GPs do not practice it.

364. Mr Leonard: When you were speaking, I was going to ask about GP outreach and what you can do to help. I am more than interested in the coalface. However, the more I listened, the more I thought that it was going to be very difficult. The last conversation added to that.

365. I am interested in the broader societal thrust of which you spoke. We have investigated it to some extent, but can we drill down a bit more? What picture do you have in your mind of that broad societal thrust? Perhaps I am asking “how long is a piece of string?” I do not want to hear about the interdepartmental work that it will involve; we can all come out with that. Where and how do you think that broad societal thrust can be created? The more I am involved in it, the more practical, simple and straightforward it will be to get people to buy into those three categories and help our cause. You used the phrase, but where, in practical terms, do you see the building blocks of that?

366. Dr Nugent: One of the practical areas to look at is sport. We acknowledge that there is a place for elite sport and the hero worship of the local team. However, a blind eye is turned to everyone sitting on their bottoms on the terraces and elsewhere. They do not move unless someone scores.

367. We need to get the message across. As the Finns say, it is trying to have a positive experience and a feeling about basic exercise. We must keep it simple. When people think of exercise, they think of gym memberships, going to the leisure centre and having to drive half an hour to get there. That is not what I mean. I am talking about going for a walk when you get back from work in the evening; nothing more complicated. We need to get that message across every time an issue surfaces and build it into the debate.

368. Mr Leonard: May I cut in there? I do not mean to be ignorant. I am just thinking that, in terms of that simple message, we tend to think that there has to be a message for children of school age, a message for the over-60s and a message for whatever. I am genuinely not fishing for the answer that I prefer. Is there a message for all that can be mediated for different groups in different ways?

369. Dr Nugent: If some public-relations type could get across the message that a chair is an extremely dangerous piece of equipment —

370. Mr Leonard: I had scribbled down “Ban the chair”.

371. Dr Nugent: It should be something along those lines; we should keep it simple.

372. Mr P J Bradley: Is PE compulsory in primary schools?

373. Dr Tohani: It is a compulsory part of the primary school curriculum. I can only base my information on a conversation that I had with a school principal. Even some nursery schools have exercise programmes.

374. Mr P J Bradley: I agree that we should be targeting schools. When I was chairman of Newry and Mourne District Council, my deputy was a small chap, but very heavy. We launched a healthy eating week, and when I stepped on the scales I was told that I had to lose three or four pounds. When he stepped on the scales, the nurse told him that he would have to grow 18 inches. [Laughter.]

375. The Chairperson: I thank the BMA team for their presentation and for the engagement. We will reflect on what you have said in the context of our inquiry. We are very grateful.

11 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Mr Dominic Bradley
Lord Browne
Mr Billy Leonard
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Mrs Geraldine Compton
Mrs Louise Coyle
Mrs Tiziania O’Hara

Women’s Centres Regional Partnership

Mr Gerry Kelly
Mrs Siobhan Weir

SkillsActive Northern Ireland

Mr Philip Faithfull
Mr Jim Rose

Northern Ireland Local Government Association

1. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I welcome the representatives from the Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP). I invite Louise Coyle to introduce her team and outline their various roles in the women’s sector.

2. Mrs Louise Coyle (Women’s Centre Regional Partnership): I am the policy officer for the Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network (NIRWN), which is one of the four partners in the partnership. Tiziania O’Hara is the WCRP co-ordinator, and Geraldine Compton is the co-ordinator of the Waterside Women’s Centre and is here to give you a flavour of what happens in women’s centres and how they can benefit from sporting and physical activity. The Committee has received our written submission, and I will provide a wee summary of that after which members can ask questions, which I hope we will be able to answer.

3. There are four lead regional and subregional women’s organisations, and we link 14 front line women’s organisations across Northern Ireland. The partnership emerged from the report of the review group on women’s organisations providing support and services to disadvantaged areas. The four key lead partners of the partnership are the Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), the Women’s Support Network (WSN), NIRWN and the Women’s Centre in Derry.

4. The 14 women’s centres are spread across Northern Ireland, with seven in the greater Belfast and Lisburn areas, four in the north-west and three in Dungannon, Magherafelt and Craigavon. Those centres work together to create an infrastructure that will support community-based women’s organisations across Northern Ireland.

5. The WCRP tackles inequality and disadvantage experienced by women and supports community development in the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities. We work for policy change, which is why we sent a submission to the Committee for its inquiry. The women’s centres and women’s groups have, for many years, considered and implemented solutions that increase women’s participation in sport and physical activity. My colleagues and I want to share with the Committee our knowledge and evidence of what works for women.

6. Women often experience more barriers to participation in public and social life than men do, including in sport and physical activity. The WCRP initiated the women’s learning partnership project as a result of the knowledge and experience that the women’s centres and women’s groups and organisations have gained over the years on how women prefer to engage in physical activity. The women’s learning partnership project is currently funded by the Big Lottery Fund, under the Live and Learn programme. The project is funded for five years and is all about improving physical and mental health in target disadvantaged areas. The project aims to improve the physical and mental health of women, and we have detailed how we deliver that in our written submission. There is a range of sport and physical activity provision, which is important.

7. The women’s learning partnership project deliberately set out to engage with hard-to-reach women. The views of those women helped to shape the nature of the proposal that we made and the development of the partnership, so there was a lot of discussion and research with the people who we wanted to benefit from the project before it was ever designed and funded. We wanted to get those women to participate and to enable them to influence the project’s future development through the project monitoring and evaluation that takes place throughout the five years of the project — it is constantly monitored.

8. There is a prospectus that contains a wealth of provision, from dancercise to the Golden Girl’s health club, the Mammy Programme, chair-based activity, line dancing and aquarobics. That range of activities clearly indicates that the WCRP is cognisant of the multiplicity of roles that women have. Older women, mothers and those with mobility issues are all catered for and are, in fact, actively targeted, as you can tell from the names of some of the programmes.

9. The ethos of the women’s centre is to reduce the barriers to women’s participation and to provide a holistic and supportive environment. That is the key to what we do. The other courses and activities delivered by the women’s centres, such as essential skills, personal self-confidence and self-awareness, are ideally placed to recruit the kind of people whom we want to engage in physical sport and activity, including the marginalised and those least likely to participate in other areas of their lives.

10. In the research that was carried out before the project began, and through the work that women’s organisations do in general, lack of childcare was identified as being the biggest barrier that women face. It has been identified in recent research as the primary barrier to women’s engagement. The women’s centres delivering the women’s learning partnership project provide free on-site childcare for those beneficiaries participating in the project, and, indeed, in many other activities and courses that we offer.

11. The women’s learning partnership project ensures the improvement of the physical and mental health of local women in Northern Ireland, and in our written submission we have detailed all the ways in which we are doing that.

12. I refer the Committee to the gender equality strategy, which recognises that treating men and women the same — that is, being gender neutral — is not the solution to eradicating gender inequality. The strategy states that:

“Treating men and women the same will not ensure equal outcomes because of the different experiences of women and men and the different economic and social positions occupied by them.”

It commits the Government to apply gender mainstreaming when implementing the strategy. To tackle gender inequalities effectively we need to address the structures and systems that are the root causes of gender inequality.

13. Gender mainstreaming challenges decision-makers, like the Committee, to question the assumption that policies and programmes affect everyone in the same way. We in the WCRP argue that women’s experience of participation is different. We thank the Committee for reading our report and for asking us for a submission. We ask you to take account of the multiplicity of roles that women have. For example, the experience of an older disabled woman with caring responsibilities will be different from that of somebody else. Trying to engage in sport and physical activity poses a challenge to that person.

14. We urge the Committee to take into account the different experiences of women and the barriers that they may face when trying to engage in sport and physical activity. If we have one thing to say to you this morning it is that our experience is that women are not reluctant to engage in sport and physical activity. Our programme is completely oversubscribed. Tiziania has brought some figures that bear that out. Women are not reluctant to participate when the right environment and conditions are created and when every attempt is made to remove the barriers that women face.

15. The Chairperson: What is the one change in government policy that you believe would have the biggest impact on increasing participation levels among women?

16. Mrs Coyle: The single biggest change would be policy-makers understanding that equality does not mean gender neutrality. Women are not reluctant to engage when the right environments exist — quite the reverse. If policy-makers made that change in their thinking, it would make a difference for women.

17. Mr D Bradley: Thank you very much for your presentation. You mentioned that childcare is one of the biggest barriers to women participating in sport and physical activity. Obviously, the provision of good quality childcare on a wider basis would break that barrier down. What other barriers are preventing women from participating?

18. Mrs Coyle: There are many barriers. I will pass over to Tiziania who can tell you more about that. Perhaps you can forgive us our shuffling of papers, but we have lots of facts and figures to give to the Committee.

19. Mrs Tiziania O’Hara (Women’s Centres Regional Partnership): We did some interesting research into the barriers to women’s participation in sports, and we looked particularly at the barriers that exist for women from disadvantaged communities. We believe that being a woman and coming from a disadvantaged community has a double effect on the way in which one participates in civic life. That research, which is referred to in our submission, is called ‘Women Living in Disadvantaged Communities: Barriers to Participation’. It was written by Dr Helen McLaughlin, with the support of the Department for Social Development (DSD), and it was commissioned by the WCRP. It was important for us to articulate the barriers that exist. If the Committee wishes, we can provide members with copies of the research, which members may find very useful.

20. The research showed that the primary barrier is childcare and that the childcare needs of disadvantaged women need to be addressed in a very specific manner. Childcare must be affordable and accessible; in particular, it must be accessible in the locality in which the activities take place. However, childcare is only one aspect of the caring responsibilities that women in Northern Ireland have, and those caring responsibilities can last a lifetime. When women are young, they may care for their siblings; when they are mothers, they care for their children; and, even in later life, women may care for their elderly parents, a member of their family who is sick or their grandchildren. Therefore, the caring responsibility applies not only to childcare. Physical activity is part of the development of a person. To engage women in physical activity or in any meaningful activity that helps their development, as much help as possible must be provided. That barrier must be lowered completely.

21. As you can imagine from the location of our women’s centres, we work with women from disadvantaged areas. Being part of a disadvantaged community is a disadvantage in itself. However, being a woman in a disadvantaged community creates an added economic disadvantage. Those women belong to households with very limited disposable income and, because many women are not the earner of what little income is brought into the household, there is reluctance on their part to spend that income on themselves. Women prioritise the needs of the family. The Committee must understand that that is why even a small charge may be a barrier for women who are dealing with an already stretched budget. I agree that some leisure centres have reduced their charges to address that issue. However, even a small charge is an issue for the women who come to our centres. That is why the Live and Learn programme, as with most of our courses, is free of charge.

22. Another barrier is lack of confidence and self-esteem. Women from disadvantaged communities may have personal histories of bad experiences and that may affect their confidence to take up new experiences, such as going for a swim in a new leisure centre. Also, those women experience the historical disadvantage that may have affected community self-esteem and confidence. We need to address that barrier. One reason that our women’s centres are so successful is that we take into consideration that lack of confidence and tailor our courses accordingly. When a woman comes to a centre, we cater for her lack of confidence and try to build up her capacity to engage in activities. Our courses meet the real needs of women at the stage at which they are at, and we then develop with them. The skills that those women learn are a by-product of our work. Our main achievement is helping women to increase their confidence, because confident citizens engage better in society.

23. There are a couple of other problems. I mentioned that a lack of transport is a problem for women who live in rural areas, but it is also a problem for women who live in urban areas, as public transport can be expensive. Another problem is ill-health. When we are considering which activities to offer, we must be mindful of the fact that ill-health can have an impact on the way in which people engage. Historically, ill-health has been prevalent among those from some disadvantaged areas of Northern Ireland, perhaps because of the legacy of the conflict, high levels of stress or high levels of depression. Another problem is the multiplicity of disadvantage. Women from ethnic minorities or those with a disability face more barriers than other women, and we must overcome those to engage with them.

24. Mrs Coyle: In summary, many women face more than one barrier. For example, some women may experience poverty, a lack of childcare and a lack of mobility, especially if they are older. Therefore, there is sometimes more than one barrier at work.

25. Lord Browne: You gave an excellent account of the barriers that women face, especially those relating to childcare responsibilities, age and disability. However, do you not agree that many men in today’s society have childcare responsibilities and face those same barriers? The excellent programmes that you have developed should also be developed for men.

26. Mrs Coyle: We are here to represent women’s centres. That has been our focus today. When we talk about equality, we are not talking about preferential treatment for women. Rather, we are talking about the need to approach the issue from a different angle. We are certainly not trying to put women above men, because that would bring us back to square one.

27. Mr McNarry: I wish to pick up on what Mrs O’Hara said. There is a major problem in my constituency of Strangford, which is only down the road. Is it worth considering a programme for women that offers a range of sporting and physical activities as well as childcare provision? In other words, could a programme be developed that joins both options together?

28. Mrs Geraldine Compton (Women’s Centres Regional Partnership): I am the manager of the Waterside Women’s Centre in Derry. Our programme is called Fit for Life, and it delivers a range of courses and physical activities while providing childcare at the centre at the same time. The women who participate in the courses come to the centre, drop off their children at the crèche and then go to Lisnagelvin leisure complex, because the centre obviously does not have the necessary facilities. The courses offered include beginners’ and improvers’ swimming lessons, aquarobics, t’ai chi, yoga and line dancing. The women attend classes while their children are looked after in the crèche.

29. Mr McNarry: I am glad to hear that, because that is a key issue. I hope that you are not going to embarrass me now when I ask about the programme: I do not want to join it; I just want to know whether it extends to my constituency of Strangford.

30. Mrs O’Hara: Yes, I think that it does. I think that Ballybeen Women’s Centre is located in the constituency of Strangford.

31. Mr McNarry: That centre is just about within the boundaries of the Strangford constituency. However, that area will go back to being part of the East Belfast constituency.

32. Mrs Coyle: We can only share with the Committee what we know about the centres that exist now, and they were set up and funded by DSD. If we have one message for the Committee, it is that this works. Of course, it would be great if we could have centres everywhere.

33. Mr McNarry: I am clearly hearing that. That is what is interesting to me. I hear what you are saying about the centre in Londonderry. However, I know that there are no such centres outside Ballybeen.

34. Mrs O’Hara: We want more centres to be opened.

35. Mrs Coyle: Absolutely; of course we do.

36. Mrs O’Hara: We have a lot of experience of women’s centres. We have been managing them for the past 20 years. Our experience cannot be disregarded.

37. Mr McNarry: You sound very formidable. I will leave it there. [Laughter.]

38. Mr Leonard: As you will appreciate, we must consider how to get the message across to all sectors. However, I am particularly impressed by your work with the disadvantaged and the marginalised. In your experience, what big messages do we need to send out to engage more women in club-related sports and activity and to engage the casual person?

39. Mrs Coyle: Are you asking how we advertise and try to engage with people?

40. Mr Leonard: Yes.

41. Mrs Compton: Our women’s centre has 16 or 18 years’ experience of working with and engaging with women, particularly those from disadvantaged areas. The Fit for Life programme is totally oversubscribed for physical activities.

42. Mr Leonard: Is that because it is called Fit for Life or because you have used leaflets to advertise locally at a grass roots level?

43. Mrs Compton: Yes, we do that. We advertise the courses in all local shops, church bulletins and doctors’ surgeries, and we are well-known and well-established in the area in any case. We have offered some physical activities with the minor funding that we have received in the past. However, the five-year funding for the Live and Learn programme has been a tremendous boost, because such long periods of funding were previously unheard of. We knew that the need existed. People had been telling us that during the schemes that we set up with the minor funding, such as learn-to-swim courses and yoga.

44. The programme started in September. Between September and Christmas, 118 women enrolled in courses. Since January, 181 women have enrolled, and we are providing 10 different physical activities. That shows the level of interest and proves that we are reaching women who want to engage in such activities. As we said earlier, those women are from disadvantaged areas; they are not the kind of women who normally go to the gym to work out. The women that have enrolled have put their family ahead of their own needs but are now participating in our courses. I am so pleased with how well the programme has taken off.

45. Mrs O’Hara: I was involved in writing the business plan that secured the funding for the Live and Learn programme from the Big Lottery Fund, and we had a specific engagement strategy across the region. We take a face-to-face and door-to-door approach. We offer coffee mornings and taster sessions and send out leaflets to give women the opportunity to sample what the programme is about. That experience will allow women to build up the confidence to come back to the centres.

46. Mr Leonard: Will you forward the engagement strategy to the Committee? That issue will arise in the future.

47. Mrs O’Hara: Yes, we have a comprehensive business plan.

48. Mr K Robinson: Thanks for the overview that you have given us this morning; your enthusiasm has shone through. Your submission refers to:

“preventing women from relapsing into negative behaviours and attitudes towards their mental and physical health in the post programme period.”

You mentioned that 118 people are enrolled in the programme at Lisnagelvin leisure centre. What contact do you have with local councils throughout Northern Ireland? You obviously use leisure centres, so I wonder whether there is complementarity with what is already in place.

49. I am a member of Newtownabbey Borough Council, and we run a variety of schemes to try to encourage participation among the same folk from disadvantaged areas who you try to encourage. I want to be sure that all the ducks are in a row and that we are not competing with each other. By focusing on women and specific areas, are you targeting a different market than a council does through its wider leisure programmes? Do you complement what is already there? Do you reach a group beyond the group that we reach, or are we tripping over each other? Are we making the best use of time and resources and getting the best possible bang for our buck?

50. Mrs Coyle: Absolutely. Women tell us that they are not already using those facilities. Women can be intimidated when they go to leisure centres on their own, but women’s centres provide a supportive environment. Five or ten people can learn to swim or do yoga together somewhere where there are not people in snazzy Lycra who look like they do not really need to be there. We provide support, and women can hide their cellulite by huddling up together. I will hand over to Geraldine, who deals with councils.

51. Mrs Compton: I agree entirely with Louise. We also have additional support mechanisms, such as childcare facilities. We have a very good relationship with the staff in Lisnagelvin leisure complex. Tutors are very important, and we have very good female tutors who are tuned into women’s needs. They work at a pace that suits the women, and they are very experienced at engaging well with women. Our courses are held at times that suit women. Women lead busy lives, and they have to be finished classes in time to collect their kids from school, and so on. Our aquarobics and learn-to-swim classes, for example, are held around lunchtime, when the swimming pool is quiet. Therefore, the women are not intimidated by fabulous swimmers who are doing 20 lengths while they are struggling to put their toes into the water.

52. Mr K Robinson: Essentially, Geraldine, you are saying that you reach a different group than we do in the mainstream.

53. Mrs Compton: Yes.

54. Mr K Robinson: The core question is: having reached that group, how do you prevent those women relapsing? How do you keep them engaged in physical activity after they have completed one of your courses? Do they progress to become part of the Lycra set? Do they move from the unsure beginners’ group to the more competent and confident group?

55. Mrs Compton: Maybe some of them make that progression, but I do not think so. I do not think that they have that mentality.

56. Mr K Robinson: How do you prevent them slipping back?

57. Mrs Compton: We do that by offering a variety of courses that go beyond physical activities. Once people come to the centres and realise the support that they get, they stay with us. However, we do not want to be too prescriptive in what we offer. We want the women to tell us what they want to do.

58. Mr K Robinson: You have stolen my thunder by answering the question that I was going to ask next, if allowed to do so by the Chairperson. After you have given the women confidence and exposed them to a range of activities, does there come a time when they want to let go of your hand and do something for themselves?

59. Mrs Compton: We want to encourage women to do that. That is the point of what we are about. We are about empowering women and giving them confidence and self-esteem so that they do not have to rely on us in the long term.

60. Mrs Coyle: Tiziania deals with all the women’s centres, so she has an input into that.

61. Mrs O’Hara: I have a piece of information in which Mr Robinson may be interested. The Live and Learn project is planned to last for five years, and we have put in place a strong evaluation process for it. We want to measure the impact of our way of working. I suggest that if you keep watching, we will come back to you with some real evidence after five years.

62. Mr K Robinson: We will watch this space.

63. Mr McCarthy: Thank you for your contribution. I commend you on the work that you have been doing and that you continue to do. You said that the Big Lottery funding was for five years. Is there any guarantee that, after those five years, further funding will be available? Is sufficient government funding, as distinct from lottery funding, available? You do an enormous amount of work in so many ways. Following on from the question that my Strangford constituency colleague asked, if you had more government funding, would you be able to spread your work to all constituencies, including Strangford, which includes the lower Ards Peninsula?

64. Mrs Coyle: We would like every woman to have equality of opportunity, no matter what constituency they live in. That is a priority for us, and we are working towards achieving equality. However, the resources to do that are simply not there. The lottery fund does not fund the WCRP; it funds the partnership between sport and physical activity and mental health. That leads on to Mr Robinson’s point about the complementarity of what is offered. It is important that people get support for their mental health as well as for their physical health. One leads to another, and they are each part of a circle. As you know, if a person’s physical well-being is better, their mental well-being improves. If women make that link, they may not become gym bunnies, but they will know that even going for a walk is good for their mental health.

65. You asked whether sufficient government funding is available. The answer is no. In general, we feel that there is a lack of government funding for the projects that currently exist, never mind funding to increase women’s participation. We are unaware of any long-term strategic funding, although, as Geraldine mentioned, five years of funding is a real luxury in the community and voluntary sector. Such funding lets us have the longitudinal evidence that Tiziania mentioned that five years of a project can allow. We know that it works, and Geraldine has been working on it for years. The fact that the funding and evaluation will last for five years means that, at the end of that period, we can provide evidence that the project works.

66. Mrs O’Hara: The one Department that has helped us is the Department for Social Development. It has funded the partnership.

67. Mr McCarthy: Is there any guarantee that that funding will continue? It is essential. We are all talking about investing in health and in the future, but, if that funding were to come to an end, all your work would be gone.

68. Mrs O’Hara: There is an argument that there should be cross-departmental help for a structure such as ours. It is an issue not only for sport but for mental health and other areas. Therefore, cross-departmental help would be welcome.

69. Mr McNarry: I was interested in making my point earlier, because, unfortunately, we have many disadvantaged women in the Strangford constituency. We also have the Lycra set, so there is a combination in the constituency. Given that there is a gap in services in the area that Kieran and I represent, are you open for us to talk to you about that?

70. Mrs O’Hara: We can organise visits for you to the women’s centres. Our partnership represents 13 women’s centres, and you are welcome to visit. If you give us a call, we can organise that.

71. The Chairperson: We have another two presentations today, so I need to conclude this part of the meeting shortly. I am sure that you understand that. I ask you to make your final comment, please.

72. Mrs Coyle: DSD funds the WCRP, and, as you know, all Departments are cutting funding. It has cut funding for NIRWN, which I work for. That means that I will have less time to spend on policy submissions and other such work.

73. That is important, because we could be doing all this work and you would not have heard about it if I had not been doing it. Therefore, the issue is also about the structure that supports what is going on. I thank Emma, Chris and Jonathan, who have been getting lots of earache on the telephone. They are a credit to the Committee for the support that they have given us.

74. Mr McNarry: Is anybody doing this for men?

75. The Chairperson: That question has already been asked.

76. Mr McCarthy: Before you leave, I should say that you might think that only men are here. However, there is one lady on the Committee, but, unfortunately, she had to leave earlier. Therefore, do not go away saying that those men do not know what they are talking about, because there is one lady on the Committee, and she will keep us right.

77. Mrs Coyle: I compliment you all. You listened very attentively, and you were very kind to us.

78. The Chairperson: We move now to the written submission from SkillsActive NI. I welcome Siobhan Weir and Gerry Kelly from SkillsActive NI. Good morning. Thanks for coming along. Yours is the second of the three presentations today. I ask you to introduce yourselves and to give a 10-minute statement.

79. Mrs Siobhan Weir (SkillsActive Northern Ireland): I thank the Chairperson and the Committee for inviting SkillsActive to give evidence to the inquiry. We really appreciate what you are trying to do. Identifying, analysing and trying to come up with solutions for improving participation rates is quite a challenge, but we hope that what we have to say today, as well as the written evidence that we have submitted, will go some way in helping you to reach your goals.

80. I will begin by introducing Gerry Kelly. Mr Kelly is the chief executive officer of the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association, and he is here today in his capacity as a member of the SkillsActive executive committee, and he has responsibility for 34 staff. His main role today is to help to amplify and back up some of the evidence that I will be giving. Gerry is an example of the great support that SkillsActive receives.

81. Mr Gerry Kelly (SkillsActive Northern Ireland): Members will probably know that the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association is based in the Stormont estate, and I know that Lord Browne has attended our various cricket events over the past couple of years. We have about 34 staff, and I am in the unique position of not only managing the sports association but of being a coach. I am involved with clubs in Carryduff and with various other teams. As Siobhan said, I am here to support her and to amplify some of the views that she will give.

82. Mrs S Weir: I shall take this opportunity to explain briefly what SkillsActive is all about, and I will then expand on some of the five recommendations that we submitted. I look forward to getting some questions and answers and to getting some discussion going, because I appreciate that what we are trying to deliver is quite complex. The workforce is an issue, and it is the key to SkillsActive. That is what we are all about. We are there to help upskill and qualify the active leisure workforce, which is wide ranging. We represent people who work in sport and recreation, health and fitness, play work, outdoors, caravan parks and almost anywhere where there is activity. Our mission is to have a workforce with more people who are better qualified and better skilled. Our vision is to deliver a workforce for the nation’s well-being and to get people active, which is the key.

83. Our area of expertise is in raising workplace standards. We approve qualifications for the workforce, we write the national occupational standards that give people their competencies and skills and we help to upskill and professionalise the workforce. We also match training supply to demand and we increase sector investment in our people. In a nutshell, that is what SkillsActive is about. However, the Committee should keep in mind that the key word is “workforce”.

84. We represent a diverse and exciting sector that ranges from multi-million pound sports clubs to self-employed personal trainers. In between those two are family run leisure clubs, caravan parks and play schemes. That is our workforce. Regardless of the size of the workforce, the one thing that the groups have in common is that they can all have an impact on improving participation rates.

85. That is an important, if sweeping, statement. Therefore, to support it, I have four or five recommendations to make that the Committee may be interested in. The first centres on the need to ensure that whatever solutions the Committee finally decides to support, it should be mindful that the workforce will underpin the delivery of any new initiatives or incentives. The Committee may ask why we need a competent and qualified workforce. Apart from the obvious reasons, it is really important to understand that it is the workforce that takes people step by step through the participation journey. For example, a community sports development officer helps to engage participants and has to use certain skills to encourage them to be more active. That is not a skill that is easily acquired. Therefore, a real difference could be made to participation if more people in roles similar to that had the required skills sets. I am sure that some members have had negative experiences of being involved in sport, but we are trying to make those experiences less likely by qualifying our workforce.

86. I spoke just yesterday to Gary Mallon, who is a third-level development officer with the GAA. He explained that the GAA is now trying to make sport fun and to emphasise that it not all about winning. The very fact that children and people are participating is important. That is a new approach, because, traditionally, coaching was all about the podium and winning. Now, however, teams are being developed to be more inclusive, and the trend is more towards that kind of participation.

87. There are questions on how we can access the rich resource of those who we have and how we can structure things so that people can give to their full capacity. One solution is the promotion of workforce development planning. Research that we carried out shows that very few sports organisations, or even large leisure clubs, have workforce development plans. However, evidence from England shows that the development of a workforce development plan can help to increase participation rates. Therefore, it is important to have such a plan. At the moment, they are on the edge of a whole new workforce that is having to address participation rates.

88. With Sport Matters, which is the new sports strategy, the workforce needs to have some kind of structure in place so that it feels that it is part of a profession and that proper career routes are open to it. That recently approved strategy has the target that states that by 2017, at least 900 qualified coaches should be accredited. It aims to modernise at least 30 governing bodies of sport and to appoint 40 club support workers. The strategy includes a target for the training, deployment and management of a network of 300 community sports coaches. Many people will need a lot of support, and one of the ways of providing that is by establishing really good workforce development plans that give them a real structure to work towards, making them feel part of a profession.

89. Mr Gerry Kelly: It is not only about the technical qualifications. As I am sure you will know, Barry, people can be taught technical skills for Gaelic games, but coaches also need the softer skills, including communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to get young people to respect and to work as part of a team. Those are the skills that we are missing out on. Siobhan is talking about developing the structure to use those soft skills as a currency so that someone who is involved as a coach in cricket, for example, could also be involved in GAA or football. That is an important element of what we are suggesting.

90. The Chairperson: What single big change to government policy that might make the difference in increasing participation in sport and physical activity would you recommend?

91. Mr Gerry Kelly: The issue must be considered holistically. I am sure that Sport NI has talked to you about facilities, and I am developing £2·5 million of facilities on the Stormont estate. Hopefully, those facilities will increase participation levels by 100,000 this year alone. You will probably be aware that we are putting in nine third-generation soccer pitches and two hockey pitches. Facilities and sports development are part of the solution, as is ensuring that our people know exactly what they are doing from a technical point of view in our long-term athlete development programme.

92. The other part of the solution is to ensure that our coaches are well qualified in softer skills. Many of you have been involved in sport, and you will know how to kick a ball, how to do a toe-tap or how to hit a cricket ball. It is important that recognition be given to the ability to communicate with people, to be part of a team and to teach people about respect. In this day and age, it is also important that we talk about our competencies and skills. Those should be recognised as a currency so that someone’s competencies and skills can travel, regardless of whether they are involved in Gaelic football, soccer or cricket. That can help to develop a long-term solution for coaches.

93. Having been involved in sport for over 20 years as a practitioner and an administrator, I know that a certain stigma is attached to sport. Therefore, we have to get a value attached to it. Parents often ring me to say that they wanted their son to become a doctor, but he really wants to get involved in sport and they ask me what I think about that. I have to sell the benefits to them of a young person going to college to do a sports degree. We need to try to develop the recognition of sport in the longer term and to start to get that wonderful industry elevated to the point where it is recognised as something that people want to be part of.

94. We are not proposing a short-term solution or a sticking plaster. We want a long-term cultural shift. In the 20 years that I have been involved in sport, we have tried to increase participation. Many governing bodies are working on the technical side to get people involved. They are getting people involved in what is known as the “Go Games”, in Kwik Cricket and so on. All that is good and will contribute, but we need to kit out the coaches and volunteers with the right skills to be able to deliver.

95. Mr McNarry: You are both very welcome. Your presentation was very interesting. We heard this morning from the Women’s Centres for Regional Partnership. That, along with the other evidence that we have gathered, confirmed that there is a lower rate of physical activity and participation in sport in economically disadvantaged areas and among women, the disabled and the over 60s. What professional specialities do coaches require to work with people in those categories?

96. Mr Gerry Kelly: Coaches have to be able to make sport pleasurable and to get people involved in activity. To go back to our side of the work, which is about skills, we have to coach the coaches and make sure that they are able to adapt their styles.

97. Mr McNarry: Let me interrupt you. I was asking what professional skills the coaches have and what skills they are required to have.

98. Mr Gerry Kelly: Primarily, they need to have the necessary technical ability and to comply with health and safety requirements. They also need to have a range of softer skills to help them communicate and engage with people.

99. Mr McNarry: Do they have those skills?

100. Mr Gerry Kelly: No, they do not.

101. Mrs S Weir: Some of them do. We have national occupational standards for working with inactive populations so that people can gain the required tangible skills. Those are the standards and competencies that coaches need to have, and they are woven into training and qualifications. If we are talking about policy change, we need to make better use of those occupational standards, because they are a rich resource. The occupational standards give coaches the required scientific knowledge, technical ability and confidence to give information and advice to people who are trying to get more active.

102. Mr McNarry: Are you saying that, without people who have those skills, the opportunities for the proposed increase in adult participation in sport and physical recreation may not be achieved? Does that point to a current shortage of well-qualified coaches in Northern Ireland? I am only repeating what you told me. Can you stack that up?

103. Mr Gerry Kelly: I can give you examples. With the new pitches on the Stormont estate, we have a sports development person and a marketing communication person going round the wider community, particularly to socially deprived areas, to promote the use of the facilities. We are making it financially attractive for people to use the facilities. That is important, but a particular type of person is needed to give that information. We have been able to coach people and adapt their communication styles so that they can sell the facilities and encourage people to use them.

104. Mr McNarry: I understand that style comes into it. However, if I were conducting a job interview, I would need to see the person’s professional qualifications. Your pitch is about professional qualifications, and I am asking whether a lack of them will prevent us progressing as quickly and as far as we want to.

105. Mrs S Weir: Of the coaches that we managed to contact as part of our research, about 47% had qualifications below NVQ level 2. That in itself is an issue. As Gerry was saying, we have to ensure that we weave skills in with qualifications. Qualifications are all well and good, but they are not if they do not teach the necessary competencies and softer skills. Our mission is to make sure that the occupational standards are met.

106. Mr McNarry: I am with you on that, but I see a gap. How can you tell me that more coaches who are better trained will lead to greater participation? You are telling me that the way to increase participation is to get more coaches. Where is the evidence that more coaches will lead to increased participation? In your closing remarks, you mentioned the targets for 900 coaches and 40 club support workers. Who will pay for that?

107. Mrs S Weir: It is a complex situation, because coaches are paid for in different ways, such as by governing bodies and by Sport Northern Ireland through DCAL.

108. Mr McNarry: I am sorry; I did not mean to ask who will pay for it. I meant to ask where we will find the money to pay for that.

109. Mrs S Weir: Training coaches is our area of expertise. A lot of the training happens in further and higher education institutions. That is where people get NVQs and formal qualifications.

110. Mr McNarry: Those people go on to get jobs and are qualified to a certain standard. I think that you called them well-qualified coaches. You are making a pitch that more and better coaches will lead to greater participation. I want to buy in to that idea and agree to it. However, I need your help to produce the evidence. I also need you to tell me where we will get the money to give people a working wage after they have qualified.

111. Mr Gerry Kelly: In a practical sense, I have been involved with Carryduff Colts. We started five or six years ago with about 40 people. We now have about 300 kids, and, as a consequence, we have increased our coach base, which involves people like me who are in full-time employment but coach part time. However, we are qualified and go through all the necessary checks and processes.

112. The Civil Service club down the road has increased participation levels of young people and adults by well over 100% because coaches have been employed. Most of those coaches are not fully paid full-time coaches; they are part-time coaches who come from the organisation. We train them, coach them to coach and equip them with the necessary skills. There is no question that that makes a significant difference. I will produce statistics for the Committee that highlight that point. As I said, I am involved with clubs in Carryduff, not only the football club but the Gaelic club, and I know that Members will find that participation in many clubs has increased as a result of coaches being brought in. There is no doubt about that.

113. Mrs S Weir: At the end of the day, we need people to increase participation. We have our facilities, but we cannot open them without enough people. We need to encourage people and to provide a structured sporting experience for them. The more people that are involved, the greater the participation. To me, it is a given.

114. Mr McNarry: Do we have the money to do this? I know a little club in Comber that attracts hundreds of kids every weekend. All the coaches are voluntary. The club is run completely voluntarily, and it does not pay like other amateur clubs. The parents trust that club with their children. I am anxious that somebody may tell that club to close because the volunteers do not have certain qualifications and that people with those skills must be employed there. That club may also be told that if they can produce and pay their coaches, that is fine. However, for us to argue with you, which I, personally, want to do, I need to know that services such as the one that I have experience of in Comber will not be tossed aside.

115. The Chairperson: I will group the next two questions from Kieran and Ken.

116. Mr McCarthy: Thank you very much for your presentation. Siobhan, you mentioned the workforce development plan, and the research shows that very few sporting organisations in Northern Ireland have one. Will you give an example of any organisation in NI that has used such a plan? Can you outline its benefits?

117. Mr K Robinson: My question perhaps goes slightly off on a tangent. Many people enjoy physical activity for the sake of it. They do not need a coach to exercise, to walk or to swim. Would it not be better to spend money on enhanced facilities or on the creation of more parks, walkways and cycle paths rather than specifically on coaches?

118. Mrs S Weir: I will answer the question about workforce development. Most sports governing bodies have coaching development plans, but they might not have an all-encompassing workforce development plan for everybody who works in their organisation. I am talking about the secretaries, the committee members and the people who wash the kits. A holistic workforce development plan can help to develop those people and to get the most out of them. We have found that workforce developments plans are the solution and that, because they are based on national occupational standards that give people knowledge and an understanding of their role, they really benefit the clubs. That is part of the reason.

119. Mr McCarthy: You are trying to encourage the workforce as a whole to get involved.

120. Mrs S Weir: Yes. It is not just down to coaches; volunteers and anybody who has any input or interaction should be part of development. It should not just involve the full-time, paid people.

121. The Chairperson: The Dromore captain in Tyrone described that as those who wore the jersey, those who washed the jersey and those who watched the jersey.

122. Mr Gerry Kelly: There is a school of thought that people will participate in sport at any rate. To get maximum enjoyment out of sport one needs to have a bit of an understanding of what it is about. It is not just about achievement; it is about recreation. There is another aspect to it, which is safety. It is about participating safely and making sure that you get the best out of that participation.

123. I have been involved in sport for many years as a runner, a triathlete and a footballer, and I have always taken part in activities in company; it has not always been about competition. Now, at a young 45 years of age, I trek around the Stormont Estate every morning, and I do it with company. It is nice to do it with company, because it gives more satisfaction and is more sustainable. At the moment, you are considering how we can get people involved in activity and improve participation levels, not through a quick fix but through a long-term solution and a cultural shift. If we are going to do that, it should be about giving people the best opportunity.

124. Mr K Robinson: Thank you for that reply, Gerry. Your enthusiasm for the scheme comes across. I was a teacher in a former life, and we talked about competencies and skills in teaching. What was at the back of my mind was that when that came in the door, flair, enthusiasm, enjoyment and commitment went out the window to a large extent. I see Dominic nodding; he was there before the mast like me. I look at teachers today, and I see that they are dragooned; they have to have this and that, and they have to go through this, that and the other course.

125. Last Sunday, I took a cross-community group of 50 to 60 people out walking on the new cycle path that I am involved with. I saw kids lifting up things and asking what they were, and unqualified people were telling them that it is such-and-such a plant or a dog, a rabbit or whatever it happened to be. There was engagement and enthusiasm on both sides, both to learn and to get involved and pass on knowledge. I am just a wee bit concerned about what is happening. Although a level of skill is needed and people need to know what they are doing, please do not dragoon them like that so that they lose that enthusiasm, because that is lifelong.

126. Mr Gerry Kelly: I totally appreciate that, Ken; I know exactly where you are coming from. I hope that I have not misrepresented the competencies and skills. I do a bit of sports psychology, so, from my point of view, the other aspect is the guy at school who we all remember as being the last to be picked to play football because he was the worst player. We are still living with the legacy of that now. People tell me that they do not really like sport because, when they were 10 years of age, nobody picked them, and, as a result, they no longer get involved in sport. There is a particular way of doing things. As coaches, we have a responsibility to engage with young people and adults to bring them in and make sure that they get involved, not just today, but over the next 20 or 30 years. I accept your point, Ken.

127. Mrs S Weir: We cannot stifle that innovation and that kind of informal interaction with qualifications. In the past, there has been a stigma attached to qualifications. However, skills are now delivered in a much more interactive way, and people are developing skills. We still want people to be competent, even if they do not have formal qualifications. We must ensure sure that we get the balance right: we need a qualified, competent workforce, but we must also be sensitive to the fact that a lot of those people are volunteers and do not want too much bureaucracy. We have fast-tracked NVQs and all sorts of other solutions to address that very problem, because the people in our workforce are the last people who want to sit behind a desk in that kind of environment.

128. Mr K Robinson: You do not want to frighten people away.

129. Mrs S Weir: I agree.

130. Mr K Robinson: If people are made to go on a course that they are not up for attending, they simply will not go, and, consequently, a talent will be lost.

131. Mrs S Weir: The whole point of SkillsActive is to ensure that that does not happen.

132. Mr McNarry: Ken, you have not asked the witnesses anything about people who wear Lycra.

133. Mr K Robinson: The previous set of witnesses spoke about gym bunnies. Does SkillsActive also cater for them? That was just a passing thought.

134. Mr Gerry Kelly: You must have seen me on the estate this morning in my Lycra jogging bottoms.

135. The Chairperson: I appeal for calm at this juncture.

136. Dominic and Billy’s questions will be grouped together, and Wallace will ask the final question.

137. Mr D Bradley: Good afternoon. Last week, representatives from the British Medical Association told the Committee that less than one fifth of people who are prescribed exercise at the gym to improve their health continue to participate. That is a big drop-out rate. You spoke about coaches having hard skills and soft skills. What can SkillsActive do to ensure that coaches have not only the technical expertise to explain how various machines work and how various exercises should be done, but the skills to encourage continued participation?

138. Mr Leonard: David made a point about the volunteers at his club in Comber, and I wish to refer to my GAA club in Coleraine. There are a tremendous number of people at that club who coach all ages. Those coaches have done a brilliant job and continue to do so. Are you saying that we should encourage volunteers to seek qualifications through local part-time courses, or are you saying that qualified community trainers and coaches should dovetail with volunteers at the local clubs, such as GAA and soccer clubs? How is SkillsActive pitching that to community clubs?

139. Mr Gerry Kelly: Sport is losing people and coaches. It is a generally accepted rule of thumb that parents who volunteer as coaches view their role as a job and will move away from coaching and participating in sport once their kids grow up. We want to encourage people to keep participating in sport and to get more involved in it. We help them to get technical qualifications, but they do not recognise the softer skills in the national occupational standards.

140. There is a range of coaches in Carryduff who have brilliant technical ability. However, some of them are also fantastic at motivating young people and giving them confidence. Some of the kids who play for us have Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and when they are told how well they are doing they grow in confidence. We need to capture that and use it as currency. Earlier, David mentioned the example of an interview. Individuals being interviewed for a coaching position at a cricket club will want to tell the panel that, as well as having good cricketing qualifications and being able to show people how to bat a ball, they can motivate and inspire people and be a good team worker.

141. Mr Leonard: I do not disagree with one word that you are saying. However, should coaches such as those in the GAA club in Coleraine or in David’s club in Comber be encouraged to obtain further qualifications or should they be encouraged to dovetail with community-based coaches who are employed by the local council?

142. Mrs S Weir: It depends on the individual and who he or she aspires to be. Some coaches are comfortable with doing what they are doing at the moment. However, some of them may wish to move to the next stage and become a professional coach. We are trying to put in place progression routes to allow that to happen, if they so choose. That is what it is all about — choice. If coaches wish to keep volunteering on Saturday afternoons and to keep their continuing professional development skills up to date, that is fine. However, if they wish to opt for a progression route, that should be made available to them.

143. You asked whether coaches should dovetail with other coaches in the community, and I again refer to the national occupational standards. The beauty of those standards is that they enable people to bolt on a set of skills to their qualifications. For example, if a coach who is very technically qualified wants to interact more at a community level to encourage participation, it is not very complex for that person to obtain the necessary skills set through those standards. We are trying to put across the message that coaches can be whatever they need to be in a given situation if they bolt on those skill sets. It is also about flexibility.

144. Mr Gerry Kelly: It is also about ensuring that the skill sets are common to working in the community at a voluntary level and to working in a full-time capacity at a cricket club, a rugby club or a GAA club.

145. Mrs S Weir: To answer Mr Bradley’s question, continued participation is an issue. If you are qualified to a certain level, you learn a competency in that you learn how to motivate people. You learn about the different stages of change that a person goes through, from being unsure about whether they are interested in sport right up to catching them when they look as though they are contemplating giving up. A really good exercise professional will be given the skills to look at what will motivate an individual to stay on. The register of exercise professionals, which we established in the UK, is an example of how we have used the process to give personal instructors the skills set to motivate people and ensure that they stay involved in sport.

146. Mr D Bradley: Gyms nowadays are full of technical machines. Everybody in the gym is on a solitary pathway, and there is very little interaction. You mentioned that sport is much more enjoyable as a group activity. Therefore, would it not be more beneficial to change the concept of the gym and perhaps go back to the type of gyms that we had in schools, with people doing circuits in a group rather than plodding along their solitary pathway on individual machines?

147. Mr Gerry Kelly: A number of gyms are going back to that. We have a gym in the Pavilion complex, and you are all welcome to come down and use it. It is simple: it is about pain or pleasure, and our job as coaches and motivators is to try to make it more pleasurable than painful. People often attend gyms because they have heart problems or they are part of the GP referral scheme. In a sense, they are trying to move away from something rather than move towards something. It gets them to the same place, but we need to make the process pleasurable. The skill for coaches and personal development trainers is to try to communicate what is good about participating in sport as opposed to what is bad about not participating in it. It gets you to the same place, but it is the motivation that is important.

148. We mentioned the occupational standards, which are about ensuring that we give the coaches those necessary skills. You are absolutely right, Billy; it is about ensuring that we have a generic picture of the skills, which includes the technical bits and the softer bits. We need to get those together and start to make coaches for the future and not just for today.

149. Lord Browne: We must recognise that there are excellent facilities in the Civil Service Sports Association; perhaps the Committee should pay a visit to those facilities. I have taken part in cricket and bowling there.

150. You said that you are in favour of developing a coaching register, regulating the profession and making it more professional. Would there not be a danger that such a register would put voluntary amateur coaches off contributing to their clubs?

151. Mrs S Weir: That is a very good point. We have to be sensitive to that issue, because clubs do not want to end up losing very valuable volunteers. If they get a whiff of anything to do with bureaucracy, they will run a mile, and where would we be then?

152. The Chairperson: It would be a good thing if they were to run a mile. [Laughter.]

153. Mr Gerry Kelly: I believe that you are running a mile shortly.

154. The Chairperson: That is right.

155. Mr D Bradley: Do amateur organisations have their own coaching and training programmes? Most people who are involved in coaching soccer, Gaelic football or cricket are already trained to a reasonably high level.

156. Mrs S Weir: I was just going to say that. They are used to a certain amount of compliance, and they know that they have to keep up with certain standards. It is a matter of looking at whether there is any mileage in having a larger registration or licensing scheme. I appreciate that we need to be sensitive. I suggest that before a full recommendation is made along those lines, a feasibility study should be carried out to assess on the advantages and disadvantages of such a scheme.

157. What is appropriate for one sector may not be appropriate for another. For example, the motivation behind joining the register of exercise professionals is to get employment, but, with a coaching register for volunteers, and so on, that would not necessarily be the motivation. You are quite right: we need to be sensitive about how we take that to the next step.

158. The Chairperson: We must conclude because NILGA is due to give evidence. Thank you, Siobhan and Gerry. Siobhan, would you like to make a final comment?

159. Mrs S Weir: If you do not mind, Chairman, I want to return to the first question, which was about policy. Key terms that you have heard include “workforce development planning” and “national occupational standards”. In order to make more use of those rich resources, which are currently underused, we want there to be policy changes by which sporting organisations and the general active leisure sector can make better use of them, and through which those standards and workforce development planning can be embedded into structures in a more managed, cohesive way.

160. The Chairperson: Thank you very much.

161. OK, members. We will move on to our third witness session this afternoon, which is with NILGA.

162. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I welcome Mr Jim Rose, who is the director of leisure services at Lisburn City Council, and Mr Philip Faithfull, who is the chief executive of Strabane District Council. They represent NILGA. I ask the two gentlemen to introduce themselves and to make an opening statement.

163. Mr Jim Rose (Northern Ireland Local Government Association): As you said, Chairman, I am Jim Rose, director of leisure services at Lisburn City Council. I am accompanied by Philip Faithfull, and we are here to represent the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA). If it is satisfactory, I am happy to read our evidence, after which we will take questions.

164. As I am sure members are aware, NILGA is the representative body for district councils, and it promotes local authorities’ interests. We are pleased to be able to give evidence to the inquiry on participation in sport and physical recreation.

165. The Chairperson: Jim, I suggest that you do not read out your entire presentation. Members have had the opportunity to read it. In the interests of time, if you want to proceed straight to questions, there would be nothing wrong with that.

166. Mr Rose: That is fine.

167. The Chairperson: OK. We shall do that instead. That will allow for good, thorough engagement. Thanks for that.

168. Mr Leonard: Many of us who have been councillors, or are councillors at present, will be familiar with the set-up. The Committee has heard from many different sectors. Ultimately, work will end up being dove-tailed.

169. For instance, this morning, representatives from the Women’s Centres Regional Partnership told us that they are reaching a sector that local councils are not. That is good. However, under the new set-ups in the review of public administration (RPA), how will councils’ direct work and indirect work through connections with many other bodies be maximised to increase participation?

170. How do you see your future role? Will it grow? If so, will it grow exponentially or gradually? There is always the question of economics. However, if I take a broad sweep with that question, I am sure that other Committee members will ask about more specific matters.

171. Mr Rose: I anticipate that NILGA’s role will grow, although I am not sure whether that growth will be exponential. In the general context of an ageing population, problems with obesity and wider health issues, participation in sport and physical recreation become increasingly important, both to address and ameliorate some of those issues and to try to prevent them.

172. The community planning function presents an opportunity to co-ordinate the approach to participation in sport, to link with the local health sector and to involve the social and voluntary community sectors. Most councils already have sports development plans, which are based on consultation. It may be that the consultation needs to be slightly wider and more reflective of a broader stakeholder interest. Most councils will also involve local sports advisory groups in their plans. It is probably fair to say that, historically, those advisory groups have been drawn from sports clubs and specific interest groups. There may be some merit in trying to widen that involvement to include other stakeholder groups. That is an indication of the type of approach that could be taken.

173. Mr Leonard: Wider participation is key and, therefore, sports clubs should be involved. Beyond the Committee’s inquiry, members will know from local experience that there is a definite need for wider participation.

174. Lord Browne: In your submission, you state that research needs to be carried out on the pricing of local authority facilities and on whether cost is a barrier for some people. Why are local authorities not able to do that research themselves? In total, how much would it cost ratepayers to prepare, research, create and implement your proposals, and how long would it take to pay for them?

175. Mr Rose: I am conscious that some authorities in Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast, have done specific work in that area. For example, local authority sports facilities take bookings from a variety of sports clubs. Therefore, there may be merit in looking at offering a pricing advantage to those sports clubs with structures and approaches that address some of the target segments and the hard-to-reach groups that research indicates are not using the facilities to the same extent as others. That research needs to be done and can be done locally. Indeed, it is already being done by a number of authorities. Lessons can be learned from England, where that approach is more widely used. That could be of benefit in addressing some issues around encouraging participation. For example, we could ensure that sports clubs address the needs of women in their terms of reference. We could ensure that they are quality accredited, that coaches are properly qualified and that there are development pathways for coaches so that those issues can be addressed.

176. Mr Philip Faithfull (Northern Ireland Local Government Association): As we move forward with the RPA, it is becoming obvious that there is a variation in pricing structures in leisure centres. What is right for Omagh is probably different from what is right for Fermanagh. The bigger picture of bringing that together will be important and, therefore, we need to think outside the box. A lot of research is currently being undertaken on membership of fitness suites in England, where reduced pricing over a one-year or one-month period has increased participation and the income that those facilities generate. It used to cost £25 or £30 a month to use a fitness suite. However, in England, that has been reduced dramatically to perhaps £15 or £16. That has helped in the drive to increase participation, and, as Jim said, it has an effect on obesity levels.

177. Mr McCarthy: Thank you very much for your presentation. In your submission, you state that participation in sporting activity must be treated as a priority by central government and must be reflected in the policies of Departments and agencies. Can you give us an example of where that is not happening at present? Where are the gaps?

178. Mr Faithfull: In many ways, I am biased, because I sit on the Sports Council’s facilities panel and also on the Northern Ireland 2012 Leadership Group. Many of us attended recent meetings with the Sports Council. The budget has been cut dramatically – by £2·5 million this year. If we continue to reduce the effectiveness of Sports Council and Sport NI funding, that will definitely have an effect on local capital expenditure, particularly for clubs and local councils. I warn the Committee that that is starting to have an effect and will do so in the future.

179. The Chairperson: Is your understanding of £2·5 million of cuts to the sports budget correct?

180. Mr Faithfull: That is what I have been told, and that is what Sport NI has said.

181. The Chairperson: The Committee is having difficulty working out the level of cuts, and we are continuing to probe that matter. That is why I asked.

182. Mr Rose: The question of linking departmental strategies is related to that issue. There is still a tendency to operate in relative silos and to not adopt a cross-sectoral approach across the board. For example, health and transport can both have an impact on physical or recreational opportunities. In placing an emphasis on sport and physical recreation, there is scope to examine linkages between Departments.

183. Mr McCarthy: You mentioned the pricing differences in council areas. In my council area, I have been suggesting concessions for senior citizens. I have come up against a blockage in that we cannot do that because it is contrary to equality legislation. How come you can do it and I cannot?

184. Mr Faithfull: I can speak only for Strabane District Council, which offers free use of its facilities, such as swimming pools, to senior citizens. We must do a lot of work to rationalise the situation, but it is fairly simple work. It is not difficult to find out what the 26 councils are doing across the board, and I am sure that the chief leisure officers’ association (CLOA) has done that or has worked out pricing structures. However, some type of social intervention in that pricing structure would be helpful.

185. Mr McCarthy: You said that it increases participation in that section of the community.

186. Mr Faithfull: It does; no question about it.

187. Mr Leonard: I just want to mention Coleraine Borough Council at this point.

188. Mr McCarthy: I am delighted to hear it.

189. The Chairperson: Kieran, you are at the younger end of the spectrum, so do not being getting carried away about older people’s entitlements.

190. Mr K Robinson: Have we finished the advertising section?

191. Good afternoon, gentlemen. Your submission mentions the GP referral scheme, through which people are given a ticket, as it were, for their local leisure centre. Last week, the Committee heard from the British Medical Association that research shows that only one in every 17 people sticks to the gym programme. Why might that be? Have the personnel who are employed in local leisure centres ― I hold my hand up as a member of Newtownabbey Borough Council ― not been trained or coached or do they not have the motivation skills to keep on board folk who have health problems? Last night, I noted that, in my own council, we have only six or eight participants because we do not have the in-house strength to take on any more. Six or eight people from a population of 80,000 is a very small amount. Given the drop-out rate, is pursuing that approach worthwhile?

192. Mr Rose: From the information that I have seen, the drop-out rate tends to be very inconsistent. I know of one GP referral scheme in Lisburn that tends to achieve a 50% transfer into some form of membership. It highlights the need for our approach to be much smarter and more targeted in how we endeavour to engage with adults, particularly those who have historically ceased to participate in physical recreation or sport, and encourage them to use leisure facilities.

193. There are staffing issues in regard to training and shift patterns. One conclusion that has been reached from our experience is that the user wants to see a familiar face regularly. That person almost becomes their buddy while they are exercising, and councils must be a bit more flexible and consider their approach to those issues in order to achieve the most effective response from the scheme.

194. Mr Faithfull: There has to be a softer response for people going into leisure centres. Nobody who is overweight wants to go in and see the people who are exceptionally fit.

195. Mr K Robinson: A previous witness referred to those people as “gym bunnies”.

196. Mr Faithfull: My wife runs marathons, so it is difficult for me to go into a fitness suite.

197. Mr McNarry: You would look good in Lycra, Philip.

198. Mr Faithfull: I know. For the past 30 years, we have been fighting to encourage people who are not involved in exercise to get involved. The GP referral scheme works very well. I think that you mentioned the involvement of staff. They are critical. The GP referral scheme works if you have the right staff who are motivated to take it forward. However, it will not work if you do not have the right staff, if there is apathy among the staff or if they are untrained. It is a matter of forcing that through. Returning to my original point, we need to think outside the box in how we relate to unfit people who are going into the stainless steel gyms of the future.

199. Mr K Robinson: When a person goes on the scheme, they either stick to the course or do not keep with it afterwards. How do you identify, or do you identify, the end product at council level? Can you say that some have gone through the scheme successfully and that some have disappeared into the ether? Is any record kept?

200. Mr Rose: One clear way of knowing is to ask whether the person makes their membership formal once the scheme has finished. However, sometimes the scheme might run just for the gym and may not include the wider leisure facilities, so the person may come back for a recreational swim but will not be picked up as continuing to participate. There are benefits to councils’ employing wider leisure card schemes. That way, at least they obtain some information on whether the person concerned comes back.

201. Mr McNarry: I will begin with an observation. In the recent winter Olympics, coaching was identified as a failure, and that is now the case with the Davis Cup. Although I hope that they will prove different, I am not sure that the Olympic Games will bring the medals tally that we are looking for. In the round, what has gone wrong with coaching? Coaches, who are the so-called professionals, are given enormous amounts of money, but they are failing.

202. You recommend that financial assistance be channelled to those sports clubs that achieve quality club standards, as they are more likely to have good development pathways that address quality issues and coach development. Is that an encouragement in one form, or is it an indictment of clubs that do not have that standard? If standards are going to be set, what is being done to ensure that more clubs are working toward achieving them?

203. Mr Rose: I will answer the last question first. There has to be room to accept that clubs will have different levels of capability and capacity. Our experience is that a club does not have to be big to be well organised. The clubs that generate the volunteers to become administrators rather than just coaches are those that have good governance over their finances, and they have coaching structures and child protection policies as well as junior sections that feed into their adult participation. Some may have female sections. A lot of local authorities offer assistance to those clubs to improve the capacity of their administrators and the parents who are involved. The local authorities also advise the administrators on child protection policies so that the parent who turns up with the child or young adult feels that there is somebody who is interested and who they can relate to. Often, that brings people back to the club.

204. This is interesting, and we recently produced a piece of research on which we have been working for a number of years. We looked at sampling schoolchildren in years 9, 10 and 11. A number of kids in year 9 were members of sports clubs and stayed with them until they were in year 11. Tracking such involvement is useful.

205. Clubs are being offered support. Clearly, they face substantial bureaucracy in their processes, such as with child protection and so on. Although such bureaucracy is essential, but on some occasions, it can put people off.

206. Mr McNarry: I am picking up on that only because you indentified a criterion, namely “quality club standards”. My concern is that an assessment could be made, but, for reasons that are unknown to me, a club that is rated highly in its local community does not achieve that standard. Is that detrimental to the club?

207. Mr Rose: There are levels of assessment, including gold standards and below. Therefore, clubs have an opportunity to progress through the levels, to stick at whatever level is appropriate, or to stay at the level at which they feel that they are capable of operating. Certainly, our experience is that clubs that have participated have found that to be a useful approach.

208. Mr McNarry: Is that still a recommendation, in that case?

209. Mr Faithfull: I would like to respond. As the Chairman knows, I have been involved in quality management for the past 25 years. We have gone through the process with leisure centres with Quest accreditation and so on. The Kitemark scheme for sports clubs is not a big stick with which to beat them, it is a potential achievement.

210. On a daily basis, councils come across clubs that apply for grant aid. Whenever you go through the required checklist, you often find that quite a few clubs do not even have bank accounts or nominated child protection officers. The aim is not to beat them with a big stick but to try to bring them along so that they can reach acceptable organisational standards.

211. To return to your original question on coaching, quite a few of us have been to clubs where it was always the voluntary coach who brought the young kids on. Throughout the years, the school system has changed in many ways. After-school provision of Gaelic games, rugby or soccer between 4.00 pm and 6.00 pm does not perhaps happen on a voluntary basis to the same extent as it did previously. As far as I am concerned, that has had a massive effect on coaching.

212. The quality of current coaching is strong, and it is highly accredited. Requirements for a coach are exactly the same as for a club. Perhaps, however, coaching in the voluntary sector is not as strong as it was previously.

213. Mr McNarry: In your recommendations, you talk about promoting opportunities that the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics will hopefully present. I reiterate the point that that depends on the standard of coaching. If that standard falls down, the nation will be critical. Achieving a mass influx of people who will participate in sport as a result of others’ success will depend greatly on coaching. People will not say that that is a good idea, even though we came last.

214. Mr Faithfull: The 2012 Olympics needs at least 70,000 volunteers, even to get the thing off the ground.

215. Mr McNarry: I know that.

216. Mr Faithfull: To compete in the 2012 Olympics, individual athletes will have to have been selected already for the games so that they can arrange their coaching programmes. The quality of coaching is fairly strong, but the market of top-quality coaches and, I have to say, top-quality athletes is limited. We have two years to get it right.

217. The Chairperson: I thank Jim Rose and Philip Faithfull for coming along and giving us a presentation today. The session will help our deliberations on the inquiry into participation in sport. Thanks very much.

18 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:
Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Mr Ryan Feeney
Mr Danny Murphy
Ms Aileen Tohill
Dr Eugene Young

Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association

218. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I welcome representatives from the Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). The team is led by the provincial director, Danny Murphy. Please begin with an introduction of your team followed by your presentation.

219. Mr Danny Murphy (Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association): I introduce Dr Eugene Young, who is our director of coaching and games. He will lead our presentation, aided and abetted by Aileen Tohill, who is our health and wellness manager. Ryan Feeney is our community and public affairs manager, and I have the overall responsibility for the association in Ulster. Ryan and I will answer questions when the session is opened up for discussion.

220. Dr Eugene Young (Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association): We have a short presentation. I will go through the slides that we have provided to the Committee, because I was very keen to provide visuals of some of the work that is going on. I will take members through the presentation page by page.

221. I thank the Committee for the invitation. I am sure that members are aware that the GAA is a multi-sports organisation. The key codes with which we work, in particular, are as follows: rounders, hurling, handball, ladies’ football, men’s football and camogie. Those are central to the work that we do.

222. We were asked to concentrate on adults, so our presentation is about adult participation and, in particular, some of the barriers that we have experienced to people not being able to participate, and how we have tried to overcome some of those barriers. We will highlight what we think are best practices in our sports and make recommendations as we move forward. In practice, it means taking some of our small stars and making them into sporting stars. However, keeping them involved in Gaelic games when they cease to be sporting stars is equally important. Quite often, it will be as coaches or groundspeople, or as people working through our committees on a voluntary capacity through our clubs. We have also started to engage with active participation, and I will take members through the model of participation that is outlined by Sport NI.

223. We now move to a picture of my car, which is a Volkswagen. I remember that car when I was growing up. The point is that anything useful normally comes from some sort of model. Over the past eight or nine years, we have tried to model our practice on what we felt was best practice. We have had a lot of help from Sport NI in developing what we feel is best practice and world-class models. The Volkswagen may have evolved into another model. Over the next few minutes, I will engage members’ thinking on the models that are being presented by Sport NI, and how we have tried to map our activity on to those models.

224. Our next slide shows the traditional sports-development model. The new sports strategy has requested that we try to get our participation levels up to around 53% for adults. That model is fine, but it is probably a bit outdated. The next slide shows how we have tried to map our work on to that model. From a participation perspective, it works with respect to children, up to people who are retired and who have been retained in the association. However, we think that there is a better, more fluid, model, which is now reflected in the Sport Matters strategy. The model that we are working on reflects how people who are involved with Gaelic games can move quickly from participation to performance and then to excellence. Once they have finished at the excellence level, they can move back down to performance and participation.

225. Our strategy covers five key areas: governance; coaching and games; facilities and infrastructure; culture and heritage; and community development, inclusion and cohesion. Those areas correlate well with the Sport Matters strategy, in which participation, performance and places are the key themes. Both documents highlight the lifelong involvement in sport and physical activity (LISPA) model, and we have deployed that model in our thinking on participation. The LISPA model promotes active living, active recreation, organised sport and high-performance sport. Moreover, physical literacy is important, and although this presentation is not focused on children and youth, it is important to highlight that physical literacy is the building block upon which adult participation continues.

226. With respect to performance, we have 72 development squads from the age of 14 upwards. We have about 18 squads at under-18 level, 18 at under-21 level and 18 senior teams. Through the LISPA programme, about 600 clubs participate annually in our competitions and in our coaching and games development programme. The active living aspect is an important part of club activity, and we will discuss that later. Once people stop playing, they do not stop being involved in the sport. Gaelic games involve various different activities, and I want to make two points about that. Drink, Drugs and Sausage Rolls is a health-related programme that supports participation in our games. We try to drive a health message along with the activity that we promote. In a similar vein, we have a healthy-eating programme for primary schools that supports the physical literacy aspect of some of our work.

227. That is overall picture. I will now examine each area and give some practical examples of how we try to address them. There are several barriers to playing Gaelic games, which the GAA has tried to reduce in as many ways as possible. However, we recognise that some barriers remain, and we are trying to break them down. Furthermore, there are various filters to participation, and hitting any of those filters could exit a person from the process. From a governing body perspective, and even from Sport NI’s perspective, we need to get around those filters to enable people to participate in our games.

228. First, people must have an interest in the game. That is the most important aspect. Moreover, they must have the opportunity to play the game. I will use myself as an example. I am not a hurling player, because I never had the opportunity to play hurling. I am football person. I could have been the best hurler who ever came from Derry. However, that is not the case because I did not have the opportunity to play hurling and, as a result, never got involved.

229. Given the nature of our sports and the fact that they are contact sports, participants need to have a certain level of personal fitness and health. Cost is also a factor. For example, hurling is a very costly sport because sticks and helmets are expensive. That could be a barrier to participation. Location and transport are two other key factors. A lot of communities have their own Gaelic sports clubs, which is not necessarily a barrier because those clubs are normally within walking distance.

230. Physical literacy is highlighted in our submission because a key issue for anyone involved in sport is their ability to perform it at a reasonably competent level. Physical literacy is the ability to move and to participate in any games or individual programmes. Therefore, the importance of physical literacy is embedded early; the GAA is very strong on that and works with the IFA on embedding good physical-literacy programmes.

231. Family commitment is important: will the family support the individual who is participating in the games? There is certainly a fear of injury, particularly when young people move away, start to get married, take out mortgages and so on? They may not gravitate to contact sports such as ours because they are afraid of getting hurt. The self-employed in particular have a fear of not being able to work. As a result, they dip out of sport.

232. Time is an issue, particularly for women whose focus moves once they get married and start to have families; they start to shy away from and then exit sport. Disability access is another concern. Although Sport NI emphasises the need to make facilities accessible for people with disabilities, constant improvement is required, particularly with respect to changing rooms.

233. Stereotypes and attitudes, the expertise to support development, lack of companionship, peer pressure, structured programmes and facilities are all barriers to participation, which, without going into in detail now, we may address in answering the Committee’s questions.

234. Our presentation continues with hard examples of issues around active recreation. Chicks with Sticks — I apologise, the name came directly from the association — and Gaelic 4 Mothers are two female adult-participation programmes currently running. The advantages are that there are free facilities at the clubs where the programmes are available; the downside or barrier is that changing facilities are often focused on men. Pitches are also a problem for clubs that are operating with only one, which is insufficient when ladies’ codes are brought on board. The challenge is to provide more and better facilities.

235. For adult males, the question is this: what happens when I stop playing? Do I go out to pasture, or can I remain involved in games? Over the past three or four years, we have been developing a recreational Gaelic games programme for men over 40 who can operate between or within clubs. As I said earlier, the challenge is the fear of injury. We have tried to get around that by adjusting the rules to make the sport non-contact — one-touch or two-touch football. The biggest challenge for us is to provide enough opportunities for these people to play at that level.

236. Engagement with foreign nationals is another barrier to overcome for adult active recreation. The gentleman pictured in our submission to the Committee is called Abdul, and he is from Nigeria. He has been playing Gaelic games for about eight years and has also started to referee. Tooling up GAA clubs to cope with language barriers and people of differing cultures and customs is a challenge that we are trying to address through our ongoing education programme. The idea is to give people who have never played Gaelic games the chance to have a go at the sport. Our presentation continues with handball —

237. The Chairperson: Will you please conclude in the next three or four minutes to allow time for questions. The last three minutes of the presentation may have to be rushed.

238. Dr Young: Chairman, the next two slides cover handball, which can be played right up to veteran level; we have world champions who are aged 70 and over. We are also engaging with people with disabilities and with special needs, and, particularly, with other organisations that deliver in that area: for example, we work closely with Positive Futures. I will move to the slide that refers to active recreation through the Youth Justice Agency, which is an engagement with young adults who have offended but are returning to society, which is another key area.

239. I move now to targeting areas of high social need and highlighting the social benefits of participation in sport, such as discipline, building relationships, and encouraging a sense of civic responsibility and co-operation. That is the active recreation side. We thought that we would have had more time, with due respect, but we will park our presentation at this point, and if members have any questions on any particular slides, we will come back to those.

240. The Chairperson: Thank you. I will ask the first question. What single change in government policy do you think would have the biggest impact on increasing participation in sport and physical activity?

241. Mr D Murphy: If I were in a position to advise the Committee, I would encourage it to look at sport’s involvement in the community and in society and how it relates to so much of what we do. A cross-departmental approach is required because, although sport is within the remit of this Committee, some of the major involvements and benefits that emerge from sport relate to other Departments: for example; social cohesion, antisocial behaviour, health, education, equality and a number of issues in that area.

242. Whatever strategy emerges for sport should become the central policy for several Departments that are dealing with the outworkings of those items, and sport should then be seen as an arm of delivery. Sport is not specifically referred to in the current Programme for Government, but it is included under several headings, because it is probably the most essential instrument for delivering better interactivity, a better sense of health and better physical preparedness for people to deal with modern society. All of the various issues in the Programme for Government could be dealt with by sport to some degree. We maintain that there are seven Departments that have an impact on the delivery of sport.

243. Mr McCarthy: Thank you very much for your presentation; you are very welcome. You mentioned the need to overcome the barriers for females. The GAA is a multi-sports organisation. Do you have figures for the percentages of men and women who participate? I notice that there are programmes such as Chicks with Sticks and Gaelic 4 Women. Do you have a percentage figure?

244. Dr Young: There are probably around 90,000 men participating in the men’s codes. In the ladies’ codes there are around 22,000 participating in football, and around 10,000 participating in camogie. Those are ballpark figures for participation. One of the things we are trying to achieve, driven by Sport NI, is full integration of the ladies’ and men’s codes, because they are separate associations as such. We now have a confederation of Gaelic games, through which all of those governing bodies come together and operate under one umbrella. That allows us to share resources and expertise. They buy into some of the coach education programmes that we run. That is working quite well, but we still have a bit to go on that.

245. Mr McCarthy: Do you want to create a situation where there are no barriers, and encourage as many women as possible to get involved in all the sports?

246. Dr Young: Yes; without a doubt. Aileen may want to speak about the active living side, because one of the things we want to do is encourage ladies, particularly older ladies, to use our facilities.

247. Ms Aileen Tohill (Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association): Eugene has said that more than 30,000 ladies participate in ladies Gaelic football and camogie. Two of our other codes, rounders and handball, are multi-participant sports, and males and females of all ages actively participate in those codes throughout their lives. Therefore, it is not only within the female-only codes that female participation occurs.

248. Accessibility of programmes and facilities is crucial for female uptake and reference is made in our presentation to Gaelic 4 Mothers, Gaelic 4 Girls, Chicks with Sticks and Hens with Hurls for the over-40s. [Laughter.] Those initiatives form the female-friendly approaches to Gaelic football and camogie. Eugene also referred to the coach education programme and, crucially, that programme also provides females coaches and role modelling for young girls to continue their involvement in sport. The integration process, which hopes to enhance all Gaelic games, has gained momentum over the past three years and there has been a significant female uptake in that programme.

249. For females, the family unit is very important, and the GAA prides itself on the fact that it is a family organisation. The GAA talks about participation from the cradle to the grave and wants everyone in the family unit to be involved throughout their lifetimes. An important factor for females is to have accessibility to whatever is going on the pitch, and, for example, if a woman is playing on one pitch and her six-year old is playing on the other, that eliminates the need for childminding facilities. The GAA community has examined ways of endorsing that family organisation and through some of its active living programmes, such as its well women and cancer prevention clinics, it incentivises participation and provides a social outlet for females.

250. We have included some examples of those active living programmes in our presentation to the Committee. Many of our clubs now have walking tracks around their perimeters, which is a simple way to encourage female participation, particularly in rural areas, where the club’s floodlights provide a safe environment for females to exercise. That is a very simple way of how clubs use their facilities to ensure lifelong female participation away from the games themselves.

251. Lord Browne: I thank the witnesses for their colourful presentation. Although we are considering the falling levels of adult participation primarily, it is important that we examine youth participation as they feed into the system. What specific changes do you think should take place in the education sector and how is the Ulster GAA engaging with young people? It is a worrying fact that there seem to be fewer young people coming into sport.

252. Dr Young: One of the key things for the Ulster GAA is the Department of Education’s physical literacy programme. That programme establishes generic good movement skills in children, which can be used in any sport. I am not sure whether the representatives from the IFA spoke about that programme, but the IFA and Ulster GAA are both involved in it. It is essential that we instil those skills in children from the word go, because, once those are embedded, the young people will have the confidence to play any sport, not just Gaelic games.

253. The second important factor is to have some form of organised sports activity. Large governing bodies such as the Ulster GAA have a range of organised games. There are more than 3,500 games in Antrim each week, yet, surprisingly, there are only 71 games for ladies. Therefore, we have a massive job to promote ladies Gaelic football in Antrim, and we recognise that. Another factor is opening up facilities and giving people greater access to them.

254. Lord Browne: Should schools be opened up more to do that?

255. Dr Young: Yes. That is crucial. To have facilities lying empty from 5.00 pm when two or three local clubs are struggling to find facilities for any type of participation is — I will not say scandalous, but it must certainly be looked at very seriously.

256. The Chairperson: Did you say that that is “scandalous”?

257. Dr Young: No, I did not. However, it is important that that issue be looked at.

258. What else can be achieved through education? We use the Drink, Drugs and Sausage Rolls programme to promote awareness among young people in third level education who are living away from home that they need to eat right, watch what they drink and be sensible. It is almost no longer the case that students in higher education have Wednesday afternoons free to take part in sport. Some universities are now programming classes on a Wednesday afternoon, and I think that that is a backward step. On Wednesday afternoons, students used to be free to take part in inter-campus and inter-university sport. That issue must, therefore, be considered.

259. Now that my daughters are 17, they no longer have to do PE in school. Young people are only required to take part in PE until they are 16, but I think that they should be required to participate in some sort of activity, such as keep fit, until they are 18. That is one of our recommendations.

260. Mr D Murphy: I wish to elaborate on the point about school facilities. I think that in the Sport Matters strategy, there is the analogy of the percentage of recreational space in England, Scotland and Wales compared with that in Northern Ireland. It shows that 39% of the recreational space in Northern Ireland is met outside the education estate, and that the total percentage of recreational space in Northern Ireland is 51%, which demonstrates the overall significant under-provision of open-recreational space facilities.

261. Mr McCartney: I have two questions. I wish to take up Eugene’s point about children opting out of physical education at schools. How do we prevent that from happening? What initiatives can be taken to address that? My children try to get out of going to PE in school, and yet by 3.30 pm the same day, they want to go to training somewhere else. They view football training or whatever differently from how they view PE. How can we make PE more attractive, so that young children do not opt out of it when they are given the opportunity? I thought that young people who are interested in sport would view PE as a free lesson, but they do not.

262. My second point is about how this is taken forward. Your presentation was excellent. I was struck my Danny’s comment that seven Departments are involved, in one way or another, in relation to sports provision or responsibility for sport. What role should governing bodies play in initiatives? I think that the best initiatives for changing people’s attitudes are those that are driven by the sporting organisations themselves. For example, I think that the Live to Play campaign will have a greater impact than some of the other excellent road safety initiatives. When a sporting organisation gets involved in a campaign, the message has a particular ring to it, because of who is leading it and why.

263. Dr Young: First, our elite players are the ambassadors for our sport. We put those people up front when we take the lead in campaigns such as Live to Play, because they are the face of the association, and because they are the people whom we want to be the face of the association.

264. Secondly, I think that young people aged 16, 17 and 18, who have finished their GCSEs and who are now doing their AS levels should be required to do physical education, whether that be keep fit or Gaelic 4 Girls, until they leave school. I do not know how easy or hard it would be to implement that, but it is the way forward. Young people start to drop out of physical education at 16, 17 and 18. They are out the door, and they are not really as interested in sport as they once were. Therefore, the structured environment of formal education provides an opportunity to ensure that young people continue to take part in physical education until they leave school, and perhaps, once they get older, they will want to continue with that.

265. Mr D Murphy: I will deal with the issue of governing bodies. I think that governing bodies must be the central drivers behind ensuring people’s participation in sport. There are 86 different governing bodies that fall that within the remit of Sport NI, and those bodies have a responsibility to develop the sports for which they are responsible. They must organise competitive sport, where that is a part of the sport. They must also organise their structure and organisation on a whole range of levels, including coaching. The overall drive for all governing bodies must be to increase participation in sport and to ensure that they retain participation in sport.

266. All of those things feed into the various strategies and agendas of the different Departments. I will run through the Departments that have a role to play. The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has to be the lead Department since it is directly responsible for sport and physical recreation. Its responsibility includes the role of Sport NI, which, as part of its remit, deals with the governing bodies through the Northern Ireland Sports Forum. The Department for Social Development is responsible for regeneration, social exclusion and a number of other areas.

267. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety is the single biggest beneficiary of the work of sporting bodies, because, if more people participate in sport, that should ultimately engender a healthier society. If that is achieved, the Health Department will be a significant beneficiary. The Department of Education has several roles to play, because, as Eugene said, sport, in curriculum, is part of the future development of any positive education programme. I also feel that that Department has access to the single biggest estate outside that controlled by local authorities and governing bodies, and its facilities are significant.

268. The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister also has a responsibility, because it sets policy on equality in several areas, including equality for people with disabilities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. OFMDFM has a responsibility in the delivery of a shared future.

269. The Department for Employment and Learning has a role to play. That might seem strange, but it is responsible for delivering part of the safety at sports grounds legislation, because the training requirements for stewards, supervisors and safety officers will have to include qualifications. Those requirements are being set at NVQ level 2 for stewards, NVQ level 3 for supervisors and NVQ level 4, which is currently unavailable, for safety officers. The Department for Employment and Learning will also have a programme running under SkillsActive, which could be exceptionally helpful in developing local community volunteers and recognising their accreditation.

270. The Department of the Environment has a significant role, because it is responsible for the reorganisation of public administration and for local government. Therefore, it is responsible for the provision of facilities by local government and the provision of sport within the remit of local authorities. All of that is essential to building a wider sporting consciousness and building facilities for the playing of sport. I hope that I have answered your question.

271. Mr McNarry: Ladies and Gentlemen, you are welcome.

272. With my tradition and background, I know nothing about how you play your games. However, I take on board what you say, because I do not know whether you are bluffing. I commend you on your presentation: every time you come here, I learn something more about what you call “your family” and how it operates. That is a credit to what you do in your communities. Your organisation seems to be tightly knit within your communities, and that is the way that you are organised.

273. Last week, we heard evidence from bodies that called for more professional coaches in sport. In others words, they wanted the public to pay for more professional coaches in virtually all sports. Do you employ professional coaches?

274. Mr Ryan Feeney (Gaelic Athletic Association): Yes, we do. We are lucky that we are funded by Sport NI and the Department of Education, as the IFA is, to provide professional coaches. However, I stress that the vast majority of coaching and development work in the GAA is done on a voluntary basis. We are a voluntary and amateur organisation, and our players do not get paid. There are professionals who are available to support the volunteers. We also have a coach and games development manager in every county, which is funded by the central body in Dublin. Eugene will correct me if I am wrong, but we probably employ about 70 people in the coaching and games sector.

275. Their job is to provide coaching education and to support the volunteer coaches on the ground, because we feel that they are the people who will make the most impact at community level with regard to participation.

276. Mr McNarry: I will come to that in a minute as I am interested in the voluntary sector. You may not be able to tell us now, but could you furnish us with the funding that you get for those professional coaches and how much money is spent on it? I do not know whether there is a comparative pay scale between a coach in one of your sports and coach in rugby and in soccer — although we can get that information — but if there was, that information would be useful. Those who gave evidence to the Committee last week were calling for more professional coaches. You say that you are receiving funding. However, I wonder how much money we need, our how much money our people would want, for that.

277. Your presentation states that to address the levels of adult participation in your sport, the Government must show that they value volunteers. What specific steps can the Government take to address that issue? Now that you have identified that you employ professionals, will you give a comparison as to how many volunteer coaches you have, and the volunteer structure? I value volunteers in every walk of life. They are hard to get.

278. Mr Feeney: I want to qualify an issue. Where we do get funded support by Government, 85p out of every pound that is invested by punters in the GAA goes back to grass-roots clubs and county development. We employ quite a few coaches ourselves, and we try our best to keep that focus at club and community level, and also through infrastructure investment.

279. Mr McNarry: Do you get much money for television?

280. Mr Feeney: There is a revenue income from television streams, which comes into the association, and there is also a commercial revenue stream. However, we have a very strict rule with regard to the commercial stream money that comes over the gates, and our annual accounts have just been published. That money is reinvested in clubs and counties, and also into coaching and participation.

281. To answer you question about volunteering, obviously volunteers are vital to the GAA: it cannot survive without them. We have 250,000 volunteer members in Ulster and 90,000 players. Eugene will correct me if I am wrong, but there are between 60,000 and 90,000 volunteer coaches delivering on the ground. They are qualified to a high standard. Through the work of Eugene and others, we have a range of different coaching qualifications. There is foundation coaching, which takes the coach into three separate areas: adult, youth and children. Those are the three different stages of coaching and games development.

282. Without volunteers delivering on the capacity side of things and being involved in participation on the ground; for example, secretaries, chairpersons, treasurers, those involved in getting child-protection and health-and-safety issues in place, fund raising for the local club, looking at facilities, and those lobbying government on a range of issues, the association would collapse. The way in which we value our volunteers is very simple. We have to continue to encourage them and to support and protect them from certain issues. We have a range of award schemes in place. The president’s awards were announced during the week, when two people from Ulster won awards. We highlight the fact that we call the volunteer the last man or women standing, because we reckon that the volunteer gives up about 20 hours a week to develop sport at grass-roots level, which is a massive economic input and of massive economic and social benefit.

283. Mr McNarry: Do you find that the volunteers are attached to the children, and that as the children grow up, there is a fall-off?

284. Dr Young: They work their way through the system, starting with the children. The problem is trying to retain them once the children move into the adult game.

285. Mr McNarry: It is a bit like the Boy Scouts.

286. Mr D Murphy: I want to talk about two points that were raised. We simply could not exist without the very substantial number of people who run our clubs in a voluntary capacity, those who referee our games in a voluntary capacity, and those who coach and manage our teams voluntarily right across the age spectrum. Essentially, we are now finding that a lot of the professional coaches who have been referred to us have to ensure that we meet the standards set by the association. More recently, and probably one of the essential things that has to be dealt with, is the impact of legislation on the volunteers. That covers a whole spectrum, including the need to meet recognised standards on a whole range of fronts, from child protection to coaching qualifications. Ultimately, legislation is there, and is upgraded on an ongoing basis. If there is not someone working on what we call capacity building within the structure, the volunteer will be left totally exposed.

287. Mr McNarry: You say that there are 250,000 volunteers — I wonder what on earth they do during the rest of the week. Is there a structure?

288. Mr Feeney: Our structure is democratic. Clubs elect representatives to county committees. The county committees then elect representatives to the provincial council, which is the governing body for Gaelic games in Ulster, and it elects representatives to the central council, which is the overall governing body for the association both nationally and internationally. It is a democratic structure. There are one million members of the GAA across the world. We have overseas units, and five provincial councils, including the provincial council of Britain and those in the four provinces of Ireland. That is the democratic structure that is followed.

289. Danny is the chief executive of Gaelic games in Ulster, and is answerable to an officer board of totally elected volunteer officials, who are answerable to a council of totally elected volunteers, all elected from the grass roots. That is the system that we work.

290. Mr D Murphy: To clarify, I draw your attention to the slide in our presentation that shows the number of games played by the GAA and by Ladies Gaelic Football in the period from 30 September. It is not the complete year, but those are the figures from that time.

291. Mr Feeney: It is important to highlight that all of our players are also volunteers. Players who play at the highest level, including county and elite standard, are all volunteers. They do not get paid to play Gaelic games.

292. Mr McNarry: So there are no perks?

293. Mr Feeney: They are paid expenses.

294. Mr McNarry: They do not get a job, or a car?

295. Mr Feeney: No, they do not get a car, but because of the way society works in Ulster, usually the local community people look after them. We find that people who have a high profile in Gaelic games do very well in their careers, but we do not pay players. That is how we are able to invest so much money back to the grass roots.

296. Mr D Murphy: You ask a very important question. What we have found is that people who are organised in sport learn several very important disciplines, including good time management, a focus on what they want to achieve and, probably most importantly, the ability to work well in a team. People are normally very employable. I do not feel that there is any great number of people employed simply because they are playing.

297. Mr McNarry: On the question of discipline, how did Barry McElduff slip through the net? [Laughter.]

298. Mr D Murphy: I was not around at the time. [Laughter.]

299. The Chairperson: Thank you, David. You are always very helpful.

300. Dr Young: Where possible, we try to work in partnership with as many organisations as possible. Aileen is involved with the Ulster Cancer Foundation and other health organisations, and we are involved with the local authorities, particularly through the Active Communities programme that is coming online. The target population for that programme are women, older people, people with disabilities and young people. Through that programme and the partnership that was set up a number of Active Communities coaches will be on the ground by the end of April to facilitate that.

301. Mr K Robinson: Thank you for your presentation, it has been absolutely fascinating. Before I forget, I congratulate you on both those schemes; it is an excellent way to reach out to the community on health and safety matters. I hope that will be taken up by other sporting organisations. Thank you very much for that. Being on this Committee is great, because our language skills develop. We now have Chicks with Sticks.

302. Mr McCartney: We should ask Aileen to comment on that.

303. Mr K Robinson: Last week we had gym bunnies and the Lycra crew. The word discipline was mentioned, and I am very interested in discipline. Obviously your organisation maintains strict discipline with spectators. When we were at Casement Park we spoke to some of the stewards. Local stewards know local people, and local potential troublemakers, etc. Spectator indiscipline presents no great problem. However, there is an image of indiscipline, sometimes by rival players and officials on the field after a match, which provides quite a good sideshow. I would like you to think about that image problem.

304. Now to the question that I was told to ask: in your submission, you stated that you were going to address falling levels of participation via the government, who would have to improve facilities at community level. The submission states that the only way to halt that decline is to address it through participation in sport rather than through the development of the elite. That is where a wee bit of contention creeps in. Do you want to develop at community level, where you seem to be very well developed? Do you want to develop elite players who can raise the profile of the game even further? From what we have heard, yours is a well organised and funded organisation; so why should government help? Is there a drawing apart in what you have said?

305. Mr Feeney: No, Mr Robinson. Our organisation also has elite players, but I emphasise, and the Committee knows, that encouraging participation means looking at the needs of the many rather than those of the few. In 2001, a report by former Cabinet Office Minister Dr Jack Cunningham into how a country can cultivate more gold medallists highlighted the importance of participation in community sport at grass-roots level. His report clearly emphasised that getting more kids to play games will generate more elite players.

306. In terms of investment in sport, we are saying that we — the GAA, IFA, rugby and others — invest highly in our facilities. However, there is an onus and a statutory responsibility on local government to also provide facilities. We can provide only so many; therefore, where there is a shortfall we look to local government for provision. The GAA and local government are both to blame for the current lack of provision for Gaelic games in Ulster. We are and hope to continue to address that issue with many different local authorities. For example, we have had a very good response from local government bodies that we have been dealing with — they have said that they will consider Gaelic games when they think about the development of facilities. A single GAA pitch can also be two soccer pitches and a rugby pitch, which is a good shared use of space and an example of how to promote a shared-future agenda. We are trying to address that issue.

307. We totally accept and advocate that the governing body should have the key role in developing sport, but that must be done in partnership with government. We get funding from government, and through working with local government we can increase grass-roots participation at community level.

308. Mr K Robinson: Would that approach involve the GAA giving up any sovereignty in any way to local or central government?

309. Mr Feeney: We work in partnership with local and central government now. Although we have targets to meet to try to secure their funding, we believe that they benefit our strategy and the rolling out of our programmes. We are on our third strategic plan, which we wrote bearing in mind the Programme for Government and government strategies. We always made sure that in most cases our association’s targets matched those of government.

310. Mr D Murphy: I will come in on two of the points raised. The first is the provision of facilities. Regardless of whether those are provided on a regional or local government basis, there is significant under-provision of such facilities for Gaelic sport. Therefore, we want to engage with local authorities to ensure that that is addressed.

311. My other point addresses an entirely different side of the matter. Elite sport was referred to, but our elite players also play for their local clubs. It is almost unique to our structure that, as we say in one of our promotional DVDs, the biggest stars could also be your next-door neighbour playing for the local club side. At the end of the day, although fellows play for their counties, provinces and country, they also continue to play for their club, and, if asked, most would say their club is still the most important.

312. Mr K Robinson: It is very important that that process continues. Will somebody answer my question on indiscipline?

313. Mr D Murphy: I will deal with discipline. Ultimately, that is part of my responsibility. I sit on several bodies which deal with discipline, and although Mr Robinson presented a scenario, significant indiscipline is relatively rare. We have a clear disciplinary code. Disciplinary issues arise in a relatively insignificant percentage of the overall number of games played. We deal with them fairly forcibly. Where people step to a certain level, we would go from closing grounds to participation disqualifications.

314. Mr K Robinson: Do the media perhaps overemphasise the more eye-catching events rather than —

315. Mr D Murphy: My view is very simple: if we have a disciplinary issue and the media are present, they are fully entitled to report it. However, we deal with it very efficiently and very fairly. We have an exceptionally fair system. We have a competitions control committee, which recommends the penalty. The affected individual or unit has the right to decide whether to accept the outcome of that disciplinary determination. If they decide not to accept it, the matter goes to a hearings committee, which, effectively, establishes facts. It deals with the matter on the basis of the facts that are established. There are pre-ordained penalties depending on the gravity of the offences. If someone does not like the outcome, they can take the matter to an appeals process. The appeals are heard by an entirely separate group of people in the structure. The group includes people from the legal and the volunteer sides of the association.

316. Finally, but by no means lastly, a person can challenge any outcome on the basis of arbitration or mediation through the disputes resolution authority. They can also take a case, which, effectively, is legally presented because it falls within legislation that deals with arbitration. Although the outcomes are contestable in a court of law, they are not normally challenged there because they are normally legally correct. At the end of the day, we have a fair and very robust system.

317. Mr K Robinson: The issue of stewarding was brought to our attention. The local stewards can identify potential troublemakers and nullify that from a spectator point of view.

318. Mr D Murphy: I can deal with that very efficiently because I have been responsible for running all of the major games in Ulster since 1992. Several factors are of big help to us, the first of which is that we have volunteer stewards. They all come from the clubs. Secondly, the spectators are predominantly family orientated. When families are present, the opportunity for people to misbehave is quite substantially reduced.

319. Finally, most people know everyone who attends matches. The best way of stopping somebody misbehaving is for somebody else to tell them that they know who they are or know their club. Going back to our discipline, we have a wonderful little piece of legislation. We hold the unit concerned responsible for the conduct of its members and known partisans. We do not have to prove that they are members; we can identify them as supporters. Therefore, there is an onus on everybody from club upwards to make sure that their people who go to games behave themselves.

320. Mr T Clarke: I apologise because I had to leave for part of your presentation, but I enjoyed what I heard. Dr Young gave a very full presentation, albeit one that was cut slightly short by the Chairperson because of time constraints. Mr McNarry remarked that the Chairman was possibly overlooked. I suggest that he was not overlooked. I was looking at slide 2, and I think that you did give him courtesy. The first picture probably sums him up well. I am sure that you were giving him courtesy but did not want to comment at the time.

321. The Chairperson: Thank you, Trevor. Was there a question in there? [Laughter.]

322. Mr T Clarke: No; just information.

323. The Chairperson: I knew that you would be helpful. You always are. I think that you should succeed David as the Deputy Chairperson. I thank the team from Ulster GAA for coming today.

18 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne
Mr Trevor Clarke
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Mr Michael Boyd

Irish Football Association

Mr Colin Coates

Crusaders Football Club

324. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I welcome Michael Boyd and Colin Coates; thanks for coming along. I will hand straight over to Michael, who will introduce himself and his colleague and make an opening statement.

325. Mr Michael Boyd (Irish Football Association): Thanks very much. I am head of community relations at the Irish Football Association. With me is Colin Coates, who is the captain of Crusaders Football Club and is a Northern Ireland international player. We are delighted to be here and to have the opportunity to speak to the Committee.

326. The Chairperson: Do you want us to move directly to questions, or do you want to give us a summary of your written submission?

327. Mr M Boyd: I will give a brief summary. The main groups with lower participation levels in association football in Northern Ireland than the average adult rate are as follows: women; people with disabilities; black and minority ethnic groups; older people, and people from lower socio-economic groups. The Irish Football Association caters for all those groups. We have a women’s football department; a disability football department; World United, which is an intercultural football project; and we have a community relations department. We work with older people through Castlereagh Borough Council and our community relations department. With respect to the lower socio-economic groups, we do a lot of work with the Big Issue Street Football League.

328. I have brought a bag for each Committee member, and it contains a football. Our main message is Football for All; so we thought that each of you should have a football. Each bag also contains a magazine that highlights a lot of the community work in which the IFA is involved and the work that it carries out with different groups.

329. We identified that the main barriers to inclusion are as follows: access barriers; structural barriers; personal barriers, mostly relating to health issues; attitudinal barriers; lack of knowledge among certain groups; communication problems and language barriers; lack of cultural-diversity awareness; transport issues; lack of support networks; and lack of positive role models. Racism, sexism and sectarianism are also big issues that still face society and impact on sport and lifestyle choices. Sport needs to adapt to different lifestyle choices.

330. We have been asked to come up with possible solutions to improve the opportunities for people in those different groups to participate. We have come up with a three-step solution. We believe that it will make good economic sense by preventing some of the big issues arising that are costly to clear up. First, we ask that consideration is given to having a cross-departmental subgroup to examine sport’s role in supporting community cohesion and social inclusion. That will be a response to the cohesion, sharing and integration strategy that has been circulated to the various Departments. We feel that DCAL can take the lead in that group, which will cover social development, community safety, health, citizenship, education, leadership, sport, equality and good relations. We believe that having a co-ordinated subgroup will help us to respond to the issues that we face regarding the barriers to inclusion for the various groups.

331. Secondly, we would like consideration to be given to the commissioning of research on a multi-sports basis to help governing bodies identify and remove existing barriers to inclusion. We feel that such research is lacking, and that it would help all the main sports if it were commissioned.

332. Thirdly, we would like DCAL to consider seconding a senior civil servant to sports governing bodies in order to support good relations and co-ordinate sport’s role in supporting community cohesion and social inclusion. We made a trip to Scotland recently, and this idea came from the Scottish Football Association. In the bags we have given members, there is a briefing page on what happens in Scotland. The main points are as follows: a civil servant has been seconded from Scottish Government to the Scottish FA to co-ordinate the Promoting Citizenship through Football group and to facilitate discussions between football and government on key issues, such as tackling sectarianism, health, community cohesion and positive attitudes.

333. Last week, we met the civil servant who was seconded. His name is Gavin Gray, and he told us how the programme worked. He is the point of contact in the Scottish FA for every Department that can improve and support the Football for All message in Scotland. That works very well because it is open and transparent and maximises government support. Under the terms of the secondment, the civil servant’s wages and travel expenses are paid for by government. The Scottish FA provides accommodation, computer and administrative support. The role’s key objectives include: co-ordinating the wider remit of government initiatives through football in a cohesive and constructive manner; promoting healthy living and tackling alcohol and drug misuse; promoting diversionary activities linked to tackling bigotry and promoting healthy living; and, most importantly for me, facilitating the delivery of government key initiatives, and ensuring that those are monitored and reported on against targets and outcomes to ensure policy areas achieve good value for money. We believe that this is an interesting model and that it might work well in Northern Ireland.

334. The bags that we have given members contain all that information, as well as a football and a magazine highlighting our current work on Football for All. The three steps that the IFA highlights and would like the Committee to consider are as follows: setting up a cross-departmental subgroup, commissioning research on barriers to inclusion, and considering the idea of a secondment as part of working with governing bodies to promote the Sport for All message. I thank members for giving us the time to convey that message.

335. The Chairperson: Thanks. I have a question for each of you. The first is for Michael. What single major change — sea change — in government thinking or policy would have the biggest impact on increasing the level of participation in sport and physical activity?

336. Colin, as someone who has personally achieved highly in sport, what attracted you to sport in your younger days, at primary school or whatever? Was that interest well-fostered and well-nurtured at school? Alternatively, do you come from a sporting background? Will you tell the Committee something about your personal journey in sport?

337. Mr M Boyd: Health and community cohesion are the two big issues with regard to Government policy. Currently, football relies on a lot of grants to sustain its Football for All policy, with respect to child protection, women’s football, football for people with disabilities, grass-roots and primary school coaches. Approximately half of our staff are in the community promoting those messages.

338. Sustainability and getting the right messages across are issues for our organisation. We have revisited our strategy, and the key message and the key mission statement from football is Football for All and the value that that gives to communities. We believe that we can be a great partner in reaching into the heart of the community, right to the hard-to-reach groups of people who suffer from mental and other health issues. Football touches every street in Northern Ireland. Therefore, if health were prioritised, and if a structure were created to support Departments in working with football on the issues, we could improve communities and provide them with more value. An approach based on health and community cohesion would be a big help for us.

339. Mr Colin Coates (Crusaders FC): Like most young guys, my football origins were in the street where I lived. I am from Sydenham in east Belfast. Most of the guys were out playing football and I just kind of tagged along and played. I have always been quite lucky as a footballer in always landing on my feet. A lot of other guys with whom I played might look back and say they were better than me but not as lucky. A lot of talent falls by the wayside because teenagers get involved in other things such as alcohol or drugs. I was lucky in that I never got involved in those things and was able to stay away from them. If there were groups that were able to help young guys in sport to stay away from those things, more of them might go on to play at a higher level.

340. The Chairperson: You are recovering from injury at the minute; is that right?

341. Mr Coates: Yes; I will see the doctor tonight.

342. The Chairperson: I imagine that some of your luck is down to hard work. [Laughter.]

343. Mr McCartney: Did you play at every level, Colin? Did you start in primary school?

344. Mr Coates: I played football in primary school. I went to Grosvenor Grammar School, where not much football was played. Football is generally a bit different from rugby. It is more club-based whereas rugby is more school-based. I went to a local football club and, when I was 15, I was given the choice to play for either Glentoran or Crusaders. I am glad that I chose Crusaders, because many of the guys who chose Glentoran ended up on the scrap heap. When I went to Crusaders, I was lucky that the team was poor at that time. Therefore, I was able to progress quickly, and I played for the first team when I was 17.

345. Mr M Boyd: Colin is a modest guy. He is part of our Football for All advisory panel, and he represents the players’ opinions on our community relations strategy. Colin did some work on lower socio-economic groups as part of his dissertation for his degree at Stranmillis. Therefore, he brings a lot of knowledge and experience to our Football for All campaign.

346. Mr McNarry: All the experts from the Committee around this table know about modesty; you are welcome to the brigade, Colin. [Laughter.] Michael, you are very welcome, too. As someone from east Belfast, I must say that it is always great to see more wise men who originate from that area do well. Well done; I am proud of you.

347. Your submission lists areas for possible improvement and offers some solutions. The Committee is glad that you have brought those matters to its attention. Does the IFA have a target or a strategy for increasing levels of participation?

348. Mr M Boyd: Yes; we are reviewing our strategy, and the new mission statement will be Football for All. We are developing operating plans for grass-roots football to encourage mass participation. Our coaching department and community relations department will set targets in that plan. International level is the other big strand of our strategy. We are keen to ensure that everybody has a sense of belonging to the international team. That notion marries with our grass-roots strategy of ensuring that football is available to everybody. Therefore, international, domestic and grass-roots football are big parts of the new strategy. Given that Football for All will be the mission, we will, as part of the operating plans, set targets to increase participation among women, people with disabilities, people from black and minority ethnic groups, older people, and people from lower socio-economic groups.

349. Mr McNarry: Colin, what are your thoughts on the fact that local matches are now being shown on TV? Have people said that they have seen you on TV? Is that having an impact?

350. Mr Coates: Yes. The deal with Sky Sports has been fantastic for Irish League football and for football in Northern Ireland as a whole. It is crucial that the coverage continues. There has been talk of international matches returning to terrestrial TV; that would affect the Irish League in a bad way. The Sky Sports deal shows the league in a good light and highlights some of the talent. The media in general ― BBC and so on ― give a lot of negative coverage of the Irish League, such as the brawls, and so on. Sky Sports has been a big positive for football in Northern Ireland.

351. Mr K Robinson: Thank you very much for coming along this morning. My question is rather convoluted. Colin, you made a couple of good points, and I totally agree with your comment on the negative local media coverage of football. The fact that local football is receiving wider, more positive coverage is a very good sign for the future. Football here is, quite often, castigated and deemed to be of a very low quality. However, one can watch games from across the border on Sky. Although those teams will not set the world on fire either, the impression is that they are much better than ours.

352. Your submission identifies some of the main barriers that prevent groups from participating and says that DCAL should commission research to help the governing bodies identify and remove those barriers. Do you agree that the IFA, as the governing body that already receives public funding, should be taking that initiative and should be trying to increase participation rates?

353. Mr M Boyd: Yes. We are developing our first research operating plan, and we are proactively trying to source funding to commission that research. We do take responsibility for that. Our suggestion is that it is carried out on a multi-sports basis. Sometimes, the perception is that football is the only sport with problems when it comes to participation. However, it would be healthier if research were carried out on a multi-sports basis, as there are parallel issues in different sports concerning identity, sense of belonging, and inclusion.

354. Democratic Dialogue, the institute for conflict research, is evaluating our community relations activity, and we are awaiting those findings. We want to move to be in a research-led organisation, so that we can actively monitor and set new challenges for the IFA to be more inclusive. However, as part of the wider political process, it should be done on a multi-sports basis, and we would like to see DCAL and Sport NI take the lead on that.

355. Mr K Robinson: Would it be a fruitful exercise if you were to engage the media, so that they could see from the grass roots up the amount of effort that is put into sport and how positive it can be, particularly with regard to soccer? That might redress the media impression of what goes on in the game.

356. Mr M Boyd: We have a Football for All advisory panel, which includes members of the Community Relations Council, supporters, players, Sport NI and community relations consultants, and that issue came up at our last advisory panel meeting. We will be meeting with editors and sports journalists to talk through what we are trying to achieve and what our motivation is. That has been identified as a problem. In the past, we have not challenged certain negative stories and sections of the media on what they were reporting. We will try to identify people with whom we can work in the future to address that issue.

357. Mr K Robinson: I have watched the body language of some commentators and presenters when certain sports are coming up, and there is a buzz that it is something that cannot be missed and that people must know all about it. However, there appears to be a downside when they talk about soccer. For example, focus is on managers who are struggling to get enough players on the field and have to go down further through the leagues to fill the spaces on the international team.

358. Colin, you mentioned the fact that you started playing football in the street — as most of us did — and I presume that you then joined the primary school team. You then went on to second-level education, and you said that football was not really played at the school. I wonder how many of us faced that situation over the years. I thought that that was a thing of the past. I though that there was absolute choice at whatever type of second-level school pupils went to, and that they could chose the game that they wished to play and that those would be equally valued. Surely, you are not telling me that the situation that I faced 50 years ago still exists.

359. Mr Coates: When I was a first-year student at Grosvenor Grammar School, I played rugby during the week and football on Saturdays, which meant that I could play both sports. I played rugby and enjoyed it; it was a good game. In second year I was told that I would have to give up football and play rugby. I said that I did not want to do that, as I wanted to play football. The teacher at that time gave me a bit of a hard time about it and said that I would not be able to become involved in any other clubs in the school if I did not play rugby. My dad got on the phone and sorted it out, but it was not a nice thing to have to cope with at the time. Again, it is another barrier, and school should not be a barrier. However, it goes on, and it put me off a few different things in school.

360. Mr K Robinson: Do you think that there is a leakage of potential? Are good, brilliant, or even outstanding soccer players being lost to the game because they come up against some of the barriers that you have described?

361. Mr Coates: Yes. At the same time, those involved in rugby would argue that they could lose potential rugby players. That argument was used in Grosvenor Grammar School. There were a lot of guys in my situation. We had a rugby B team that played during the week and it was almost as good as the A team, since there were so many guys who were good athletically but they missed out on playing rugby because they wanted to play football. The issue needs to be looked at, because I did not enjoy the situation.

362. Mr M Boyd: I am 10 years older —

363. Mr K Robinson: I was just going to tell Michael that that was a barrier to sport. Is that situation being addressed?

364. Mr M Boyd: Funnily enough, I also went to Grosvenor Grammar School. I am 10 years older than Colin, and I was also blackmailed; I was told that if I did not play rugby, I would not be able to play for the football team. That has been happening for a long time.

365. The Chairperson: I am sure that your former teachers are keen to be associated with your success. [Laughter.]

366. Mr Coates: I bumped into the same teacher not so long ago, and he asked me for a Northern Ireland shirt to put on the wall in school.

367. Mr K Robinson: He has seen the light.

368. Miss McIlveen: I taught at Grosvenor, and I had nothing to do with this. [Laughter.]

369. Thank you for coming. Colin, I am glad to see that you are recovering. We were at a council meeting the night that your dad had to rush away, and we felt guilty about keeping him there.

370. I will ask the gender question. How many women participate in football? Do you have any figures on that?

371. Mr M Boyd: I do not have an exact figure handy, but the number has increased dramatically, which is down to the good work of the association’s women’s football department. We did not have a women’s football development officer 10 years ago, but we now have four staff working in the women’s football department. There were only 12 senior teams 10 years ago, and now there are more than 40.

372. Interestingly, the biggest area of growth has been in primary schools, much of which has been down to the soccer role models courses that the women’s department runs. In those courses, senior players from the international side go into primary schools and coach children. The courses are not just about football; there are positive health messages about staying involved in football, and there is a role-model aspect, hence the name. Women’s participation has probably been our fastest area of growth over the past 10 years.

373. Miss McIlveen: Is that growth due to specific targets set by the IFA?

374. Mr M Boyd: To be honest, it is down to the initiative show by Sarah Booth, Alfie Wylie and the women’s football department, who have set targets and developed a specific strategy for the women’s game. There was some negative stereotyping about women’s football, and the soccer role models course was designed specifically to address that.

375. The course happens in both primary and secondary schools and has started to address that issue early on. The role models course does not only emphasise playing opportunities and pathways, it also puts across the positive health messages about staying involved and relays how staying involved in education has empowered the players on the senior team.

376. Women’s participation has been an area of massive growth. I can get the figures for you; I just do not have them handy at the moment.

377. Miss McIlveen: It is interesting that you say that you have increased participation. In your presentation, you cite a number of barriers, including the timing of events, poor facilities and lack of crèche facilities. Are you trying to address those issues?

378. Mr M Boyd: The women’s football development officers are very bright and have developed a Futsal programme. Futsal is an adapted game of five-a-side football, which is massive across the rest of the world and is technique and fun-based. The women’s department have developed a Futsal programme, which runs at times that suit young women. That project was piloted in the Shankill, and there was a massive response, so it is being rolled out across Northern Ireland. The women’s department is leading the way in the development of Futsal. Futsal was identified because it suited women’s lifestyles. That is an example of a project that has been very successful.

379. Lord Browne: I represent East Belfast, and I am delighted that it continues to produce players of international standard such as Colin.

380. Mr McNarry: You would not think that there is an election coming up. [Laughter.]

381. Lord Browne: I am delighted that Crusaders has been very successful over the past number of seasons, because that provides competition for other teams, some of whom I support.

382. In your presentation, you referred to a recommendation that DCAL should look into the possibility of seconding senior civil servants to governing bodies of sporting organisations, such as yours, to support the mainstreaming of good relations and co-ordinate the role that you can play in the community cohesion and social inclusion policy. You referred to the Scottish model. Do you think that that could be successful here? What are the chances of that happening here? Do civil servants have the necessary expertise to play a role?

383. Mr M Boyd: I believe so. As football has developed, the IFA has delivered many messages on health and community cohesion. Traditionally, football has not been very good at lobbying or building up partnerships with government, and the step you have described would be very healthy for football and government, as the targets set in the IFA’s strategy cut across many different Departments. Football could support many of the main government messages on health, community cohesion and social inclusion, and could be a very good partner. It would be a win-win situation; it would co-ordinate football’s efforts a little better; and, from the point of view of the IFA, would help challenge the negative perceptions of football. I said to Colin on the way to today’s meeting that the IFA is undertaking a great deal of good work at a grass-roots level, which the wider public do not really know about. If someone from government were seconded to the IFA, that person could tie-in with the different projects that the IFA is involved in. It would also help with sustainability and a more strategic co-ordination, which, in turn, would also help the community.

384. The IFA’s new strategy is about the value it can provide to the community, and if that partnership could be established more could be achieved. The position the IFA wants to reach as an organisation cannot be reached without the support of the Committee, DCAL and Sport NI. It is about developing partnerships in a meaningful, open and transparent way to benefit the entire community.

385. Lord Browne: I attended one of the IFA’s primary school events, which was an excellent way of ensuring that children participate in sport and stay healthy at a later stage in life.

386. Mr M Boyd: The IFA recently met with Matt Baggott and discussed the journey the PSNI has undertaken, midnight street soccer, a value-based culture and the health messages that could be sent out. The PSNI is very keen to partner with the IFA on different initiatives regarding community safety and policing, but the IFA feels it has more to give and that more partnerships could be developed to benefit football and the wider community.

387. The Chairperson: Does the IFA have any specific partnerships with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety?

388. Mr M Boyd: The IFA has been speaking to that Department through its child protection unit, but that was more of a getting-to-know-you exercise than an establishment of a specific structured partnership.

389. Mr McCarthy: I thank the witnesses for their presentation, and I congratulate the IFA on the work it has been doing. Michael, you mentioned the issue of grants earlier. Do you think that the balance in the distribution of funding between elite and community sport is correct to increase participation in sport and physical activity?

390. Mr M Boyd: That is an interesting question. The majority of the work the IFA carries out is in the area of mass participation. I do not have the figures at hand on the breakdown of funding across the two different areas, but it would be interesting to examine them.

391. Moving forward, there will be more investment by the IFA in the community. We have approximately 30 primary school coaches who teach the fundamentals of the sport in the community and put out healthy messages. We also have 16 grass-roots development officers who are based in the councils throughout Northern Ireland. Those officers are out and about in the community doing work with all sorts of community groups, many of which we have mentioned today. There is a significant investment in that area.

392. However, my main area of concern is the sustainability of funding. The IFA currently relies on two- or three-years grants, which have allowed it to build up trust with communities and to put programmes in place, and it is worrying that that work may suffer if funding were to be withdrawn. The IFA wants to work in partnership with government on a sustainable basis to have a maximum impact in the community. It wants to help the likes of Crusaders FC with its excellent community programmes, get into the heart of the communities, reach those groups that are harder to reach and establish a sustainable 10-year strategy rather than the current two-or three-year plans.

393. Mr McCarthy: Should more funding be directed towards the community rather than the elite sports?

394. Mr M Boyd: If it can secure more funding, there is willingness on the part of the IFA to put investment into the community, because it is a win-win situation for the IFA and the communities it works in. If there are more structured opportunities, the IFA will have more players to select for the league, and there will be more of a sense of belonging and more people will want to play for us.

395. The IFA’s mission statement is about using the message of Football for All for mass participation, but it is also concerned with the pursuit of excellence. Both the community and the elite sides are given equal priority.

396. Mr McCartney: Again I thank Michael and Colin for their presentation to the Committee. Prior to the meeting, I said that I saw Colin being interviewed with Stephen Baxter. His footballing skills are excellent, but his diplomatic skills are even better. [Laughter.]

397. I have an observation on which Michael and Colin may wish to comment. It is about the role that governing bodies play in changing people’s attitudes. My fear is that if that role were led by a Department, or something less than the governing body, the impact would be minimised. If some of the best initiatives, such as “Show Racism the Red Card” had been led by a government agency, they would not have had the same impact.

398. Schemes that change peoples’ attitudes to physical activity, such as the midnight soccer initiative, which I have seen in my city, have a better chance of success if a Derry City footballer turns up to promote it, rather than government agencies, well-intentioned as they are. When the local club attaches itself to an initiative, young people are automatically attracted to it. What role do you feel that the governing bodies should play?

399. Mr M Boyd: It has to be a partnership approach. Much of what you have said is correct. The IFA and the clubs have to take ownership of their community initiatives, but a partnership approach is needed with government Departments to create sustainable plans. We have nothing to hide in our motivations to engage with the community.

400. The guy in Scotland is on secondment as a member of the Scottish FA for the two years. He is the point of reference so that government can liaise with the appropriate people in football to make the best use of the available funding on all of the initiatives that are coming through government, including in health and in cohesion. An open partnership such as that can only benefit local clubs.

401. We are developing clubs as community beacons and trying to help Irish league clubs to develop community business plans. That process could be aided greatly if we had a link with government through one specific point of contact that could liaise across Departments to support the clubs-as-community-beacons programme. From that point of view, it seems much more strategic for partnership work to have someone on secondment to help with such initiatives.

402. Having someone at the heart of the IFA who would see what we are trying to achieve strategically and being able to feed that back would also help with communication and would benefit the communities and the clubs that we are trying to support. I understand what you mean. I think that it would not dilute the ownership; it would strengthen it, because more resources and funding would be coming in to support the right projects. The important thing is that we support the right projects and the right people. The IFA can identify those people and groups, but we need government support to plan in the longer term and to invest in the leadership that exists in the community.

403. Mr McCartney: It would be a sense of giving the governing body the freedom to do what it feels it has to do, rather than being curtailed by government strategies.

404. Mr M Boyd: Yes. It would have to be managed well, but we are open to the idea. I agree that it would have to be managed on the basis of an equal partnership.

405. The Chairperson: I thank Michael and Colin for an excellent presentation.

406. Mr M Boyd: Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Committee today.

18 March 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Mr David McNarry (Deputy Chairperson)
Lord Browne
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney

Witnesses:

Mr David Boyd
Mr David Humphreys
Mr Shane Logan

Ulster Rugby

407. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): I formally welcome the Ulster Rugby representatives. The team is headed by the chief executive, Shane Logan. I will hand over to Shane to make an opening statement and to introduce his colleagues and outline their roles.

408. Mr Shane Logan (Ulster Rugby): I thank the Committee for inviting us. I am the new chief executive of Ulster Rugby. I have been in the post for only six weeks, so forgive my lack of familiarity with the subject. It is probably a good time to meet given that, as the Committee is trying to determine strategy, so am I. I am accompanied by David Humphreys, who is the director of the professional game, and David Boyd, who runs the domestic game in Ulster.

409. The Chairperson: Thank you. It is over to you to make an opening statement. You have provided a written submission, so you may make a brief statement, following which members will ask questions.

410. Mr Logan: Given that we are the third group of witnesses today, I will cut to the chase and refrain from going through the written submission part by part. I will outline what we think the answer is rather than engage in a lot of analysis.

411. Ulster Rugby aims to make Ulster the best rugby region in the world bar none. We want to be better than any region in Ireland — Leinster and Munster have perhaps moved ahead of us recently — in GB and in Europe, which is the stage on which we play. Furthermore, we want to be better than our rivals in the Super 15, namely Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. To do that, we must be excellent at all levels and must double involvement in the game. The Committee’s aim to increase participation is exactly what we must do. We must increase participation by at least a factor of two.

412. About 30,000 people play rugby. That does not include people who play a game of touch rugby, referees or people who are involved occasionally. It refers to people who are registered with us as regular participants and are insured as such. We need to increase that number to around 60,000. As far as we are concerned, and based on what has worked previously, the answer is to set a target to double participation, to make Ulster Rugby accountable, and to provide the funding for us to deliver that.

413. In the past, we have received good funding and community development funding that has enabled us to bring the goodness of rugby to groups that are not traditionally touched by it, such as girls, areas outside traditional state grammar schools, older people and communities that do not traditionally play rugby. That has worked well. However, it has not all been sustainable. We would like to be set targets by the Assembly to at least double participation and to be held accountable for the long-term sustainability of that. We want joint targets, for which we are responsible; long-term funding for revenue and capital; and long-term accountability for the delivery of a result.

414. In the document that we have submitted, members can see the breakdown of the current participation levels, including the numbers of schools that are participating. There are questions about how to define participation. We have the same issues as other sports about female participation, transition from under-18 participation to adult participation, and participation among the over-35s. I do not propose to go through those unless members have any questions.

415. The Chairperson: Thank you very much, Shane. In your submission, you refer to young men, women over 20 and people over 35 having lower levels of participation. What precisely is Ulster Rugby doing, or planning to do, to increase participation among those groups?

416. Mr David Boyd (Ulster Rugby): We refer to males aged between 16 and 20 to distinguish between adult and non-adult because our biggest single problem is getting the numbers of young people that we have at under-age level to go into the adult game. We have no difficulty, through school and youth rugby, to encourage people to play the game, but there are social and other issues, which we expand on in our submission, that prevent us from converting youth players into adult players and sustaining that progression.

417. Having looked at the issue, we have concluded that our competitions are probably the best way to achieve that aim. This year, we have specifically identified an under-19 league. We researched the situation and discovered that there was a problem with progression from under-18 rugby to adult rugby because the under-18 rugby was played on a Saturday morning and there was no engagement with the adult population of the clubs. When the under-18 players moved across, they felt that they were not welcome, and they had not transcended that. We have developed a league that will straddle that divide and play its games on a Saturday afternoon. In that way, the players will become part of the club environment and, by the time they move into adult rugby, will know the people with whom they are playing. We are conscious of the figures in our submission and the fact that we have to try to move greater numbers of young people into the adult game.

418. We are conscious of the social issues that affect the participation of young people of that age in all sports. We have also identified the issues that exist in women’s rugby. All girls are introduced to female rugby through a non-contact variation of the game, but only a few of them choose to go on to the full contact version because of the nature of that game. However, there are other variations that they can move into, and we are satisfied that we will be able to run a dual strategy for female rugby, with a contact version and a non-contact version. We are looking at anything that will help to resolve those issues.

419. Mr Logan: Ulster Rugby has not set out a five-year or 10-year strategy that outlines the numbers that we want to achieve. We are working it out on the hoof, and, as David says, our strategic intervention has taken the form of changes in our competition structure. We have to hold ourselves and the clubs accountable for numbers. The addition of women’s seven-a-side rugby as an Olympic sport gives us the chance to have a competition structure that will bring through greater numbers, now that the seven-a-side game is to be an internationally-recognised competition.

420. Mr McNarry: You are welcome, gentlemen. Congratulations on your appointment, Shane. I wish you all the best. We will do anything that we can to help you. You will need to leave a bag like the one that the IFA left. [Laughter.]

421. Last week, we heard evidence from people who emphasised the necessity of increasing professional coaching in virtually all sports. Do you have an opinion on that? In answering that, will you say what value you put on volunteer coaching?

422. The research before the Committee indicates that people with disabilities, those living in socially deprived areas and members of ethnic minorities all have lower levels of participation in sport. What is Ulster Rugby doing to address their needs?

423. Mr Logan: Professional coaching and the value of volunteers are not mutually exclusive; we need both. Rugby is an open game ranging from fully professional to fully amateur, and we need more professional coaches and volunteers and to improve the quality of each. If we are going to be the world’s best — Ulster is currently ranked twelfth in Europe — we must improve the quality of coaching throughout the game, because we need the amateur domestic game to produce, on a production line basis, the future provincial and international players.

424. I have come to Ulster Rugby from running a charity for the blind, and I am acutely aware of the under-representation of both the disabled and the socially deprived. I am also aware of the enormous benefit that sport can bring to people engaged in it and the fact that it can liberate and fulfil potential. I used to run a running club for blind people every Friday afternoon, which was enormously successful even for chronically disabled people in wheelchairs who were simply pushing themselves about or being pushed about. I do not know whether Ulster Rugby currently has a plan for those who are disabled and who are disenfranchised, and I will ask David Boyd to come in on that point. However, if Ulster Rugby does not have such a plan, it will be introducing one because that is part of my roots.

425. Mr D Boyd: If that question had been asked three or four years ago, we would have said that it would be very difficult to introduce rugby for the disabled because of the nature of the sport. However, we were proven wrong by a group of very enthusiastic parents who put together a team of children with learning difficulties, which is known as the Newforge Tigers. They asked Ulster Rugby to come on board, and we put our staff — staff members who were then employed under the DCAL grant for community rugby — through a specific training programme to deliver rugby for the disabled. That form of rugby has flourished among children with learning difficulties. Ulster Rugby is acutely aware that there are different categories of disability, some of which can be catered for within rugby and others which cannot.

426. There is a brand of rugby called tag rugby, which is a non-full contact form of the sport in which the nearest that participants come to tackling other participants is pulling a tag around their waists. That form of rugby has proved to be immensely popular. Over the past two years, Ulster Rugby has made a point of bringing the Newforge Tigers and visiting teams from England to Ravenhill to take part in competitions at half-time, and the response from the crowd has been immense. On the first occasion that the Tigers played at Ravenhill, two benefactors approached them immediately after the game and each gave them a cheque for £1,000, because they were so impressed by the enjoyment that was being instilled by the children on the pitch.

427. Ulster Rugby is now working in six special schools throughout the country to deliver that programme. I have alerted the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) that this is an express train that is coming down the line at us and that we need a national policy in respect of the disabled. Ulster Rugby is working in that area and will continue to explore every available opportunity.

428. Mr Logan: Rugby will be a fully inclusive sport here. Ulster Rugby will have a plan for it and will cause it to happen by having deliverable targets. Having come from that background, I am fully committed to the benefits that it brings not just to those with a disability and those who are deprived but to those who would consider themselves to be in the mainstream. We must pull both together.

429. Mr McNarry: You said that Ulster is twelfth in Europe at the moment. I do not know where it sits in the world rankings. You also said that you have a goal of being the world’s best, and I am not going to ask you when you hope to achieve that.

430. Mr Logan: In eight to 10 years.

431. Mr McNarry: That is fantastic.

432. Mr Logan: And Europe’s best before that.

433. Mr McNarry: That really is brilliant. In working towards that goal, do you see all the aspirations involved and embraced in that rubbing off down the line in all the other things that you want to attain? In other words, not just having Ulster as the world’s best rugby team but being the world’s best at presentation, in tag rugby, etc.

434. Mr Logan: Yes, totally.

435. Mr McNarry: Is all of that encompassed in the brand?

436. Mr Logan: Yes, we have to be as one. We cannot have one part of the game thriving without the whole game thriving. We believe in rugby; we believe that it brings discipline and goodness. It has transcended the conflict here because of the way that the structure allows for an Ulster game and an all-Ireland game. It appeals to all segments of society. For us to be the world’s best and for people to come from around the world to see what we are doing, we have to be excellent on every front, including the commercial front. We have to appeal to disadvantaged groups and people with disabilities and to the communities and schools in which rugby has not been played before. We have to be excellent in relating to and working with other sports to pull the whole of Northern Ireland up. We are ambitious across the whole range, because the body will only be strong together. It will not be two thirds strong or half strong.

437. Mr McNarry: That is good enough for me. Thank you.

438. Lord Browne: With regard to increasing participation, do you think that the balance is currently correct in the distribution of funding between the elite and the community sides of the sport?

439. Mr Logan: Do you mean public funding or commercial and private funding?

440. Lord Browne: Will you talk about public funding first?

441. Mr Logan: I do not know whether the balance is correct, but the funding for the amateur game is much greater than that for the professional game. If, as we hope, we get the stadium sorted out and move quickly, that may be redressed. We do not yet have a plan in place to show how we will get to being the world’s best. When we produce that plan and look at the funding that is required to achieve that goal, I will be able to give a better answer.

442. Mr D Boyd: My perception is that the funding that goes to the professional game from the public sector is largely for facilities. The funding that comes into the domestic end is revenue funding, which supports staff who are involved in the development of the game. Both are equally important; without one we cannot have the other.

443. Mr David Humphreys (Ulster Rugby): When I started playing for Ulster, I would never have seen people wearing Ulster shirts or playing with a rugby ball in the street. Based around Ulster’s limited success in the late 1990s and Ireland’s success in the past decade, children can now be seen playing rugby everywhere. Achieving the level of participation that we are talking about is linked to that success, and the professional game has to drive that by providing a profile of rugby that people want to play and to support. It must provide role models for young kids to come through.

444. Lord Browne: In the past, rugby was probably seen as an elite sport. I went to a school at which I was not allowed to play soccer. Are you breaking down that perception?

445. Mr Humphreys: In my view, there is no question but that that is the case. People from a wide variety of sports will come to watch rugby on a Friday night at Ravenhill. We talked with the GAA representatives before the meeting, and they have noticed that a lot of their supporters have been coming to our games. The influence of the professional game is lessening the perception of rugby as an elite sport.

446. Mr D Boyd: There are 32 traditional grammar schools in Ulster of the type to which Lord Browne referred. We have 120 affiliated schools, and we are working in many more outside that affiliation. Around eight years ago, the balance was the other way around. There is now a huge demand in the non-traditional area.

447. Mr Logan: We want the public sector to view funding as an investment, not as a subsidy. We jointly require a return on that investment, because it is the only way that we will get sustainability. Funding should not simply be to subsidise our activity; it should be to gain improvement and results on long-term participation. I will be critical and say that that has not happened sufficiently. Every pound that the Assembly invests must gain a return, and we must be aligned to that return. The investment cannot be to subvent us; it must be for us to move forward.

448. Mr McCartney: Thank you for the presentation. David said that he noticed more people playing with rugby balls in areas where that had not been seen in the past. Is the idea of having development officers in non-affiliated schools to turn those schools into affiliated schools?

449. Mr D Boyd: Absolutely, and, as I said, that swing has come. The sector in which participation is really growing is primary schools. Until perhaps two years ago, we did not have an affiliation brand for primary schools. Having the primary schools on board is linked to the overall insurance cover that we provide in respect of the sport. The interest shown at primary school level, particularly through the tag brand, has really grown. Most certainly, at the moment, demand exceeds our capability to deliver.

450. Mr McCartney: At the time that rugby went professional, there was a fear that it would become a very professional game, as it has done, and that there would be a fall-off in participation. However, that fall-off does not seem to have materialised. The opposite seems to be the case, with more people interested in playing and watching rugby.

451. Mr Humphreys: There is no question about that. From my point of view, we have to look 10 years down the line to get to where Shane wants us to be. If we are to achieve that, we have to widen the base from which we select. The restrictions that are placed on us by the IRFU mean that we cannot just go out and sign 21 international players from around the world. At any one time, we are allowed to have only five non-Irish qualified rugby players representing Ulster. Therefore, to be able to fill those spaces with good quality international players from here, we have to go into communities and schools from which we have never attracted players before. I went to a primary school coaching session at which there was a rugby school, a football school and a GAA school. As a result of the skills that are coached at GAA schools, its players were the best at all three sports. We recognise that and we know that the future of rugby in Ulster is based around getting people from every area involved.

452. Mr McCartney: There are approximately 18,000 registered under-18s, and then there is a drop-off. Is that number a result of the work that you have done and have you noticed a drop-off when people leave school?

453. Mr D Boyd: The drop-off is because of the issues that we have identified, including the demands that are placed on young people. Young people, who would have been included in our figures while at school, come out of a regimented school system and have to be self-motivated to attend training on a Tuesday night as opposed to doing it as part of the school curriculum. That is only one issue. The fact is that all sports are suffering at that age group because more people in that age group have to get part-time jobs to sustain their lifestyle and so on. It is a common factor and one that we are trying to address by accommodating young people and making them welcome in our clubs to make life a bit easier for them.

454. Mr Logan: We need to improve the quality of what is on offer in the clubs, and we have a lot of work to do with clubs to raise standards of facilities, inclusion, aspiration and results.

455. Mr McCartney: David, there has been debate over the number 10 shirt in the Ireland team for as long as I can remember. Is it Sexton or O’Gara for the next match? [Laughter.]

456. Mr Humphreys: I think that you will see Sexton in that position for a long time to come.

457. The Chairperson: I was going to ask about Ian Humphreys’s beard, but I will not now. [Laughter.]

458. Mr Humphreys: Barry, I used to ask him about it every day.

459. Mr McCarthy: Thank you very much for your presentation, and congratulations, Shane, on your appointment. I wish you every success, and I hope that your ambitions for Ulster rugby come true in the next eight to 10 years. I look forward to that.

460. What would be the one change in government policy that you think would have the biggest impact on increasing participation in recreational sport?

461. Mr Logan: Funding that is linked to result — aligned results. For the sake of argument, if there are 30,000 participants in rugby, a contract would say that for x amount of money we would deliver 60,000 participants. That would be one simple plan with clear accountability that, to be blunt, should not be delivered through the councils or through programmes with hit-and-miss outcomes. Alignment of targets, accountability for targets, and sufficient money to generate those targets would have a big impact.

462. Mr McCarthy: That is very interesting.

463. Mr McCartney: You are advocating that that should be led by the sporting body rather than by the councils.

464. Mr Logan: Yes. The councils have many roles, not just sport. Our exclusive reason for being is Ulster rugby, and it is the same with the other sports. We are focused on that and on nothing else, whereas councils exist to do a whole stack of stuff.

465. The Chairperson: Are there any accredited schemes for rugby clubs that drive up participation? In the context of the GAA, there is a scheme called club maith, and to achieve that accreditation a club must drive up participation, increase the number of volunteers and make better use of its facilities. Is there any scope for developing that or is it something that the GAA has learned from you?

466. Mr Logan: I have met with Danny Murphy and the GAA and also with soccer representatives. The GAA is five to eight years ahead of us. The GAA and, indeed, rugby clubs in Leinster and Munster do a lot of good work, and we need to get to their level. The answer to your question is that there is scope, and we have started work in that regard.

467. Mr McNarry: In what ways are you working to increase family involvement? We talk to mothers and women generally who want to get interested in sport. Mothers have a problem in that they have children to look after and — I do not want to sound sexist — other roles that are different from those of men. Some women are active in sport at a young age but then drift away from it after they get married or have children. Other sports seem to be intent on involving the whole family unit and bringing together the children, the mother, the granny and so on. Do you do that? Do you need to broaden your horizons? Do the clubs have the facilities for that, or do they require the necessary facilities? Are there specialised coaching, organisation and skills courses for the family?

468. Mr Logan: You are absolutely right. We need to ensure that we have the right offering that will be attractive to all the principal groupings. We will not attract the whole family if we rely on our traditional offering for younger people and, in particular, young males. Broad-based involvement and broad-based support is essential to our growth. We probably do not have that offering, and we certainly do not have the necessary facilities. I am making it sound as though the situation is all doom and gloom. However, an awful lot of good work is being done as regards club accreditation and broadening what we offer.

469. Mr D Boyd: Our first point of contact with the family group is when parents bring their children to mini rugby. We are conscious of trying to get people involved, and we encourage our clubs to have welcome packs and so on. There was an old tradition that clubs got mothers on board to become members of their catering committees. Obviously that tradition has gone, and we have learned from it. A growing number of females now use their administrative talents to become club secretaries and so on.

470. Total family involvement is slightly more difficult, but we are conscious of the need to bring in some of those mothers to participate in the women’s game. There are various brands of the game, and they can be brought in at the non-competitive, fun level. That process is in its infancy, and, although women’s involvement in rugby is not growing dramatically, it is growing steadily year on year. We are trying to get women involved in coaching, and there is absolutely no bar to them doing that. Indeed, we would like more involvement from women, and, if we can overcome that difficulty, we will start to accelerate the process.

471. Mr McNarry: You should keep pushing on the matter. At Committee, we have noticed a trend in women voicing the fact that they want to become involved.

472. Mr D Boyd: Absolutely. Barry asked about accreditation. The old sports council abandoned its clubmark scheme six or seven years ago. However, in consultation with the council, we formed our own club recognition scheme. It was supported by a DCAL grant to encourage involvement. In the five years that the scheme has been running, 47 of our 55 clubs have attained at least the bronze level — there are bronze, silver and gold levels — and various degrees beyond that.

473. The Chairperson: Is participation one of the qualifying indicators?

474. Mr D Boyd: Very much so. It is not as relevant at the bronze level, which ensures that clubs comply with the law and child welfare legislation. Participation becomes a factor at the silver and gold levels. That is rolling further now. In recognition of the scheme’s success, the IRFU is about to launch a Q mark that will build on our lead and expand the scheme to all four provinces. Moreover, Sport NI has recently relaunched the clubmark scheme, so we will work in parallel with it, too.

475. The Chairperson: If there are no further questions, I will offer Shane the opportunity to make a final comment.

476. Mr Logan: Thank you very much for giving us a hearing. We are keen to engage. We can only be the world’s best if we are fully aligned to and fully engaged with the Committee. We need public money to be spent on the stadium and on the sport. We have common goals, and we are accountable for their delivery.

477. The Chairperson: Thank you very much Shane, David and David.

15 April 2010

Members present for all or part of the proceedings:

Mr Barry McElduff (Chairperson)
Lord Browne
Mr Billy Leonard
Mr Kieran McCarthy
Mr Raymond McCartney
Mr David McClarty
Miss Michelle McIlveen
Mr Ken Robinson

Witnesses:

Mr Nelson McCausland

Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure

Mr Ciaran Mee
Mr Philip Spotswood
Mr Colin Watson

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure

478. The Chairperson (Mr McElduff): Good morning to the team. I welcome the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Nelson McCausland, who is joined by three senior officials from the Department; Colin Watson, head of sports branch; Ciaran Mee from sports branch; and Philip Spotswood, who is the deputy principal statistician. Minister, please make an opening statement after which I will invite members to ask questions.

479. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Mr McCausland): Thank you, Chairman. I thank the Committee for the opportunity to make a presentation as part of its inquiry into adult participation in sport and physical activity.

480. I have been following the Committee’s deliberations on the matter with considerable interest, and I am aware of many of the presentations that it has received. I am also aware of the extensive evidence gathering that the Committee has undertaken as part of its inquiry; in particular, its recent stakeholder consultation forum, which was held on 25 March 2010. I greatly welcome the Committee’s interest in adult participation in sport and physical activity as it is an issue that deeply concerns me, as Minister with responsibility for sport and recreation in Northern Ireland.

481. In my foreword to ‘Sport Matters: The Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation’, I identified the need to halt the evident decline in adult participation in sport during the past 10 years as a key early priority for the strategy. Beyond that, and within the lifetime of the strategy, I have set a target to increase participation rates from the baseline that will be established in 2011. It is an ambitious goal.

482. As I point out in the foreword, according to the latest published evidence, Northern Ireland has one of the lowest rates of sports participation in the United Kingdom, and that rate is falling. The Committee will know from the evidence that it has gathered as part of its inquiry that the causes of low participation are multifaceted. There is no quick fix and no one-size-fits-all solution. Addressing the problem requires commitment, resources, vision and the collaboration of all. In short, and, again, as I said in the foreword, it requires a sea change in attitudes and culture.

483. The obvious questions are: why is this necessary? What is to be gained from improving participation rates in sport? Are there not more pressing issues? One can start to answer those questions by pointing to some of the presentations that have already been made to the Committee as part of its inquiry. The Committee has rightly uncovered, and, indeed, often focused on, compelling evidence of the vital contribution that physical activity makes to health and well-being. In that respect, I note that the British Medical Association, in its presentation to the Committee at the beginning of March, identified sport, as a form of physical activity, to be one of the most practical and beneficial areas to look at.

484. The Sport Matters strategy puts the position very starkly. It recognises the link between regular lifelong participation in sport and improved mental and physical health. It quotes evidence from a variety of sources which suggest that, unless we act to address the problem of physical inactivity across our population, we will, in all likelihood, face an obesity epidemic with potentially enormous ramifications for health services and life expectancy in Northern Ireland.

485. In addition, there are the problems resulting from mental ill health. The Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health estimates that the cost of working days lost to mental ill health in Northern Ireland may be as much as £125 million a year. However, research undertaken as part of the development of the Sport Matters strategy suggests that sport and physical activity can contribute positively to mental health, through improving self-esteem, reducing anxiety and combating depression.

486. For all those reasons, I feel that it is right that the 11 participation targets in the Sport Matters strategy deliberately and purposefully aim to achieve improvements in sports participation rates that fit with the UK chief medical officers’ recommendations in relation to healthy physical activity. For adults, the recommendation is currently 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity at least five times a week. I assure you, we did very well on that front recently, when the lift in DCAL broke down and was switched off. We had to climb nine flights of stairs. I was able to get to level 6 before I had to stop, which was not too bad.

487. Critical though the health issues are; it is important that we do not lose sight of the other significant benefits that well-structured sporting and physical recreation activity brings to society and to the individual. For example, sport is a net financial contributor to the economy, and its economic value is firmly established. Recent figures suggest that spending on sport contributes approximately £450 million to the Northern Ireland economy, or 2% of the gross domestic product. Activity tourism alone contributes around £30 million a year. There are an estimated 14,000 people employed in sport and physical recreation industries in Northern Ireland. Sport also contributes significantly to local communities. For example, sports volunteers make up the largest part of our voluntary sector. As such, sport has the potential to serve as a key vehicle for promoting community development, good relations, and the broader shared and better future agenda to which the Northern Ireland Executive are so committed.

488. In addition to the wider economic and social benefits, there is considerable evidence to suggest that participation in sport can contribute to children’s improved educational performance and to raising their personal self-esteem. Last night, there was an item on the news about recent research in America, which strongly reinforced the point about the benefit that participation in sport brings in improving educational performance. It has also been frequently proven to be a highly useful tool in other personal development strategies, such as those aimed at combating crime and re-engaging marginalised young people. Apart from everything else, despite its present difficulties, sport remains an intrinsic part of Northern Ireland’s culture. It is, and should be, fun and fulfilling in its own right. Interest spans the entire community, and there is evidence that people here would participate more if barriers could be removed and the right opportunities provided.

489. As Minister, I want to play my part in ensuring that those opportunities are provided. Sport Matters emphasises the importance of improving opportunities for participation, by improving sporting choices and offering more multi-sports options. That requires us to continue to look at ways in which our larger and better known sports can be supported and made more accessible to the whole community. However, it also needs to be recognised that not everyone will wish to take part in those particular sports. Therefore, there is an obligation on us to do what we can to widen the range of sporting choices available. For example, there are 80 recognised governing bodies of sport active in Northern Ireland. That represents a huge potential opportunity and choice to our population. One of my priorities therefore is to look at what can be done to better exploit that opportunity and thus create greater scope for individuals to find and take part in the sports that best suit them. In my view, that is a key element in driving up participation rates.

490. Obviously, none of that can be delivered without effective and properly-targeted investment. Members will also be aware of the current budgetary environment. However, contrary to some suggestions circulating publicly, I am pleased to say that I have been able to use Sport Matters to make the case for not just protecting existing investment in sport, but to place it on an even stronger financial footing than in the previous year. Specifically, I have secured a £2 million increase in Sport NI’s resource budget compared to 2009-2010 and a £7 million increase in the capital budget above that originally indicated in the comprehensive spending review for 2008-2011.

491. As Sport Matters makes clear, neither DCAL nor Sport NI has the capacity to singlehandedly deliver the change needed. Success is dependent on clear leadership, co-ordination and effective partnership working involving all interests and stakeholders. As Minister, I intend to provide that leadership and ensure effective collaboration. With that in mind, I recently established a Sport Matters monitoring group, which I will chair and will seek to oversee the implementation of Sport Matters. I hope to hold the first meeting of that group on 13 May. It will bring together senior representatives of Departments and agencies responsible for sport, health, education, social development, local government and the environment. Under my chairmanship, it will ensure that the buy-in needed from all partners and stakeholders is secured. It will approve, monitor and evaluate detailed action plans and ensure their implementation. Important though that is, I believe that in order to succeed, buy-in must go beyond monitoring groups and meetings.

492. As the Committee will be aware, Sport Matters estimates that an additional £134 million will be needed over the next 10 years to achieve all the aims of the strategy. It also recognises that no one organisation can singlehandedly meet that shortfall. All public, private and voluntary stakeholders have a role to play. However, it is important for central government and the Northern Ireland Assembly to set the example. If the Executive are to fulfil their commitments to sport and physical recreation in Sport Matters and deliver the wider benefits, Ministers and Departments need to look imaginatively at ways of supporting each other practically and financially. Discussions on that subject are ongoing between my officials and their counterparts in the Department of Education and in the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS). Moreover, I recently wrote to the Minister of Education to ask whether she is willing to meet me and Sport Northern Ireland to discuss ways in which we could jointly improve collaboration in areas such as physical education (PE), school sport and community sport. I await her response.

493. Assembly Committees have an important part to play in encouraging greater collaboration on the issue in government and between Departments. This Committee and those that deal with health, education and social development have a role to play in that respect. Under Sport Matters, I am committed to publishing periodic progress reports on implementation. I am also happy to share those reports with the Committee and to arrange for it to be briefed on them. Through Sport Matters, I want to not only preserve our sporting culture but to cultivate it and strengthen it now and for the future.

494. In short, I want Northern Ireland to realise the vision of Sport Matters, which is a culture of lifelong enjoyment and success in sport. It is huge challenge to deliver that vision. There are no easy answers, and there will be many obstacles along the way. However, the prize of a healthier, more prosperous, more educated, more equal, more fulfilled and more peaceful community is too valuable to lose. It is our chance to show that Northern Ireland has truly come of age.

495. The Chairperson: Sport NI told the Committee that £700 million will be required to implement the strategy for sport over the next 10 years. What is the Department’s view on the likely availability of such funding? Does the Department intend to prioritise the strategy for sport over other business areas in the coming years?

496. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Officials might want to comment on the precise nature of that £700 million. However, it is not all new money; much of it is already in the system. The shortfall — if it can be described as such — is £130 million over 10 years. However, that will come from a variety of sources and not simply from the Department. We consider the issue to be cross-departmental and believe that it not only involves central government, but local government and other sectors also. The additional £130 million that we will require over the next 10 years will come from a range of sources.

497. Mr Colin Watson (Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure): That is the case. There is an opportunity to raise funding through central government, local government, the private sector, the voluntary sector and sponsorship. Sport Matters considers how to maximise funding from various sources. Furthermore, Sport Matters is not solely about participation in sport; it is about healthier lifestyles and physical activity. We want to encourage a culture change and healthier lifestyles through whatever funding we can get.

498. Mr K Robinson: I thank the Minister and his officials for the presentation. Minister, I am conscious that there is almost a divergence with respect to what you are attempting to achieve through the various agencies. The emphasis seems to be on sport. Physical activity is part of the conundrum too. For example, I am involved with the Newtownabbey Way, and a cycle and walking path has opened recently from Whiteabbey through the centre of Newtownabbey. When it was officially opened, I was amazed to discover that there is already a 30,000 footfall over one of our bridges. That represents a significant number of people who are not engaged in sport but who are engaged in physical activity. That costs about £1∙5 million. I wonder about value for money and whether we have taken the correct path.

499. Furthermore, the purpose of this inquiry is to get the people we most want to get involved in physical activity to keep up with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice of participating in exercise five times a week for 30 minutes, yet most of them live in areas that are inundated with fast food outlets. There is a mixed message here. As the lead Department, will the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) consider an active advertising campaign, perhaps along the lines of lines of the anti-smoking and road safety campaigns, to get that general message out to the public?

500. There are 80 recognised sport governing bodies: we almost have the situation in which there are a number of introverted people who are, rightly, only interested in their sport, want to see their sport expanded and get the money do so, which is fantastic. However, it seems that there is a vast reservoir of people who could be tapped into fairly quickly if their mindsets were changed through an advertising campaign. They could be encouraged to engage in physical actively locally and more regularly. Should we not try to break that barrier first?

501. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: I think that the issue you are focusing on concerns the health aspect.

502. Mr K Robinson: It is physical activity.

503. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The advertising campaign you suggest would be more the responsibility of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. That is why we are working in a cross-departmental way. We are trying to bring together the different Departments so that everyone brings an area and money to the table.

504. Mr K Robinson: Do you see what I am driving at? We require a change in mindsets, and if it requires the Health Department to take the lead, that is fine. However, what can you do to get more bangs for the bucks and get more people involved in physical activity?

505. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: I agree with your point that any form of regular exercise, whether formal or casual should be encouraged. However, the benefits of regular exercise are clearly best delivered and sustained in a properly structured way, rather than just casually. That is one of the reasons why sports club membership is one of the participation targets in the Sport Matters strategy.

506. Having said that, we recognise that there is clearly a role to be played by all of the Departments; and by local government, which is responsible for the parks that are the places where people regularly go to walk, jog and run. That is why the cross-departmental approach envisaged in the Sport Matters strategy is so important. Formal and informal types of physical activity are equally important.

507. Mr K Robinson: I notice that your departmental official is emphatically nodding his head in response to what you are saying.

508. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: I am glad to hear it.

509. Mr K Robinson: You have spoken about participation being informal, but I can assure you that there are groups, particularly of young ladies who have obviously got the message that they must go out and shed some weight and keep fit. They may not be wearing the same vests or walking at the same time, but it is getting harder and harder for me to walk, because I keep encountering groups of young ladies, who are much fitter than me, and cyclists who want to use the footpath at the same time as me. Those people are a resource to be tapped into, and you are preaching to the converted to a large degree.

510. That should be expanded across society, and those areas that seem to attract the fast food bars should be particularly targeted. If you were to go by the number and range of hot food outlets in parts of Newtownabbey you would think that some folk there cannot cook at all. We all know the dangers involved, and the Health Minister also has a role to play. However, will you consider the groups of people who engage in physical activity informally, or unstructured as you say, and how we might build on their example so that it is copied by others.

511. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The point is well made, and there certainly is an overwhelming case for promoting all types of activity whether formal or informal. As long as people are active, they will receive the health benefits.

512. Mr McCarthy: Thank you for your presentation, Minister. I totally admire the sentiment, as must everybody. We wish you every success in bringing the policy to fruition as early as possible. I think that I know the answer to my question, but, in view of what you said to Ken Robinson, I will ask it anyway. In Scotland, areas of responsibility for health and sport are linked in the same Department. Do the Minister and his officials believe that that would be beneficial here in getting the message across that sport and physical activity have major health benefits for everyone, and for society in general?

513. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The reorganisation of Departments is a broader political issue. However, we can address the crossover between health and sport and recreation through good departmental co-ordination. Yesterday, some of my officials met officials from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Department of Education. Therefore, the cross-departmental approach is under way and will be to the fore much more in future.

514. Mr McCarthy: Do you see that coming-together benefiting everyone concerned?

515. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Although there is crossover for all of them, education, health and sport could obviously not be put into one Department. In a system such as that which we have at Stormont, the best idea is to involve all relevant Departments, as well as others with a more tangential role to play. The more Departments that bring something to the table, the better.

516. Lord Browne: I thank the Minister for his presentation. It is interesting to note that you referred to minority sports. Members will agree that the three mains sports — soccer, Gaelic and rugby — get attention and have high participation levels.

517. Minority sports are sometimes forgotten. However, they must be highlighted, because many people participate in them. People often approach me in my constituency in search of recognition and funding for their sports; therefore, it is an area of concern. To understand why, one need only think of the success that Northern Ireland has had in Commonwealth Games and Olympic Games in minority sports such as ice skating, shooting — Jim Shannon is no longer on this Committee — and cross-country running, as well as on the track. I would like to see our policy widened to address the needs of those minority sports. Does the Minister have anything in mind to help people who take part in them?

518. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Minority sport is a very important area. I have found it interesting to attend a range of events over recent months in which people have demonstrated for me, or informed me about, their particular sport. Most people do not realise the range of sporting activity that there is in Northern Ireland. The fact that there are 80 sports governing bodies gives some indication of that. Moreover, some sports do not even have a governing body.

519. If we concentrate too much on the three main sports — football, rugby and Gaelic — there is a danger of limiting people’s involvement, because none of them is their sport of choice. Doing more to make other sports available right across the Province will have a significant impact on participation levels.

520. I have been looking at minority sports and talking to a number of their representatives, and they need and deserve more encouragement and support. There is a danger of the larger organisations being dominant and of others being somewhat marginalised and forgotten. We must be absolutely certain that all sports get the level of support and the profile that they deserve. For instance, I was not aware of the number of Northern Ireland schools and their pupils participating in fencing at the UK School Games.

521. The list of governing bodies includes DanceSport Northern Ireland, and I am glad to see that the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society is also listed. The most important thing is to get people to engage in physical activity, whether that be dance or rugby. I am particularly interested in generating support for minority sports and raising their profile. They may not have the infrastructure of larger sports or a large, well-resourced umbrella organisation, so we need to work with them in particular, and we will do so.

522. Lord Browne: Many witnesses pointed out that schools are not required to offer a set amount of physical education activity per week. You referred, Minister, to the fact that you asked the Department of Education to look into the matter. I understand that, at present, there is simply a recommendation for two hours of physical recreation a week. Do you think that that is enough, or will you recommend that the Department of Education make it compulsory or increase the amount of time spent at physical activity?

523. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The figures from the Education and Training Inspectorate indicate that around 25% of children get two hours of physical recreation a week, which means that 75% of children do not. Setting ourselves the target of getting children up to two hours a week would be a good start, and that was in the Department’s mind during its conversation with, in particular, the Department of Education. We will be talking to the Department about that.

524. Mr Leonard: Welcome, gentlemen. It was good to hear the Minister’s presentation, which provoked many thoughts about imagination, culture change, breaking down barriers and so on. I do not mean to be negative — this morning’s discussion has been positive — but I am worried about the implication that sport is better if it is structured, which is a reflection of the points made earlier and of the emphatic nod of support in that direction.

525. To improve health and increase participation, we must take account of the whole sports spectrum, from organised sport to casual activity, and if we do not have a catch-all arrangement that organised sport and the casual walker or cyclist can buy into, we will have difficulties.

526. You also said that the health aspect of sport should be emphasised in advertisements. That worries me. I appreciate the findings of the cross-departmental working group, but if we are to sell some sort of catch-all arrangement to the public, organised clubs and an individual cyclist or walker must feel part of it. I am worried that we may fall into our silos. Is it possible to sell a catch-all arrangement? I am not interested in hearing about committees. Furthermore, would the Departments and local councils buy in fully to a single selling point?

527. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: We must do all that we can to ensure buy-in across the board — at local government and every other level. I cannot promise anything. All that I can say is that we will do out best to ensure that there is buy-in. However, there is an onus on local authorities to ensure that they are making proper provision, and there is an onus of sports governing bodies to ensure that they are fit for purpose and doing all that they can to support the sport for which they are responsible. There is a range of participants in the partnership.

528. I emphasised promoting health in advertising campaigns because, bearing in mind that a large percentage — not far short of 50% — of the Budget goes on health, DCAL’s budget is extremely small in comparison. Therefore, there is potential for co-operation with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. People often talk about partnership and cross-departmental working, but that is of value only if one brings something to the table. DHSSPS can bring certain things to the table. So, too, can the Department of Education, such as those facilities that are attached to schools. Billy has discussed the need to open up schools more so that their facilities can be used not only by children but by the wider community. Therefore, there is a range of possibilities.

529. If some misunderstanding arose over my earlier comments, I want to clarify them. I was talking about the difference between occasional activity and formal, regular activity. To achieve tangible health benefits requires regular activity. Although I might go out walking once in a while, I must confess that I am not a regular walker. I might go swimming once in a while, but I am not a regular swimmer.

530. Regular exercise can be taken as part of a team, such as group of ladies together. I noticed recently that one church’s ladies’ meeting is undertaking a walking programme over the next number of weeks. The ladies will do that as a group. Hopefully, when they get into the pattern of going walking together, they will also do it individually more regularly. Regularity of activity is of primary importance. It does not have to be done in a team, in the formal setting of a club, or whatever.

531. There should also be participation in activity across all age groups and sectors. For example, elderly people and people with disabilities should be able to participate in physical activity. The other day, we talked to those involved in sport for deaf people. A range of areas needs to be covered. We must bring everyone on board.

532. Mr Leonard: I want to make two supplementary points. I appreciate that clarification. We would worry if structured activity meant simply that which is provided via clubs. However, the broader definition is fine.

533. I accept your point about the difference between the DCAL budget and the DHSSPS budget. My worry is that he who writes the cheque has the say. The bottom line may be that a particular health aspect does not have a buy-in factor for everyone whom we want to target for participation. Therefore, as well as a budget, core ideas are needed. I am slightly concerned that there needs to be co-operation of thought, never mind co-operation of budget.

534. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: That is why we are talking about a structured committee system that brings together all Departments, whereby we sit down regularly, talk about such matters and put out a common message. If we want to encourage participation in sport, the health argument is as good as any.

535. Mr Leonard: As long as the argument does not come from a negative perspective.

536. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: I am sure that you would never imagine anything negative to come from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. I have no doubt whatsoever that its views will be extremely positive. [Laughter.]

537. The Chairperson: Minister, a number of contributors to the inquiry have said that many workplaces act as a barrier to participation in sport and physical activity. For example, many workplaces do not provide changing facilities for people who want to cycle to work or exercise at lunchtime. Does DCAL provide changing facilities and bicycle storage for its staff? Given that Departments are major public sector employers, what more can DCAL do to take the lead in setting an example of how employers can encourage their staff to do more exercise?

538. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: My understanding is that, at present, there are no such facilities in the DCAL building. The Department does not actually own the building; it belongs to someone else. Switching off the lift is a good way in which to encourage activity. Perhaps Colin can come in on that issue.

539. The Chairperson: I would like you to also bear in mind the Department’s arm’s-length bodies. More than 80% of its functions are devolved.

540. Mr Watson: Absolutely. I believe that when we moved to the Causeway Exchange originally, there were plans to provide such facilities. It is matter for land and property services division. All kinds of funding issues, and so on, are involved. As well as that, one must take into account the facilities that are available in the area around the Causeway Exchange. Other government buildings have access to such facilities. You must also understand that, as civil servants, we have access to a fantastic sporting facility down the hill from here. It is 20 minutes up the road from Belfast, so staff can drive up and go out for a run, and it has changing and shower facilities.

541. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: People could cycle up to it.

542. Mr Watson: People could cycle up — or even run up. However, they would have to run up, exercise, take a shower, then run back down, and then take another shower, so they might be going round in circles. As civil servants, therefore, we enjoy a wide range of facilities.

543. Sport Northern Ireland has facilities in its building, so its staff can go out for runs. It also has changing facilities. As a Department, we encourage all employers to try to provide facilities for their workforce.

544. The Chairperson: Has DCAL adopted the Bike 2 Work scheme?

545. Mr Watson: I do not think that we have bought into that yet. However, we have only been in our building for around nine months. People are still trying to find their way to and from work and places to park.

546. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The point is made.

547. Mr McCartney: Thank you for your presentation, Minister. I also thank the other witnesses who contributed. I welcome the Minister’s idea about cross-departmental working and the monitoring body. That is a welcome step forward.

548. In earlier evidence sessions, the Assembly researcher used Finland as an example of a country where there was a very noticeable increase in physical activity and a decrease in heart trouble, and so forth. It struck me that Finland has designated floodlit walking areas. In a parochial sense, despite the excellent leisure facilities in Derry city, there are no designated floodlit walking areas. The GAA and the hockey governing body talked about how some of their pitches have walking facilities around the edge of the pitches or the perimeter of the premises. When parents take their children to sporting facilities, they tend to sit in the car park and wait, rather than drive home and back again to pick them up.

549. To return to the point that Wallace made about schools, new leisure facilities should have designated walking areas, because walking is the easiest type of physical activity to get into. There are excellent running tracks and outdoor football pitches, so it would not cost much to install floodlights. More people walk during the summer. In the winter, they do not walk for safety reasons and owing to the weather. Are there any plans for the future?

550. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The Finnish example and other examples of successful change in Scandinavia and elsewhere were based on recognising the need to bring about a major cultural shift in attitudes to sport and physical activity. Essentially, those countries created an environment that supported and valued physically active lifestyles, so there was a change of culture, ethos and mindset. Investment was focused on participation and taking a long-term view rather than a short-term one. In fairness, all those issues are key elements in Sport Matters.

551. To come to your point about walking areas, two matters occur to me. There would certainly be a strong case to be made for something of a formal nature. It should certainly be considered. There is also an informal aspect to consider. Whether the word to use is walkability or permeability, how we design our cities is important, because design often deters people from walking. I attended a Smart Growth conference in America some years ago and came across international work on how to design cities to encourage walking. It can be about how buildings are designed so that there are more windows on to a street, which will mean that people are not deterred from walking down a street that has dark walls and no light.

552. In the formal setting, as you described it, yes, there is a case to be made. There is possibly a longer-term issue of changing the planners’ mindset so that we make our cities and communities more walking friendly. Where we locate facilities in communities is also important. Community planning, when it comes more to the fore, will have a role to play.

553. Mr McCartney: Members will be aware of the incident that occurred in Strabane the other day. Grass pitches might be used once or twice a day, but such sites would be used more often if there were walking paths around them. That additional usage might push out the people who are drinking on those sites in the evenings. Some £25,000 is to be spent on a new surface, but if imagination were to be shown in the future through the laying of, for instance, a walking path, it might offset two problems.

554. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The more that people walk in parks, the more that others see it, and, ultimately, walking becomes the norm, and others will be encourages to do likewise.

555. The Chairperson: Has DCAL considered how it could use its other arm’s-length bodies to include a focus on increasing participation levels? It could, for instance, encourage the Arts Council to fund more projects that combine the arts with physical activity, or use public libraries as a tool to promote the message that physical activity is necessary as part of a healthy lifestyle. Is DCAL using libraries and talking to Arts Council representatives?

556. The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: In the context of the 2012 Olympic Games, the Cultural Olympiad brings together culture and sport. We are starting to look at how one might bring cultural and sporting activities together.

557. You mentioned libraries. Libraries and other facilities are a good place to get a message out. They can be used for advertising poster campaigns and activities and for showcasing aspects of sport. We should use every vehicle that is available. However, I add this caveat: you are right when you say that 80% of our budget goes to arm’s-length bodies, but, even when it is all brought together, it makes up a very small part of government. The biggest return will be achieved by bringing in other Departments, particularly the Department of Education and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. If we get full buy-in there, we will start to see delivery.

558. The Chairperson: There are no other questions. I thank the Minister and his team for attending this morning’s Committee meeting.

Appendix 3

List of Written Submissions
to the Committee

List of Written Submissions to the Committee

Belfast Healthy Cities

Big Lottery Fund

Breast Cancer Rehab Initiative for Living Life

British Medical Association Northern Ireland (BMA NI)

Committee for the Environment

Countryside Access & Activities Network (CAAN)

Craigavon Borough Council

Damien Crowne

Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)

Department of Education (DENI)

Department for Employment and Learning (DEL)

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investments (DETI)

Department of Regional Development (DRD)

Department of Social Development (DSD)

Fitness Northern Ireland

Irish Football Association (IFA)

Irish Rugby Football Union Ulster Branch

Irish Sports Council

Irish Women’s Indoor Bowling Association (All Ireland)

Moyle District Council

N. Ireland Volleyball (NIVB)

Northern Ireland Association of Aeromodellers

Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA)

Older people’s Advocate

Public Health Agency

RNIB Northern Ireland

RSPB Northern Ireland

School of Health Sciences University of Ulster Jordanstown

SkillsActive

Sport Northern Ireland

Sports Council for Wales

Sportscotland

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society Belfast Branch

Ulster Angling Federation Ltd.

Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association (Ulster GAA)

Volunteer Development Agency

Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP)

Appendix 4

Written Submissions
to the Committee

Belfast Healthy Cities

Healthy Cities Belfast.ai

Submission to Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity, Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure - April 2010

Belfast Healthy Cities welcomes this opportunity to contribute to the Committee’s Inquiry into participation in physical activity and sport. Physical activity is important both for individual and societal wellbeing, and it is very timely to explore the reasons behind limited participation, and ways to increase this.

Belfast Healthy Cities is a partnership organization working to improve the health and wellbeing of people in Belfast and beyond. Belfast is also a leading WHO European Healthy City, designated to Phase V (2009-2013) of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network with a strong track record of meeting WHO objectives in the previous four phases. Key partners include Belfast City Council, Public Health Agency, Belfast HSC Trust, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Bryson Group, and Queen’s University of Belfast.

The key aim of Belfast Healthy Cities in Phase V is to integrate health and health equity in all local policies. The work of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network in Phase V builds on the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, which identified improved living conditions and a fairer distribution of assets, resources and power as key to sustainable health and wellbeing, as well as long term prosperity of all countries. The role of Belfast Healthy Cities’ office, as a focal point for intersectoral collaboration and liaison with WHO, is to identify mechanisms and tools for achieving this as well as building and sharing evidence to support the work.

This submission will aim to outline how increasing participation in physical activity can contribute to a number of strategic aims. With regard to solutions, it will focus on ways of increasing access and participation across the population, which can be tailored to specifically support groups with lower levels of participation. Belfast Healthy Cities would be pleased to expand on any theme in the submission, should the Committee find that helpful.

Our comments are based on a social approach to health, which defines health as the outcome of people’s physical and social living conditions and is illustrated by the figure below. In short, the figure highlights that while lifestyle choices ultimately shape health, wider living conditions influence what choices are possible. Income and social status are particularly important in this regard, although their role is not immediately apparent from the figure. Income is vital as it often constrains choices and opportunities. It also influences social status, which affects people’s self esteem and belief in their ability to control and progress their life (self efficacy), which in turn affects aspiration and motivation. These factors are key to explaining why people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds tend to die younger and suffer more ill health.

The key evidence for this approach has recently been collated, globally in the report Closing the Gap by the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health and more locally in the Marmot review of inequalities in health in England. Both were chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot of University College London, and emphasise fair and equitable access to good quality environments and improved daily living conditions as key to tackling inequalities in health.

Crucially, these landmark reviews focus on improving living conditions universally, with appropriate and proportionate targeting across the social distribution. This is based on considerable evidence that more equitable countries, which emphasise universal and equitable service provision and distribution, tend to do better overall, on indicators from health to the economy.

Background – physical activity, health and wellbeing

The background paper developed for the Inquiry defines sport broadly as ‘all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels’. We would highlight the definitions used by the World Health Organization, which make a distinction between physical activity, which incorporates and can emphasise more casual and less competitive forms of activity, and sport, which is organized and emphasizes the competitive element. This distinction is important, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the competitive element is a major barrier to participation for many people.

Secondly, the organized nature of sport can be another barrier, for example for people who do not want to join clubs or who find it difficult to meet specific timetables. Thirdly, more formal and competitive physical activity and sport carries an increased risk of injury and may have limited additional health benefits, compared to the WHO guideline of a minimum of 30 minutes moderate intensity activity on most days.

Physical activity, in the broad definition, is vital for health and wellbeing. Its most obvious role is to prevent and treat obesity, which increases the risk of many serious conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and stroke. Over half of Northern Ireland’s adult populations are now overweight and a quarter obese, while childhood obesity also is becoming increasingly common. This is a major concern, both from a public health and an economic perspective. Foresight, the UK government’s scientific excellence programme, has estimated that if current trends continue, about half of the UK population will be obese by 2050, which will cost the UK economy £50billion per year. This involves public costs through increased need for healthcare and potentially increased demand for benefits due to incapacity to work, and private costs to employers, such as lost productivity and increasing sick absence from work.

Physical activity is also important for mental health and wellbeing. It boosts mood and can support self esteem as well as self efficacy – a belief in one’s own ability to control events, which is a vital component of motivation to become active in the first place. It has been found that increasing the physical activity levels of staff within a workplace can lead to a more productive team, also increasing the motivation, commitment and enthusiasm of staff, which can support innovation. Moderate exercise can alleviate symptoms of depression, which is highly relevant as depression is a common health problem that can have serious consequences for the wellbeing of affected individuals and their families. Mental health problems are also a major reason for long term absence from work; for example in the Northern Ireland Civil Service, between 25 and 30% of all sick absences are due to mental health problems. In England, it has been estimated that 25% of Incapacity Benefit claims (now Employment Support Allowance) are due to mental health problems. In addition, physical activity can slow down cognitive decline in older people, which is important in the context of an ageing population.

Finally, physical activity can support social wellbeing, through creating opportunities for social interaction. This, in turn, strengthens social cohesion, which supports mental wellbeing and can also have concrete benefits in the form of stronger informal control mechanisms within neighbourhoods and reduced incidence of anti social behavior. Especially walking and cycling can support this, since these forms of activity create life on the street and lead to natural surveillance, which can both improve people’s sense of safety and encourage greater use of the street.

In short, physical activity can contribute significantly and in many ways to the core aim of developing a prosperous Northern Ireland. To identify potentially effective interventions to increase levels of physical activity, however, it is important to understand who participates and who does not, and what the key barriers are. It is particularly important to examine any inequities in participation or access, as such inequities contribute significantly to other unequal outcomes, for example to inequalities in health. Identifying inequities is also vital as a basis for developing appropriate measures to tackle these. However, as outlined above, the most effective interventions are typically aimed at the whole population, with additional focus on specific groups as appropriate.

1. Groups with limited participation in physical activity and sport

The background paper developed for this Inquiry outlines the key groups with limited participation that Belfast Healthy Cities also would highlight. There is a vast body of literature identifying these groups as having limited participation, and there are also some Northern Ireland based statistics that concretely highlight these trends.

Data from the Health and Social Wellbeing Survey carried out in 2005-06 indicates the following:

Statistics on participation in physical activity by socioeconomic groups is not immediately available through surveys carried out in Northern Ireland, but data from the Health Survey for

England indicates that people in the lowest equivalised income quintile are also least likely to meet physical activity guidelines. Data from the 2008 survey show that 40% of men and 34% of women in the highest income quintile group met the guidelines, compared to 31% and 26% in the lowest quintile.[2]

We would also highlight that the trends are set in childhood and adolescence, for example girls are less likely than boys to be physically active from a relatively young age. Children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are also less likely than more affluent children to participate in organized activities. It has also been shown that people who visit greenspace frequently as children are more likely to continue the habit in adulthood, and indeed pass it on to their own children.[3] Although the focus of this Inquiry is on adults, we stress that it is important to understand how the adulthood patterns develop, as a basis for developing solutions that support and enable lifelong physical activity.

2. Barriers to participation

The background paper developed for this Inquiry identifies three types of barriers to participation: socio-cultural, practical and knowledge barriers. Within this framework, the paper identifies many significant issues, such as lack of role models and perceptions about what physical activity is and who can participate. The focus is primarily on individuals and their personal attitudes and motivations. This is important, since choices are made by individuals, informed by their views and aspirations.

Social ideas about appropriate and desirable behaviour are powerful factors in this, as they affect how people think and view themselves. As the background paper notes, for example women may find a ‘sporty’ lifestyle undesirable as sport is constructed as masculine. More specifically, this image of physical activity may mean that some women have limited social support to participate, which has been shown to be a key predictor of participation, in particular for women. This may affect in particular women of lower social status, who similarly, however, less competitive or physically proficient men may be affected by a portrayal of physical prowess as a key element of male success and strength. This is particularly significant for adolescent boys, whose self esteem and lifelong physical activity habits can be harmed if they fail to meet what is presented as the ‘alpha male’ standard.

A similar argument applies to people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, as competitive sport is often linked to an affluent background and lifestyle. Media also tend to reinforce this; while there are many ‘rags to riches’ stories of sportsmen from modest backgrounds, such as Pele, or more recently Wayne Rooney, the narrative tends to emphasise their current status and also their exceptional skills, which may have limited impact as motivators for people with more ordinary talents. To protect self esteem, people may therefore choose not to participate (other than watching sport on TV). In this context, it is also notable that the car has significant value for people’s self esteem as a symbol of status, which affects levels of everyday physical activity.

There is some evidence that people in more deprived areas see walking as a marker of poverty, which makes them less willing to walk, either for transport or leisure, as it would reinforce their feelings of social inferiority.

It has already been noted, however, that people’s choices are shaped, and sometimes constrained, by their living conditions and circumstances. It is therefore important to consider also the physical or practical barriers. In doing this, access can be a useful concept in supporting analysis, as it can incorporate the key issues in one framework. Indeed, the social ideas discussed above and the psychological barriers they contribute to can be described as psychosocial access barriers.

The physical access barriers to leisure centres and gyms for people with disabilities are well documented in the background paper. Belfast Healthy Cities would note, however, that physical access also may be limited in other ways. For example, provision of gyms and similar facilities tends to be limited in neighbourhoods of lower socioeconomic status, and particularly limited in the most deprived areas (a notable exception in Northern Ireland is Belfast, where Belfast City Council owned leisure centres are concentrated in areas of higher deprivation). In addition, areas of lower socioeconomic status typically have less greenspace suitable for physical activity. The greenspace that exists is often poorly maintained and perceived as unsafe and uninviting.

Access in time is also a type of physical barrier. Limited opening hours, both of buildings and greenspaces, can prevent physical activity for people with many other commitments, with working mothers and carers key examples. As a specific example, limited availability of organized physical activity opportunities in early mornings, late evenings and at weekends can create a barrier for people working long hours, who may be disproportionately attracted to those (typically privately owned) facilities that provide extended and flexible opening.

Finally, access is affected by quality, including affordability. High quality of opportunities available, in terms of cleanliness, equipment standard and customer service by staff can significantly increase people’s willingness to use a facility, but poor quality can in itself be a barrier. For people with caring commitments, lack of crèches and other ancillary services – in a leisure centre but also generally - can often be a strong access barrier. Some people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may also find organized physical activity unaffordable. As this often occurs alongside other psychosocial and physical barriers, it can result in a strong, compound disincentive to physical activity.

In open spaces, safety is a key quality consideration. Streets and parks that are perceived as unsafe attract few people, but can in particular deter women, older people, people with disabilities and people from ethnic minority communities. The effect is often strongest in lower socioeconomic areas, and is related to the quality and maintenance of available spaces. It should be noted that high quality green and open spaces can help kickstart regeneration of an area, while poor spaces can compound degeneration, by sending negative messages about an area that deter investment and create feelings of demotivation and disinterest among residents.

3. Solutions

The discussion to this point indicates that participation in physical activity and sport is an outcome of many factors, both individual and social. The key conclusion that can be drawn is that physical and social conditions and circumstances in themselves affect participation, but also affect people’s self image, attitudes and motivation to participate. From the perspective taken here, key barriers are access related issues, lack of social support and personal attitudes, in particular self efficacy or the belief that one can control one’s own life and actions.

Evidence indicates that the very same factors are key to encouraging physical activity, when they exist in supportive form. This applies to people in general, but has particular importance for groups with lower levels of participation, who all can be viewed as having specific needs in one or more of these areas.

Belfast Healthy Cities would suggest utilising the current evidence base on factors that encourage physical activity, to develop policy and action to increase participation. A key advantage of such an approach would be that it can help increase physical activity across the population, but can be tailored and targeted to support groups or areas identified as having specific needs. This would also be in line with the key recommendations from the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health and the Marmot review, which emphasise that measures aimed at the entire population are most likely to support sustained health improvement for all, as well as sustainable prosperity for a country as a whole.

While increasing participation is a considerable challenge, Belfast Healthy Cities believes that there are important opportunities, flowing from the fact that the key barriers are around the same issues that can encourage physical activity. We believe this can indeed be helpful, as it allows concentration on the key issues. Below, we outline some directions of action that can help tackle barriers and at the same time encourage participation across the population.

We would emphasise that a package of concurrent actions is likely to be needed to have a lasting and sustainable impact. For example, reaching mothers without childcare support may require targeted outreach work in collaboration for example with children’s services, social support through motivating outreach staff and positive role models as well as concrete support, such as crèche provision at leisure centres.

Improving access

Improving access to physical activity opportunities is key to increasing participation, as this makes routine participation easier and potentially lowers the threshold to begin. As an example, the London borough of Barking and Dagenham achieved a 200% year on year increase in swimming usage when it introduced free swimming for children.[4]

In addition, improving access contributes to changing attitudes and behaviour, as it indicates that a group or community is valued within society. This can be particularly important for more disadvantaged groups, who are more likely to have low self esteem and perceive themselves as marginalized.

Measures that can support participation in physical activity by improving access include:

Utilising existing facilities for structured physical activity more creatively.

Exploring opportunities to provide services, such as classes and clubs, in community focused spaces (eg. schools, community centres or within local organizations, including church halls).

Maintaining user fees for leisure centres as low as possible, with an emphasis on affordable rates for low income groups.

Engagement with people who do not participate (in formal or informal activity) to explore reasons for low participation.

The importance of informal physical activity

As noted in the introduction to this paper, there is now strong evidence that everyday physical activity plays the greatest role for supporting health and wellbeing. Indeed, guidance from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) suggests that active travel may be perhaps the best way to increase levels of physical activity, since walking or cycling for transport can be incorporated into daily routines and is therefore relatively easy to sustain.

Increasing participation is therefore not solely, or even primarily, about providing more leisure centres or other physical buildings. The built environment in itself plays a key role, and can significantly encourage physical activity, in ways that also support health and the environment. In particular, a positive environment can encourage walking and cycling for short journeys, but it can also support ‘incidental’ physical activity, such as leisurely walks, playing in the park, gardening etc.

Measures in the built environment that can encourage physical activity include:

High quality active travel facilities

Local facilities and mixed land use

Greenspaces easily accessible from homes

Encouraging positive attitudes

While access to opportunities is a prerequisite for physical activity, encouraging positive attitudes is an important complement to strengthening access. At the individual level, viewing physical activity as beneficial increases a sense of self efficacy in this context. At community level, positive attitudes strengthen social support, which in turn is essential for many individuals in groups with lower participation. This support can be practical, such as childcare, or more abstract, a type of social norm that defines physical activity as acceptable or desirable.

Above, it was noted that improving physical activity opportunities in itself is part of a behaviour and attitude change process. However, attitude and behaviour change are typically complex and long term processes, which will require sustained action in several areas.

Measures that support positive attitudes:

Social marketing campaigns

Ensuring equitable provision of resources

Providing targeted interventions

Offering and funding opportunities to non competitive sport

Big Lottery Fund (BIG)

Dr Kathryn Bell
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity,
Room 424,
Parliament Buildings,
Belfast, BT4 3XX

11 February 2010

Reference Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and
Physical Recreation

Dear Dr Bell

Further to your recent request to submit written evidence to the Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity, please find attached an overview of specific programme interventions, which Big Lottery Fund has funded.

The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been distributing grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by an act of Parliament on 1 December 2006.

Big Lottery Fund (BIG) has run a series of programmes each of which works towards our mission of being committed to bringing real improvements to communities and to the lives of people most in need. We are an outcomes funder and details of the areas in which we wish to make a difference are outlined below:

a. People have the opportunity to achieve their full potential

b. People can actively participate in their communities to bring about positive change

c. Community ownership of better and safer rural and urban environments

d. Improved physical and mental health for all people.

BIG’s new programmes will start to open this spring (2010) and our consultation on these programme areas, ‘Big proposals’, ran between 8 October 2009 and 15 January 2010. The programme areas we consulted on were: Older People at Risk, Younger People at Risk, Space and Place and Alcohol-Related Harm. (Space and Place will focus on increasing the use and/or the physical regeneration of currently under-utilised public spaces for communities in need across Northern Ireland).

The attached submission gives details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes related to your request.

I would be happy to provide additional information, if required.

Yours sincerely,

Walter Rader Sig.ai

Walter Rader
Director- Northern Ireland

Submission by Big Lottery Fund
Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

1.0 Background

1.1 The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been distributing grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by an act of Parliament on 1 December 2006.

1.2 In Northern Ireland, since 1994, the Big Lottery Fund and it’s legacy organisations (Community Fund, New Opportunities Fund and the Millennium Commission) have invested in excess of £480 million, providing support for more than 10,500 projects in Northern Ireland and contributing to real improvements to local communities and the people most in need.

1.3 The remainder of this paper details BIG programmes which relate specifically to the following elements of your request.

2.0 Big Lottery Fund Programmes

2.1 Awards for All provides small grants of between £500-£10,000 to help make a difference to small, local groups by funding a wide range of activities, including education, health, community activities, sports and physical recreation. This programme has funded sport and physical activities; for example through sporting clubs and community groups.

2.2 The People’s Millions is a UK wide partnership programme between the Big Lottery Fund and ITV. It was launched in June 2005, and organisations were invited to apply for grants of up to £50,000 for projects to help communities to transform, use or enjoy local environments. ITV viewers voted for the projects they would like to see funded in their local area, and to date 5 of the 22 projects supported in Northern Ireland have an emphasis on physical activity and recreation. Carrowshee Park/Sylvan Hill Community Association have been awarded a grant to improve the design, appearance and accessibility of local amenities by creating a new multi sports arena which will provide sporting facilities for local children, young people and for use by the whole community in Lisnaskea.

2.3 New Opportunities for PE and Sport (NOPES), valued at £33.75 million, aims to bring about a step change in the provision and use of PE and sports facilities for young people and for the community generally. Except for the smallest projects, wider community benefit and use are an essential part of grant schemes in the PE and Sport programme.

2.4 Projects (136 funded) include purpose built early years play areas with equipment, storerooms, changing facilities, large multi use games areas and sports halls. The facilities will support a wide range of games including soccer, basketball, rugby and gaelic games. The projects aim to increase the amount of time available for physical activity and increase the participation of all pupils before, during and after school. One of these projects is the four court sports hall with a dance studio in the Creggan area. Derry City Council, in partnership with St Cecilia’s College and Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre, was awarded £1,413,199 to build this facility.

2.5 134 of the facilities funded through NOPES are now complete and available for use. There is evidence that through this programme, there has been a dramatic and positive impact on the levels of participation in sport and physical recreation, not just among school pupils but also within the wider community, in areas where facilities have been built.

2.6 It is anticipated that the larger facilities will assist with the development of community cohesion. A number of projects have been successful in securing funding from BIG and others to provide development officers to maximise the use of these facilities. It is recognised that projects will need further support to develop community use of facilities.

2.7 Community Sport, valued at £2.4 million will develop and enhance Sport Northern Ireland’s pilot Community Sport programme. The programme’s aim is to initiate community sport development projects within Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities, through the establishment of Community Sport Development Officer and Community Co-Ordinator posts within these communities. Sport Northern Ireland managed this strand of the programme.

2.8 Active Lifestyles, valued at £2.1 million, aims to increase grassroots participation in physical activity; tackling inequalities in levels of physical activity; and contributing to the delivery of broader health and well being objectives. A number of community groups, district councils and schools were awarded grants to deliver physical activity and recreational activities such as dance, walking, cycling and multi skills clubs, to specific groups including older people and disabled people.

2.9 An independent evaluation of the Active Lifestyles programme reflects on how to encourage participation amongst groups (for example older people, young people, women and disabled people) who do not normally take part in sport and physical activity. it is important to offer activities that are not considered as sport, to use accessible venues, to involve participants in decision making about the types of activities and to ensure that physical activity includes social contact.

2.10 Living Landmarks was launched in June 2005 to fund major projects that will have a real impact on communities. The £140 million UK wide programme will support large-scale capital projects. Connswater Community Greenway secured a £23.5million grant. The project led by Greater East Belfast Partnership will use the grant to connect 379 acres of public open space, build 43 bridges and create 19kms of cycle and walkways. The project will benefit more than 40,800 people living in the area, improving the living environment and providing opportunities for leisure, exercise, recreation and supporting healthier lifestyles.

2.11 The Transforming Your Space programme in Northern Ireland, valued at £2.1 million, had three overall aims: Enhancing the quality of life of local communities, improving the appearance and amenities of local environments and increasing the development of community assets. £776,499 was awarded to projects involving physical activity facilities. For example Strabane District Council were awarded £108,000 to transform Melvin Park into a community park which includes sports facilities, play areas, environmental areas and cycle tracks.

2.12 Healthy Living Centre programme, valued at £13.5 million, aims to deliver services that respond to public health priorities – often using innovative approaches. The programme also aims to address issues related to inequalities in health. One project, Women Into Sport and Physical Activity, was awarded a grant of £225,815 to promote sport and physical activities among girls and women in the Greater Shankill area.

2.13 The Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) programme through small, medium and large grants has invested £2,550,883 in sport and physical activity related projects. This has included funding projects which have delivered outdoor adventure, physical recreation and sport. The VCS programme has supported both capital and revenue projects.

2.14 The Green Spaces and Sustainable Communities initiative provided lottery funding to help communities understand, improve and care for their natural and living environments. Creating Common Ground Consortium (NI) delivered the programme through two complementary elements. The open grants programme awarded just over £863,000 to projects involving physical activity facilities. The 40 Communities Programme targeted 40 of the most disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland, contributing to 130 schemes throughout these communities. The projects include multi-use courts and play areas.

2.15 There are projects funded through a number of our other programmes, such as Reaching Communities Northern Ireland and Safe and Well, which include participation in physical activity as an element but this is not the primary focus of the project.

Belfast Health Trust
The Breast cancer Rehab Initiative for Living Life

A Feasibility study - The Post Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Scheme utilising patient self-referral: a cross trust collaboration initiative 2008/09

This project was initiated by members of the Belfast and Northern Trust multi-professional cancer rehabilitation teams.

1.0 Introduction

1.1 The Belfast and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust support services identified an area of unmet need in the overall management of the patients with cancer. This need is supported by the survivorship agenda which recognises the requirement for care beyond that of cell kill. Internationally it is recognised that true patient-centred care must encompass all patient’s needs, and prepare them for life either with cancer or after cancer.

1.2 Research has shown that cancer patients perceive many barriers to exercise and many are frightened to move out of the protected “patient” labelled existence (e-mail attachment: Blaney J. et al 2007). This project was designed to assess the feasibility of using exercise classes to promote a move to a more active and healthy lifestyle for this population.

1.3 As such, the two trust teams developed this project in partnership with local stakeholder groups including:

2.0 Rationale

2.1 This project encompasses the ethos of the NICE (2004) Improving Supportive and Palliative Care for Adults with Cancer which identifies the physical and psychological impact that cancer and cancer treatment can have on an individual’s ability to carry on with their usual daily routines. The Manual for Cancer Services 2008: Rehabilitation Measures and the current Cancer Action Team rehabilitation project support the move towards the management of cancer as a chronic disease with life-long issues.

2.2 Survivorship, whether for those cured from or living with cancer, is supported by the 2007 Cancer Reform Strategy (CRS) and dedicates a chapter on “Living with and beyond cancer”. Lymphoedema and brachial plexopathy are identified as common examples of long lasting and potentially debilitating problems. The National Cancer Survivorship Initiative (NCSI), a work programme from the CRS, is currently being taken forward in Great Britain by the NHS Improvement to support this agenda. This includes 18 test community sites which are mapping current adult survivorship pathways and evaluating the potential to provide care in a fundamentally different way. Projects have included group rehabilitation projects delivered outside the healthcare setting e.g. dragon boat racing and low impact physical activity.

2.3 The regional Service Development Unit is currently reviewing rehabilitation services. One of the planned outcomes is to increase therapeutic group work and reduce one-to-one sessions creating a more flexible and efficient rehabilitation model. This project supports both the national cancer and local modernisation objectives.

3.0 The programme

3.1 This programme has been run in mainland United Kingdom and has been recognised as gold standard follow-up care for this patient group. Research demonstrates that a healthy lifestyle, with increased activity and improved diet, will prevent further cancers and promote health. It will also help to prevent or reduce potential post breast cancer related problems such as lymphoedema and frozen shoulder. As such, the programme aimed at improving physical and mental well being in a comfortable and supportive setting. The programme consisted of a series of 10 weekly exercise and educational (2 hour) sessions in a non-hospital based location with 10 patients attending each set of sessions. The combination of the three non-hospital settings allowed 30 patients to be involved in the trial.

3.2 The transfer from hospital site to leisure facility was designed to help the patients move from illness to health (physically, psychologically and socially). The initiative is recognised as an introduction to new and various forms of non-contact exercise which may inspire participants to change their own individual lifestyle practice. It also provided a non-clinical setting for an informal support network for the patients themselves.

3.3 The weekly class consisted of:

4.0 The process

4.1 Permission was sought and gained by the relevant trust directors and referring consultants, both surgical and from the Cancer Centre. Breast cancer was agreed as the potential patient group as recruitment would be easily accessed by dedicated Clinical Nurse Specialists, Physiotherapists and radiotherapy support staff. The examples of potentially debilitating conditions mentioned in the CRS also relate directly to breast cancer. Funding was agreed from various sources with the Belfast Trust Health Improvement Team sponsoring the Belfast group, and the Ulster Cancer Foundation and trust breast cancer charity sponsoring the Northern trust group. LA Fitness also donated equipment and guest passes.

4.2 The team also agreed:

5.0 Outcomes

5.1 Demographics

The majority of the participants were married, of a professional background and had an average age of 54.9. The majority had had surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 53.4% reported moderate fatigue on commencement of the programme.

5.2 Patient satisfaction tool

5.2.1 All patients completed a satisfaction questionnaire to ascertain how they perceived the whole experience, ranging from information provision, scheme design/content and personal experience. The results fully supported the project design and have provided excellent feedback for potential expansion or alternatives in future programmes.

5.2.2 One participant stated that while she had “started the programme as a patient,” she had “finished as a “whole person again”; the project had supported her through the lull of the “after treatment” phase and reduced her requirements for formal psychological input. It also highlighted the need for post cancer treatment non-medical follow-up as part of survivorship management.

5.3 Outcome measures

5.3.1 The FACT B and Decisional Balance tools had been selected to give an overview of the programme’s effectiveness. The scheme had not been designed to assess an improvement in fitness, but instead an improvement in quality of life.

5.3.2 There were marked improvements in all of the FACT-B total subscales of physical, social, emotional, functional and breast specific from baseline to post-intervention. However, only the functional and physical subscales were significant on the paired t-test (0.01, 0.03 respectively). Regarding the total FACT-B scores, there was a significant increase in QoL scores from baseline to post-intervention of 9.050 which was highly significant on the paired t-test (0.009). The eta squared statistic (0.30) indicated this was a large effect size. These findings indicate that the intervention had an overall positive impact and improved participants QoL.

5.3.3 The decisional balance did not show a significant change and reflects that the scheme asked for patient self-referrals. This demonstrates a previously determined mind set for self-led development by this patient group.

6.0 Project Summary

6.1 This cross-trust cancer survivorship pilot scheme has demonstrated true partnership working across many agencies including PPI. The outcomes from an investment of £900 have been immense. The patient group all reported subjective and objective positive outcomes from the interventions, and have been enthusiastic about the scheme being shared with other trusts. This improvement in quality of life and the reduction of need for institutional care represent factual gains regarding holistic care and resource management.

7.0 Future potential develop ments

7.1 The project team plan have brought this model to the Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICaN) to highlight this evaluation and recommend developments linked to the regional other cancer units: Ulster Hospital Dundonald, Craigavon Area Hospital and Altnagelvin Area Hospital.

7.2 The team has recently developed an introductory link with the Healthwise scheme based in Belfast leisure centres to assess the feasibility of initiating a similar re-conditioning programme for cancer patients that is commonly established for other long term conditions, such as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation. Embedding such a programme would facilitate a return to pre-diagnosis status and re-engagement with the working population.

7.3 The University of Ulster Physiotherapy Research team are liaising with Macmillan and local healthcare professionals to investigate the feasibility of running a formal post-cancer treatment holistic assessment and rehabilitation clinic to build on the work of three UUJ PhD projects which have identified the role of exercise in the management of cancer-related fatigue – a debilitating side effect of cancer and its treatments.

28th January 2010

Belfast Health Trust-2.psd

Belfast Health Trust
The Breast cancer Rehab Initiative for Living Life

Belfast Health Trust
The Breast cancer Rehab Initiative for Living Life

Belfast Health Trust -3.psd

British Medical Association for Northern Ireland

16 Cromac Place, Cromac Wood, Ormeau Road, Belfast, BT7 2JB
T 028 9026 9666 F 028 9026 9673
E gmagee@bma.org.uk

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Our Ref: 12/02/EXTNI 12 February 2010

Dear Dr Bell,

The British Medical Association is a professional organisation and trade union for the medical profession across the United Kingdom, with over 140,000 members in the UK. BMA(NI) represents around 70% of the medical profession in Northern Ireland.

BMA(NI) welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Inquiry into Sport and Physical Activity from the perspective of doctors and our response is attached in the accompanying paper.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has a long term interest in the health of the public and is concerned about the problems we are facing in Northern Ireland, in common with the rest of the UK, through a combination of lack of exercise and a poor diet. We believe that one of the single most effective ways to improve the health of the population would be to get those who are inactive to improve their activity levels.

Physical activity has a key role in health and well-being, and primary health care provides the ideal setting for this. A range of evidence based referral options for use by primary care practitioners should be considered such as the ‘Exercise on prescription’ scheme (for example, reduced cost/free access to local authority sports centres).

Halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity will require a cross departmental approach. For example, one of the main barriers to increasing physical activity is the built environment. Transport is an essential activity but since the second half of the 20th century there has been a sharp decline in walking and cycling levels in the UK and a rapid expansion of car use.

The BMA support active travel initiatives which can be promoted through the built environment by prioritising pedestrians and cyclists, investing in public transport and traffic calming measures.

BMA(NI) would welcome the opportunity to discuss our submission in more detail. Please contact myself at the address above in the first instance.

Yours sincerely,

Gráinne Magee
Assembly and Research Officer

British Medical Association for Northern Ireland

Written evidence to the Culture, Arts and Leisure Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

12 February 2010

1. Introduction

1.1 The British Medical Association is a professional organisation and trade union for the medical profession across the United Kingdom, with over 140,000 members in the UK. BMA(NI) represents around 70% of the medical profession in Northern Ireland.

1.2 The BMA(NI) welcomes the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee’s Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity and appreciates the opportunity to respond to this from the perspective of doctors.

2. Physical Activity

2.1 The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines physical activity as “all movements in everyday life, including work, recreation, exercise and sporting activities.” Many people believe that only vigorous exercise or playing sport counts as healthy activity. Short periods of moderate activity throughout the day are as beneficial to health as a single sustained session of activity. [1] Examples include walking or cycling instead of travelling by car or taking the stairs rather than taking the lift.

3. Benefits of Physical activity

3.1 There are a number of positive health benefits associated with physical activity. Moderate physical activity, including walking and cycling, is protective against obesity, diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, and mental illness.[2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Keeping active can also help with coping with feelings of stress and mental wellbeing.[7] Lower risk of colon, breast and lung cancer has also been linked to physical activity.[8] Weight loss is most effective and maintained long-term when physical activity in daily life is incorporated into the weight loss programme.[9]

3.2 Older people are more at risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and depression, and physical activity is both a risk factor and treatment for these conditions.[10] The BMA web resource Health and Ageing (2008) outlines the health benefits of walking and cycling for older people, and recommends that doctors should encourage physical activity in older people. Walking can also protect against osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density, and can increase mobility and reduce slips, falls, and resulting bone fractures, in older people.[11] Regular physical exercise is preventative of cardiovascular diseases [12] and is also recommended for improving patient outcome after stroke.[13] In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can also improve mental well-being, for example, by reducing the feeling of isolation if exercise is undertaken as part of a group. The increased oxygen flow to the brain, brought on by physical activity can improve mental awareness. This can help with memory and problem solving.

4. Physical Inactivity- negative impacts

4.1 Activity levels have declined in the past 30 years, and the majority of children and adults in the UK are not physically active. [14] [15] [16] The negative health effects of a sedentary lifestyle are as severe as the effects of a poor diet, which is more widely recognised as a damaging health behaviour.[17] [18] A sedentary lifestyle is often associated with other damaging health behaviours such as smoking and poor diet.

4.2 It is recognised that the fundamental causes of obesity are a lack of physical activity and poor diet and the impact is significant. In Northern Ireland 59% of adults and 26% of children are overweight or obese.[19] Worryingly, data from the Northern Ireland Child Health System in 2004/05 found that 22% of children are either overweight or obese, with more than 59% already obese. Inactive people are at risk of being overweight or obese which increases the risk of other medical conditions.

4.3 In terms of physical inactivity according to the NI Health and Well Being Survey (2007) only 30% of adults in Northern Ireland meet the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity recommendation that for an average sedentary adult, at least 30 minutes of cumulative, moderate physical activity every day or on most days of the week, is sufficient to obtain health benefits.[20] The figures are stark with more than 2100 deaths per anum in Northern Ireland can be attributed to physical inactivity. [21]

4.4 Obesity is estimated to be causing around 450 deaths each year in Northern Ireland with a cost of around £500 million to the economy.[22] It also places additional demands on the health and personal social services. Tackling obesity could save the health service in Northern Ireland £8.4 million, reduce sickness absence by 170,000 days and add an extra ten years of life onto an individual’s life span.[23]

4.5 The BMA is concerned about the problems we are facing in Northern Ireland, in common with the rest of the UK, through a combination of lack of exercise and a poor diet. There are many reasons why we have become less active. Some people choose to be active for general health; for others the motivation may be physical fitness, weight control, social contact or just enjoyment. Those who remain inactive invariably give reasons such as: not enjoy playing sport at all (40%); Not having enough time (26%); Being unfit (21%), Having no interest (20%) and feeling too old (19%).[24]

4.6 Attitudes to physical activity may also be influenced by barriers such as a lack of opportunities to participate, concern about personal safety or in accessing parks, sports and leisure facilities, footpaths and cycle lanes. Public attitudes may be a barrier to increasing activity levels. Most people tend to overestimate their activity levels and underestimate their unhealthy behaviour. Awareness of the health benefits of regular physical activity on preventing obesity is very high, though fewer recognise its relationship to cardiovascular disease, diabetes or cancer (95%). [25] [26]

5. BMA Policies

5.1 The British Medical Association (BMA) has a long term interest in the health of the public and believes that one of the single most effective ways to improve the health of the population would be to get those who are inactive to improve their activity levels.

6. Childhood obesity

6.1 Although this Inquiry focuses on adult participation in sport and physical activity, as with all lifestyle issues, it is important to establish good habits as early as possible and to support the retention and development of those habits in later life. Prevention is better than cure. Regular physical activity in childhood and adolescence is protective against osteoporosis in later life, and should be a health priority at all life stages.[27] Studies have shown that overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults and obesity during adolescence has been found to increase mortality rates during adulthood. There is a need for effective intervention programmes for children, including those that enable children to be physically active.

6.2 The BMA recommends that:

7. Exercise on Prescription

7.1 GPs are well placed to identify patients whose health could benefit from a more active lifestyle. The GP’s surgery provides an opportunity for large numbers of individuals to receive advice and information on exercise and healthy lifestyles, particularly as most people respect the advice their doctor gives them. However, one of the issues GPs face is referring patients to appropriate services and assessing the long term impact of programmes. There needs to be clearer guidance and advice as to the most effective ways of losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

7.2 The Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee recently published its Inquiry into Obesity report[28] and recommended that the DHSSPS, in conjunction with the Health and Social Care Board develops a range of evidence based referral options for use by primary care practitioners.

7.3 The recognition that physical activity has a key role in health and well-being, and that primary health care provides the ideal setting for this has lead to a huge growth in the popularity of “exercise on prescription”. It allows general practitioners and practice nurses, as well hospitals to refer suitable patients to programmes of exercise on the Health Service. The first exercise on prescription was used by a GP in 1983.[29]

7.4 Schemes operate in a variety of ways, though typically they involve partnership between health trusts and local leisure services and is a valuable mechanism for reaching a wide range of groups – including people with mental health problems, older people and disabled people. For example in Birmingham, since the scheme started in 1994, “Exercise on Prescription” has had over 22,500 people referred to the scheme by their GP and approximately 3,500 people join each year. [30]

7.5 More serious attention should be given to exercise promotion to improve health and reduce costs.

8. Built environment and transport

8.1 One of the main barriers to increasing physical activity is the built environment. Transport is an essential activity, connecting people to shops, employment, healthcare services, family, community, and recreation. Since the second half of the 20th century there has been a sharp decline in walking and cycling levels in the UK and a rapid expansion of car use.[31] [32]

8.2 At its 2009 Annual Representative Meeting (ARM), the BMA reiterated its support for active travel initiatives, and recommended that:

8.3 Active travel can be promoted through the built environment by:

9. Conclusion

9.1 The BMA(NI) believes addressing the levels of physical activity among adults in Northern Ireland will require cross departmental approach. We urge every department to recognise that they have a crucial role to play either through direct action or through policies and practices. The BMA(NI) welcomes the development of the ten year Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation in Northern Ireland. We recognise the potential the Strategy has to contribute significantly to increasing levels of physical activity and counteract growing obesity prevalence. We are concerned about the ongoing delay in finalising and implementing this strategy.

9.2 The BMA(NI) would be willing to discuss this response with you, and looks forward to working with you in the future.

For further information please contact:

Gráinne Magee
BMA(NI) Assembly & Research Officer
16 Cromac Place Ormeau Road BELFAST BT7 2JB
Tel: 028 9026 9673
Fax: 028 9026 9674
Email: gmagee@bma.org.uk

[1] Chief Medical Officer (2004). At least five a week. London: Department of Health.

[2] Rennie KL, McCarthy N, Yazdgerdi S, Marmot M, Brunner E. Association of the metabolic syndrome with both vigorous and moderate physical activity. Int J Epidemiol 2003; 53:600-606.

[3] SQW Consulting (2007). Valuing the benefits of cycling: a report to Cycling England. London: Cycling England.

[4] National Heart Forum (NHF) and Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
(CABE) (2007). Building health. Creating and enhancing places for healthy active lives. London: National Heart Forum.

[5] British Medical Association (1997). Road transport and health. London: British Medical Association.

[6] Rennie KL, Hemingway H, Kumari M, Brunner E, Malik M, Marmot M. Effects of moderate and vigorous physical activity on heart rate variability in a British study of civil servants. Am J Epidemiol 2003; 158(2):135-143.

[7] Age Concern England (2005) Staying healthy in later life factsheet FS45. London: Age Concern England. (Access the report here)

[8] Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (2001). Health benefits of physical activity. London: Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology.

[9] Chief Medical Officer (2004). At least five a week. London: Department of Health

[10] Young A & Harries M (2001) Physical activity for patients – an exercise prescription. London: Royal College of Physicians. (Access the report here)

[11] Kelley G A. Aerobic exercise and bone density at the hip in postmenopausal women: a metaanalysis. Prev Med. 1998 Nov-Dec;27(6):798-807

[12] Thompson et al. Exercise and Physical Activity in the Prevention and Treatment of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2003; 107:3109-3116

[13] Gordon et al. Physical Activity and Exercise Recommendations for Stroke Survivors. Circulation. 2004; 109:2031-2041

[14] Chief Medical Officer (2004). At least five a week. London: Department of Health

[15] Scottish Executive (2006). Sport, exercise and physical activity: public participation, barriers and attitudes. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.

[16] Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (2007). Northern Ireland health and social wellbeing survey 2005/6. Belfast: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

[17] Department of Health (2002). Coronary heart disease: Estimating the impact of changes in risk factors. London: Department of Health.

[18] Allender S, et al. The burden of physical activity-related ill health in the UK. J Epidemiol Community Health 2007;61:344–348.

[19] Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (2007), “Health and Social Wellbeing Survey 2005/06”, Belfast, NISRA

[20] World Health Organisation. Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical Activity: How much is needed? Available from: http://www.who.int/hpr/physactiv/pa.how.much.shtml

[21] Obesity and Type 2 diabetes in Northern Ireland” Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, NIA 73/08-09 14 January 2009

[22] Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (2002), “Investing for Health”, Belfast, DHSSPS

[23] DHSSPS Economics Branch (2003), “Unhealthy Living Model 2nd Edition”, Belfast, DHSSPS

[24] NI Continuous Household Survey (CHS) 2008-2009 NISRA

[25] NHS Information Centre (2009). Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet: England. London: NHS Information Centre.

[26] Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Nutrition Research Unit (2007). The healthy living social marketing initiative: A review of the evidence. Cambridge: Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Nutrition Research Unit.

[27] Hagenfeldt K et al. (2003) Osteoporosis - prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Stockholm: The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care.

[28] Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety Inquiry into Obesity November 2009

[29] The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) credits GP Dr Derek Browne, with being the first GP to promote exercise on prescription in 1983.

[30] Birmingham City Council http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/eop

[31] Department for Transport (2008). Transport trends. London: Department for Transport.

[32] Office for National Statistics (2008). Social trends. London: The Stationery Office

[33] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (2006). Transport interventions promoting safe cycling and walking. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

[34] HM Treasury (2004). Securing good health for the whole population: Wanless Report. London: HM Treasury.

[35] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2008). The environment in your pocket. London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

[36] Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (2008). The environment in your pocket.
London: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

[37] Morrison DS, Thomson H, Petticrew M. Evaluation of the health effects of a neighbourhood traffic calming scheme. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2004 Oct; 58(10):837-40.

Committee for the Environment

Committee for the Environment
Room 247
Parliament Buildings
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9052 1240
Fax: +44 (0) 28 9052 1795

From: Alex McGarel
Clerk to the Committee for the Environment

Date: 4 February 2010

To: Kathryn Bell
Clerk to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure

Subject: Response to the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure’s Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

1. The Environment Committee considered the terms of reference of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure’s inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland on 21 January 2010. Members felt information received by the Committee linking health and the environment would contribute to the identification and analysis of issues which act as a barrier to participation in physical activity.

2. In April last year, the Committee sought information from the Department of the Environment (DOE) on behalf of the British Medical Association regarding the tackling of obesity and the linking of environment and health.

3. In its response DOE advised the Committee that access to the countryside is seen as an important contributor to encouraging physical activity. Through its agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), DOE is one of the joint funders of the Countryside and Activities Network (CAAN). CAAN’s current operational plan provides details of large numbers of partnerships and programmes designed to facilitate the provision and promotion of activities in the countryside. The plan includes a pledge to work with local communities to underline the importance of outdoor recreation for health and well-being, seen to be essential at a time when lifestyles of young people have become more sedentary.

4. NIEA has also undertaken research, in association with CAAN, into Barriers into Participation – A review of why specific communities within Northern Ireland do not use the countryside for recreation. The study concluded that a number of barriers exist including:

5. NIEA also provides finance to district councils and other organisations through the Natural Heritage Grants Programme. This fund is aimed at encouraging access and includes projects such as the Sustrans Comber Greenway which runs for 7 miles from East Belfast to Comber. NIEA has provided assistance to the Mourne Heritage Trust which does much to manage sustainable outdoor recreation in the Mournes and NIEA is also coordinating the revised Ulster Way which will encourage walks of various lengths.

6. NIEA’s own country parks have for many years provided opportunities for informal recreation and organised events, including waymarked walks and running trails.

7. DOE is also involved in proposals taking forward a UK working group for strategic collaboration on environment and health issues as part of the UK Children’s Environment and Health Strategy published in March 2009. NIEA has continued input into the UK Interdepartmental Steering Group and assists the DHSSPS Investing for Health team in considering future cross-cutting links through work to be taken forward on both the development of the Obesity Prevention Strategic Framework and the planned review of the investing for Health Strategy.

8. It should be noted that the Environment Committee is very concerned that the current financial pressures being faced by DOE could lead to the deterioration of many of the above activities thereby discouraging the use of, or restricting access, to the countryside. In discussions with the Department the Committee has urged DOE to be mindful of such broader and longer term impacts of funding decisions and wherever possible to manage its resources accordingly.

9. In addition, the Department uses Planning Policy Statements (PPS) to set out regional planning policy in relation to the protection of open space, the provision of new areas of open space in association with residential development and the use of land for sport and outdoor recreation; in particular PPS 8: Open Space, Sport and Outdoor Recreation. PPS 8 seeks to protect against the loss of existing open space. In dealing with applications for residential developments the policy requires that on a site of 25 dwellings or more or on sites of one hectare or more, public space expectation will be at least 10% of the site rising to 15% on sites of 300 dwellings or more or on sites of 15 hectares or more. In addition on sites of 100 dwellings or more or on sites of 5 hectares or more an equipped children’s play area will be required.

10. DOE also advises on the treatment of these issues in development plans. This is likely to become more critical over the next few years as the RPA process devolving planning decisions to local authorities is rolled out. The preparation of a new Development Plan provides the opportunity to assess existing open space provision within the new plan area and to identify, where necessary, suitable locations for future open space development. As the primary responsibility for public open space rests with district councils Planning Service will work closely with the relevant council and liaise with other interested bodies like the Sports Council.

11. PPS 8 also includes policies for the provision of outdoor recreation facilities in the countryside, intensive sports facilities in settlements and the development of facilities ancillary to water sports. In addition, PPS 1 on General Principles, PPS 3 on Access, Movement and Parking, and PPS 7 on Quality Residential Environments, all refer to the facilitation of cycle and pedestrian facilities which in turn should promote physical activity.

12. With regard to encouraging cycling, DOE’s Road Safety Division offers all primary schools in Northern Ireland the opportunity to participate in the cycling proficiency scheme. This is followed up by Road Safety Education Officers contacting schools to encourage participation. In 2008 568 schools and 9,483 pupils took part in the scheme which provides up to 12 hours of structured training in safe cycling.

13. In addition to this information, the Committee was provided with a paper during its climate change inquiry from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) outlining the links between obesity and climate change. It indicated that in addition to dietary issues, people who are obese tend to take little or no exercise and in particular drive or take public transport in preference to walking or cycling.

14. The report cited evidence that just by walking 1 hour more during the week people could cut total greenhouse gas emissions from passenger cars by 15.4%.

15. The report concludes that there are very clear opportunities for government departments and agencies to develop joint campaigns that meet multiple government targets including healthier lower emission lifestyles. It also notes that the costs of such cross-cutting programmes such as fighting obesity while contributing to climate change objectives are likely to be dwarfed by those that would be incurred by the National Health Service and society at large through inactivity, ill-health and premature death as a consequence of obesity.

16. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you required further information about this response.

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Countryside Access & Activites Network (CAAN)

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CAAN Report

To view the report online or to download please see the following link:

http://www.countrysiderecreation.com/downloads/Barriers%20to%20Participation%20Final%20Document.pdf

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Craigavon Borough Council

Craigavon Borough Council.psd

Leisure Services Department
Lough Neagh Discovery Centre
Oxford Island National Nature Reserve
Craigavon, Co Armagh, BT66 6NJ

9th February 2010

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure
Room 424, Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont Estate
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Dear Kathryn

Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Please find enclosed the written evidence from Craigavon Borough Council’s Sports Development Unit as requested by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure which relates to the inquiry into “Participation in Sport and Physical Activity”.

Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. You can reach me at the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre or at 0283 8311 691. The Sports Development Unit would be willing to give a presentation which would detail the experience and challenges involved in delivering and sustaining programmes which directly target those least likely to participate in Sport or Physical Activity. I have enclosed supplementary information which highlights the work of the Unit and a presentation which was made recently to Sport Northern Ireland’s participation committee and to Craigavon Borough Council’s Leisure Services Committee.

If the committee intends to publish any of the information submitted within the self-contained memorandum or from any supplementary documents I should appreciate it if it could be reviewed by an Officer from Council first.

Yours sincerely

 

Wanda Rea
Sports Development Officer.

Craigavon Borough Council

Craigavon Borough Council
Sports Development Unit

Written Response to the Committee for Culture Arts and Leisure Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity.

0.1 Executive Summary

0.1(i) This submission will explain the role of the Sports Development Unit in regard to the promotion of participation in Physical Activity and Sport in the borough of Craigavon. It will give a brief overview of partners the Unit works with in order to ensure that everyone within the Borough has the opportunity to get involved in sport and physical activity and to pursue that involvement to the level they have the ability or desire to reach. Our overarching aim is to encourage independent lifelong involvement in sport.

0.1(ii) The unit has received funding from a range of sources to deliver participation initiatives to those least likely to participate in Sport and Physical Activity and some detail is included about these projects. The successes and the challenges experienced to date both in regard to engaging participants and in regard to sustaining their participation post their initial involvement.

0.1(iii) Finally, it will include our recommendations for the future.

0.2 Introduction

0.2(i) The Sports Development Unit is a section of the Leisure Development Unit within the Council’s Leisure Services Department with five full-time officers dedicated to delivering the service. The Sports Development Unit’s key role is to empower those, particularly in the voluntary sector, who have a role to play in ensuring all people within the Borough of Craigavon have a quality sporting experience and will continue to be involved with sport and physical activity, having the opportunity to progress to whatever level they have the desire and ability to reach. This should be achieved through the creation of sustainable partnerships and the investment of time and resources into training and empowering local communities to develop sport for their people to suit their needs.

0.2(ii) The main services provided by the Sports Development Unit (SDU) and Craigavon Sports Advisory Council (CSAC) include the provision of opportunities to:

0.2(iii) Sports Development provides these services in partnership with a wide range of statutory and voluntary organisations including:

0.3 Factual Information

0.3(i) Funding

Craigavon Borough Council’s Leisure Services Department has a wealth of facilities in the area and offers facility based programmes which provide physical activity and sporting opportunities to the population in Craigavon. If one was to consider the number of opportunities provided by these facilities they would include the following

This provision attracts adults who are in the main motivate to participate and Council works hard to ensure that they have a good experience and want to continue that participation.

The Sports Development Unit actively tries to engage with those least likely to get involved in Sport or Physical Activity. Craigavon Borough Council has innovatively supported the development of Sport and Physical activity locally through its investment in the Sports Development Unit and in Craigavon Sports Advisory Council. This core investment has enabled the development of innovative activities which engage those least likely to participate in a meaningful manner and has enabled additional funding to be sought to embed these practices in normal leisure provision.

One such funded programme delivered by the Sports Development Unit is the Sport Northern Ireland (SNI) “Sport in our Community” programme which was launched in 2006.

The following awards were made to Council through the Sport in Our Community

Programme for the period 2006-2010:

Project Title

Funding Awarded

Programme Details

Craigavon Community Sports Programme

£86,361

(2006-2010)

Project which engages with the following under-represented groups:

Youth at Risk

Disadvantaged Communities

People with a Disability

Teenagers

Craigavon Community Sport Active Inclusion Project

£48,686

(2008-2010)

Project which engages with the following under-represented groups:

Physical Rehabilitation Groups and Individuals

Older People

People with Mental Health Needs

Inclusive Physical Activity and Sports Programme

£69,195

(2008-2010)

Community Sports Programme supporting the work of the Midnight Soccer Co-ordinator and the Community Sports Development Officer at the former Brownlow Campus Sports Trust. Project which engages with the following under-represented groups:

Youth at Risk

People with a Disability

Ethnic Minority Groups

Sport Craigavon

£18,790

(2006-2010)

Craigavon Sports Advisory Council Capacity Building Programme with 3 key strands:

Coachworks

Next Generation Multi-Sports Coaches

Community Sports Clubs 2012

Total

£223,032

From 2006-2010

In addition to this direct investment by Sport NI, the programme has enabled Officers to work with local community groups and sports clubs to assist them in securing additional funding to run community sports programmes. A total of £50,600 additional indirect funding has been sourced for local community groups and clubs for sport and physical activity programmes as a result of the Sport in Our Community Programme.

0.3 (ii) Participation

SNI has compiled detailed information regarding participation across all of the programmes delivered throughout Northern Ireland and this should be available on request to SNI.

A detailed report of the work undertaken in the Craigavon to date through the “Sport In our Community” programme has been sent along with this submission as supplementary information.

In brief this programme currently delivers activities to the following under-represented groups in sport and physical activity:

The following participants have benefited directly from one of the four projects during the first three years of the project:

Year

2006-2007

2007-2008

2008-2009

Female

352

223

730

Male

320

251

993

TOTAL

672

474

1723

In this section sports development will identify the main groups within the adult population which we work with and who have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults. We will identify the issues which have been identified by the group to us as a barrier to participation and we will demonstrate how we have tried to find a local solution.

To date we have found that working in partnership with a range of “others” has enabled us to deliver programmes which not only meet our agenda in regards to increasing participation but have had an impact on the health and well being of participants, community development, safety and cohesion.

Three main groups will be included within this section and these will include programmes for people with a disability, older people and people from a minority ethnic group.

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

Adults with a Disability

Barriers to participation

Solutions

Practical Example

Accessible Venues

Well planned activities sourcing accessible venues available at times needed

Gotcha Boccia League

This is a monthly Boccia league with 14 teams taking part. It is fully inclusive and participants have a range of disabilities from mental health issues to wheelchair users.

Inclusive Activities

Provide Inclusive Games / Adapted Sport Training for coaches

Disability Outreach Programme

An Inclusive Games Coach visits 6 disability organisations and delivers a weekly programme of inclusive games at their venue

Accessible Transport

Work in partnership with Health Trust to avail of Trust

Transport

Shine Summer Scheme

Delivered with a range of partners including CBC, Mencap, Southern Trust, SELB, this is a two week summer scheme for young people with a high level of assistance required

Transport Costs

Source funding for community transport providers. Use Health Trust transport

Fit 4 U Project – Southern Trust

Suitably qualified coaches

Recruit disability qualified coaches / further training for existing coaches

Disability Outreach Programme

Lack of competitive opportunities

Build capacity and skill levels with groups. Form teams and create competition

Gotcha Boccia League

Lack of varied activities

Provide regular taster events covering all types of sports & activities.

‘Get Active’ Taster Day

This annual event has over 100 disabled participants take part in 10 different sports & activities

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

Adults with a Disability

Barriers to participation

Solutions

Practical Example

Lack of disability sports clubs, competitive and non-competitive

Work with Sports Governing bodies and Health Trust to identify need and deliver on need.

Aspergers ‘Saturday’ Club / Lurgan Town Soccability Club

Aspergers Saturday Club is a monthly activity club which is delivered in partnership with SELB and Southern Trust

Soccability is a weekly football club for young people with a range of disabilities

Facility & tutor costs

Work in partnership with Health Trust / voluntary organisations to access free or discounted facilities or tutors

Disability Outreach Programme

Lack of a ‘voice’

Establish User Led Forums and working groups

SLUG Forum / Fit 4 U Forum

Craigavon Sport & Leisure Users Group (SLUG) is a fully constituted voluntary group made up of disabled leisure users, assisted by disability professionals from Southern Trust, CBC, and other disability organisations.

Communication of opportunities

Co-ordinated marketing and PR plan, Inter-agency working groups

Disabled Sports

Development Officers Network (DSDON) / SLUG PR Sub-group

DSDON is a regional networking group made up of sports development officers who have a remit for disability

SLUG has a PR sub committee which is tasked with promoting the activities of the group, branding, and other sponsorship type events.

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

Older People

Barriers

Solutions

Example

Lack of funding to pay for facilities & tutors

Help the group form a strong committee / group, that become constituted. Then help them access available funding streams / Work in partnership with Age Concern

Craigavon Forever Young Club

Work was undertaken in partnership with Age Concern NI to change a group of older people who regularly attended a local leisure centre into a well organised and structured community / voluntary organisation, who applied for funding, managed their own accounts, organised their activity programme, and had regular meetings & AGMs

Having the confidence to take part

Market and promote the social aspects of the clubs and activities. Introduce a ‘Buddy’ scheme when new members join or prospective members have a trail visit.

Portadown Nifty Fifties Club

Craigavon Forever Young Club

Lurgan Young at Heart Club

When a new member wishes to take part they are ‘buddied’ with an existing member who introduces them to the other members and makes sure they are never left alone.

Personal Health Issues

Ensure that activities provided are at suitable level and with appropriately trained coaches.

Watson Centre Club for frailer older people

Its important to show that most people can take part in a physical activity programme, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, as long as the clients are well screened, and that the activities take place in a controlled and safe environment, and at the appropriate level

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

Older People

Barriers

Solutions

Example

Lack of training for older people within clubs

Provide training to older people so they may deliver activities within their club

Volunteer Walk Leader Programme

Creative Movement & Dance

Work in partnership with Southern Health Trust to fund an annual training programme for older people in a range of activities to promote sustainability within clubs

Lack of competitive opportunities

Provide competitive events and activities

Craigavon Senior Sportsfest & Southern Senior Sportsfest

Delivered twice per year these events give older people the chance to take part in a competitive day of sports, something that rarely happens for older people

Not able to engage in ‘active’ older peoples clubs

Develop clubs or sections of clubs that provide low impact activities or chair based activities

Watson Centre Club for frailer older people

Many of the members of this club are not able to take part in many of the high impact activities that take place in most of the older peoples clubs. At this club the activities are all low impact or chair based, and all tutors are fully qualified and experienced in dealing with older frail clients.

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

Older People

Barriers

Solutions

Example

Don’t like joining women dominated clubs

Establish separate men only clubs or men only sections of existing clubs

Lurgan Young at Heart Men’s Club

Most older peoples clubs are made up of mostly female members, and many men feel this environment isn’t suitable. Men only environments are less intimidating / more suitable for older men

No relevant activities available

Provide a programme of activities that are attractive and relevant to men

Lurgan Young at Heart Men’s Club – Archery, Bowling & Swimming Programme

As above, older men feel that most older people clubs are programmed for women, with activities such as dance, walking, yoga, and they feel activity programme such be more appealing to men.

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

People from a minority ethnic group

Barriers

Solutions

Example

Language / PR & Marketing

Get marketing material printed in a range of languages. Work in partnership to access translation services

Intercultural Sports Day CBC & Craigavon Intercultural Project (CIP)

Being able to access groups and communities

Work in partnership with community organisations who have built relationships with different communities

CBC Development Department & Craigavon Intercultural Project

Funding

Help groups formally constitute, and assist them with funding applications and the management of any grants awarded

Filipino Community Group received funding through Southern Investing for Health for 12 week physical activity programme

0.3(iii) Key participation groups, barriers to participation, solutions found and a practical example provided. (Continued)

People from a minority ethnic group

Barriers

Solutions

Example

Suitable coaches

Identify people from BME community and train them to deliver range of sports to their relevant community and others

Piast FC Polish Soccer Team

Lack of appropriate facilities at times needed

Work in partnership to access facilities at non-traditional times such as late evenings or Sundays.

Filipino Badminton League

CBC / CIP / SELB

Work commitments

Provide activities at times which suit the needs of the group – ie Sundays, even when facilities are normally closed

Intercultural Basketball tournament

0.4 Recommendations

Sport Northern Ireland is compiling a large scale Sport and Physical Activity Adult Participation Survey which will cover all regions of Northern Ireland and involve 4,600 participants. This may provide a more in depth insight into the whole area of adult participation.

Currently as a Sports Development Unit we are challenged to attract funding to support the provision we have instigated through Sport in our Community. SNI has recently announced potential cut backs to its revenue budget of 2.5million this will have a detrimental impact on statutory and voluntary organisations alike and severely impact the ability to sustain or make further advances in this area.

There is a huge need for coordination of action and programmes from the highest departmental levels if we are to make the best use of the limited resources available and if we recognise and accept the positive impact that participation in sport and physical activity can have on individuals and communities.

Considering the plummeting health of our population a joined up national plan which will see investment from Health, Education and the department of Culture Arts and Leisure may have the desired impact, this combined with the potential new powers of Health and Well Being which may come to local authorities may provide the impetus required to turn the tide in the populations inactivity.

Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf
Craigavon's Sport in Our Community Programme Report 06 -10.pdf

Mr Damien Crowne

My name is Damien Crowne and I am a fitness trainer / coach based in Omagh with another premises in Dungannon. My business is made up of 6 personal training studios and 2 small gyms. We currently employ 12 people. We specialise in weight management / exercise. I work with all sections of the community in relation to weight loss and sport specific exercise. My work has brought various challenges from wheel chair users to blind people. I am a firm believer in “there is no such thing as cant.”

Our client base is mainly the adult population with weight loss being the main objective, although there are alot of clients that come just for the exercise and the weight maintenance. There is an assessment procedure that clients undertake in their first session. This will tell us their exercise history, if any. Most clients dont have any background in sport or exercise. They tend to be clients who have low self- esteem, no confidence, and absolutley no clue on healthy eating.

The age bracket varies from 30 plus with most looking for the same objective - weight loss and improve fitness. After a few weeks everyone of them will say the same thing - “I should have done this years ago”. This brings me onto the question - “What have you been doing all these years?”

In my findings this type of client has no sporting background and PE at school consisted of a specific sport which held no interest for them. Being forced into doing it put them off any kind of sport. Not all individuals are competitive, so why does this type of client not go to the gym which has everything he or she will requires?

A Gym to this type of client is like walking into the cockpit of an aeroplane. Where do you start and which button do you press. I am aware they will go through an induction on how the machines work but that is like taking one driving lesson and then being left on your own to drive. The end result is the same - After stumbling a few times they will give up. These adults have no memory recall of exercise which is why todays adult population find it hard to motivate themselves. They need direction, motivation, and an objective to work towards.

What about the client that wants to lose weight but hasn’t the confidence to go to anyone. This type of client has no confidence, and will try one faddy diet after another in the hope of losing weight. By trying these diets and finding that they either cannot stick to them, or they read about another that promises even more weight loss, they end up slowing down their metabolism. They also usually end up heavier than before they started dieting.

I recommend that we go to the public. Knock the doors and do a survey. Let us find out their wants and needs, Let us provide them with information that is uniformed and will help them stay on the right path to a healthier and fitter lifestyle. There are too many mixed signals out there which is leading to confusion for alot of people.

People need an education not a diet pill!! It is only then that each individual will start to grow in confidence. Knowledge is a powerful tool to everyone.

I have written a booklet which is aimed at this type of individual and consists of a walking/jogging programme with a sensibile eating menu for each week. It is designed to last 10 weeks and an exercise programme is provided for each week. The aim of the exercise programme over the 10 weeks is to advance each persons fitness levels.

I have done a study on the book where I invited clients to participate in the programme. Every participant in the programme lost weight and due to the nature of the exercise and the eating plans they all intend to carry on with this healthier way of living. Every client has also reported positive changes in moods and confidence. This is due to the fact that they are able to see the results of their work and that they have the back up of our trainers should they require further assistance. This book is an ideal starter for anyone who then wish to progress to using a gym.

I am also working on a programme at present aimed at years 6,7,8,9. This programme is designed to implement the parent and child through exercise and sensibile eating. The programme takes part in the school and the parent is involved with after school activities in connection to the programme.

I have completed a survey in the Omagh area and all schools would like their school to participate in the programme. I believe this programme is the way forward. We need to educate the child on two specific area. Basic fitness and basic nutrition. We will bring the gym to the school and educate each individual on the importance of exercise and sensibile eating. By doing this you are not just training them physically, you are preparing and educating them for life after school. This basic education programme on these two crucial areas will stay with them throughout their school life and beyond.

The adult population that are inactive where probably never educated in the importance of exercise. This is why we must work with this generation to help change the next generation.

At present we are going to run a pilot scheme based on the programme at a local primary school this is due to commence in Feburary’ I would welcome a meeting with the commitee to discuss and challenge any of the issues I have outlined above. I would also like to discuss my programme and how it can help address your issues in relation to modern day figures on obesity within the younger and older generations.

Thank you for giving the opportunity to e-mail you on these issues.

Looking forward to your response,

Yours Sincerely,

Damien Crowne
mob..07799777841
wk.. 028, 82, 258181
web. www.1-2-1-phf.com

Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure _DCAL_-1.psd

Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)

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Department of Education (DE)

Committee for Education
Room 241
Parliament Buildings
Tel: +44 (0)28 9052 1655
Fax: +44 (0)28 9052 1371
Fax: +44 (0)28 9052 1083

To: Kathryn Bell
Clerk to the Committee for Culture, arts and Leisure

From: John Simmons
Clerk to the Committee for Education

Date: 4 March 2010

Subject: Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in Northern Ireland

Ref: 007/10/I/04

Please see attached the response from the Department of Education to your correspondence regarding an inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland.

The Committee for Education noted this response at its meeting on 3 March 2010.

Regards

John Simmons
Committee Clerk

Department of Education _DE_ - 2-1.psd

Department of Education (DE)

Department of Education _DE_ - 2-2.psd

Department of Employment and Learning (DEL)

FROM THE PERMANENT SECRETARY
Alan Shannon

Department for Employment and Learning.ai

Adelaide House
39-49 Adelaide Street
Belfast BT2 8FD
Tel: 028 9025 7833
Fax: 028 9025 7878
email: permanent.secretary.office@delni.gov.uk

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont Estate
BT4 3XX 11 March 2010

Dear Dr Bell

Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Thank you for your letter of 15 January 2010 to Aideen McGinley, which was received in my Department on 8 February. As you are probably aware, Aideen has moved on and I have now taken up post as Permanent Secretary of DEL.

I attach at Appendix 1 a paper outlining DEL’s engagement with this issue that I hope the Committee will find helpful in relation to the inquiry.

Yours sincerely

ALAN SHANNON Sig.ai

ALAN SHANNON

cc Employment and Learning Committee Clerk

Appendix 1

Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee Inquiry into Sport and
Physical Activity

Evidence from Department for Employment and Learning (DEL)

Contents

Department for Employment and Learning (DEL)

1 Vision and Values

DEL’s vision is: a dynamic, innovative and sustainable economy where everyone achieves their full potential

DEL’s aim is: to promote learning and skills, prepare people for work and to support the economy

DEL’s purpose is: to unlock the talent inherent in the people in our community and enable them to make the most of their potential.

By helping people to find work, upskilling the workforce, supporting employment rights, innovation and creativity and making education and training accessible, DEL can create the dynamic and innovative economy that lies at the heart of the aims of the Programme for Government.

The Department bases its work on a number of key values, which underpin the delivery of its commitments. The Department will seek to provide a professional and responsive service to its customers in an equitable way. It will strive to be innovative and dynamic and to improve continually as an organisation whilst motivating, developing and valuing its staff. Underpinning the work of the Department is its commitment to develop and manage a framework of employment rights, remedies and responsibilities to ensure that those in work are adequately protected.

Department’s key areas of activity

2 Context of DEL’s work

DEL’s Contribution to the Programme for Government is summarised as follows:

Priority: Growing a Dynamic, Innovative Economy

Actions: Increase by 300 the number of PhD research students at local universities by 2010

Introduce a new programme to increase the commercialisation of university and college research by 2010.

Goals: Increasing the employment rate from 70% to 75% by 2020

Ensuring by 2015 that 80% of the working age population is qualified to at least GCSE level or equivalent.

Increasing the number of adult learners achieving a qualification in literacy, numeracy and ICT skills by 90,000 by 2015.

Increasing by 25% the numbers of students, especially those from disadvantaged communities, at graduate and postgraduate level studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM subjects) by 2015.

Priority: Promote Tolerance, Inclusion And Health And Well-Being

Actions: Put in place by 2010 a careers advice service to meet the needs of people with disabilities.

In carrying out its business DEL will contribute to the following Public Service Agreements (PSAs):

3 DEL and Sport and Physical Activity

3.1 The Sport Strategy aims to facilitate increased participation in sporting activity, seeks to improve access to sports facilities, promote the development of world class athletes and in support of this develop the sporting workforce. DEL had sight of an early draft of the document and had the opportunity to comment, and is involved in the work of the Sport Implementation and Strategy Monitoring Groups.

3.2 There are limitations on the extent to which DEL can exert influence to achieve the aims of the strategy; nevertheless the Department is committed to doing what it can in this area. For example, the Strategy acknowledges the role played by sporting activity in contributing to educational attainment and acknowledges the role of Further Education Colleges and Higher Education Institutions in providing opportunities for participation in sporting activity, including a broad spectrum of competitive sport.

3.3 There are sports facilities in Further Education (FE) and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and competitive sporting activity continues to be a key feature of both curricular and extra-curricular activity. Insofar as DEL provides funding support for all curriculum areas, by definition it also funds those related to sports, including those areas of the curriculum directly related to sports studies. However, as autonomous bodies, it is for the Institutions themselves to determine their course provision in line with demand as well as their policy for access to campus sports facilities – in particular in relation to family or friends of the student body. Consultation directly with the institutions themselves would be likely to be of value on the role that they might play in addressing the aims of the new strategy.

3.4 DEL, via its linkages with the Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), has a role in the development of the sports and recreation workforce. It is a matter for the relevant SSCs to articulate skills needs and to determine the qualifications and curriculum standards for those skills that in turn can inform the supply side of the equation.

3.5 DEL has also been engaged in related work on Fit Futures and the NI Physical Activity Strategy led by the Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) as part of the outworking of the Investing for Health Strategy. Although again limited in its ability to influence, DEL was represented on the NI Physical Activity Implementation Group charged with taking forward the recommendations in the NI Physical Activity Strategy to increase levels of health-related physical activity particularly among those who exercise least. The work of this group has been subsumed by the Obesity Prevention Steering Group and DEL continues to be represented on this.

3.6 In addition to the role played by FE in relation to sport, and competitive sport in particular, FE Colleges in NI are important institutions in which health and fitness can be promoted. Many students gain information about nutrition through their programmes of learning. DEL has issued guidelines which require Colleges to implement policies in relation to physical activity; eating and health; and drugs and substance abuse

3.7 DEL recognises the role that the forthcoming 2012 Olympics will play in relation to promoting the benefits of sport and physical activity. There are broad based education and skills objectives in the London 2012 programme and DEL has been involved from the early stages in the 2012 Olympics Planning Group. However, much of this work relevant to DEL’s core business activity is unrelated to participation in sport per se; rather it is about, for example, preparing people to volunteer – something that is already promoted and facilitated through the Department’s employment and training programmes. It also should be recognized that the opportunities for games-time volunteering are likely to be mainly in the London area.

3.8 While DEL’s direct contribution to the preparations for the 2012 Olympics is limited, the Department is engaged with London 2012 in sharing with them its Local Employment Intervention Service (LEMIS) model which seeks to involve local communities more closely in engaging with those furthest from the labour market and helping them to avail of local job opportunities.

3.9 The Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are also involved in assessing likely skill demands arising from 2012 as part of their ongoing annual process. In addition, DEL hopes to establish the link between the 2012 Olympics and the World Skills event in Calgary this September and also that planned for London in 2011. NI has two apprentices shortlisted for places in the GB squad for Calgary and we hope to showcase their talents at the Nations and Regions Day in July.

3.10. DEL is aware that the SkillsActive SSC has a number of projects underway, e.g.:

SkillsActive Projects Supported by DEL.

1. 2012 Active Leisure Workforce. The aim of this project is to ensure the sport and recreation sectors have access to people with relevant training and employability skills to allow NI to play a pivotal role in the 2012 Olympics and other key sporting events.

Its objective is to gather information and map demand for new roles, skills and training needed by the active leisure workforce in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics. The project involves fieldwork carried out by a research contractor with a report and dissemination event to follow.

2. Workforce Development Tool for the NI Active Leisure Sector. This project aims to encourage employers to use a workforce development tool to increase and improve business efficiency and performance in this sector.

This includes the collection and collation of all NI related qualifications, job roles courses and training opportunities. SSC will arrange to use a consultant to guide employers in the use of a workforce development tool and once final user testing has been completed SkillsActive will carry out an evaluation of the project results.

3. Preparing the Playwork Sector to Enter the Children’s Workforce.

This project aims to develop a distinct Playwork training and careers framework to enable the sector to play a pivotal role in the emerging NI children’s workforce.

The framework will link with current qualifications and roles already on offer in the sector and will also include an exploration into the cost, relevancy and capacity of new qualifications. The work will relate to inspection/ registration recommendations in NI with a key output being a geographical training and careers map to tell users ‘what’ are the training and qualifications required by the new children’s workforce and ‘where’ are the related Playwork jobs in NI.

4 DEL Staff In relation to its own staff, DEL has, in its HQ at Adelaide House, a well equipped gym for use by staff who are members of the NICS Sports Association (NICSSA). Initiatives such as the DRD “cycle” campaign are promoted to staff who are also actively encouraged, as part of a Health and Wellbeing approach to avail of the fitness assessments offered by OHS and to participate in the Healthworks Programme offered by NICSA.

Del Commitment

5 The Committee will wish to be aware that the Department for Employment and Learning is committed fully, within the context of the delivery of its core business, to raising awareness of the benefits of physical activity and sport. It is by this means and its continued involvement in inter-departmental working, that DEL is making its contribution to sport and physical activity.

Department for Employment and Learning
February 2010

Annex A

Key Business Areas in DEL

Corporate Services: Minister’s Private Office/ Office of the Permanent Secretary/Central Management, Press Office, personnel, staff welfare, staff training, departmental records, statistics/research and evaluation.

Strategy and Employment Relations: Strategy, Equality and European Policy Branch covering compliance with Section 75 statutory duties, and in particular the Department’s linkages with interdepartmental strategies; Employment and Industrial Relations, including responsibility for relevant legislation and sponsorship of the Labour Relations Agency; the NI Certification Office; the administration of the Office of industrial tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal; the Industrial Court; and the Redundancy Payments Service; Migrant Workers Unit (facilitating the interdepartmental strategy)

Higher Education: Development of policy for the planning, funding and administration of higher education. Also, policy for student loans and awards, education maintenance allowances and for the payment of postgraduate awards.

Further Education: Development of policy for the planning, funding and administration of further education, including the reconfiguration of the Further Education Sector in line with the FE Means Business Review. Also responsible jointly with the Department of Education for the policy and curriculum for the 14-19 age group.

Skills and Industry : Responsibility for the NI Skills Strategy that sets out a vision for skills in Northern Ireland in 2015 and focuses on raising the skills levels of the workforce, enhancing the quality of those entering the workforce, and addressing the employability of those not in employment. This includes Careers Information, Advice and Guidance policy and delivery and the policy and administration of Training for Success, Bridge to Employment and Management Leadership programmes and also for sector development and the associated Sector Skills Councils.

Preparation for Work: Responsibility for the delivery of the public employment service through frontline teams in the network of 35 Jobs & Benefit Offices and JobCentres. A pivotal function of the Service is its local engagement with employers and the availability of “online” vacancy filling services to assist business and jobseekers alike; the administration and delivery of the New Deal programmes; Steps to Work initiatives; the Disablement Advisory Service; Pathways to Work targeted at Incapacity Benefit recipients; Progress2Work (NI) to assist with overcoming major barriers to employment resulting from problems associated with homelessness and substance misuse, an offending background, and other community based employability initiatives such as LEMIS (Local Employment Intermediary Service) designed specifically to engage with unemployed and economically inactive people in Northern Ireland’s most disadvantaged areas, and help them equip themselves for work.

Department of Enterprise,
Trade and Investment (DETI)

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk - Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont Estate
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Netherleigh
Massey Avenue
BELFAST BT4 2JP
Telephone: (028) 9052 9441
Facsimile: (028) 9052 9545
Email: david.sterling@detini.gov.uk
janice.davison@detini.gov.uk
Our ref: PS DETI 037/10
Your ref:

4 February 2010

Dear Dr Bell

Inquiry Into Participation In Sport And Physical Activity

Thank you for your letter of 15 January 2010 advising me about the Committee’s inquiry and inviting comments.

Anything that can be done to improve the health of Northern Ireland’s working age population is to be welcomed. Participation in sport and physical activity no doubt has a part to play in achieving that goal.

Consequently I welcome the inquiry however as this Department and our sponsored NDPB, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland, have no direct remit in this area we have no specific comments or proposals to offer to the Committee.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID STERLING Sig.ai

DAVID STERLING

Department of Regional Development (DRD)

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Department for Social Development (DSD)

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Fitness Northern Ireland

Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Introduction

Fitness Northern Ireland has been established since 1952, and, as a National Governing Body for exercise and fitness we are recognised and supported by Sport Northern Ireland making us the premier training organisation province wide. We provide training for the following courses as well as some external courses:

Fitness Northern Ireland Recreative Course. (Line Dance)
OCR Exercise and Fitness Course.
Step Fitness
Aqua Fitness
Chair Fitness
Dance Fitness
Tots 2 Teens Fitness (Adapting for Children)
Ability Fitness (Special Needs)
Cardiac Rehabilitation Fitness
Prime Fitness (50+)
Ante and Post Natal Fitness
Personal Trainer Fitness
Circuits and Resistance Fitness
Pilates Fitness (Mat Based)

The company is managed by a Board of Directors which provides a highly professional service adhering to code of conduct and relevant policies.

Strong links are maintained with The Keep Fit Association, Exercise, Dance and Movement Partnership, Fitness Scotland & Fitness Wales with attendances at Annual Conferences, National Fitness & Dance Festivals & Competitions.

I will comment on the main points you made in your letter:

1. We provide Sport NI with numbers on Participation levels in classes however we would necessarily be able to identify main groups with lower levels in participation. We would assume that lower levels would appear in deprived areas where financially it may be difficult to pay for classes or it is social where they need the support of someone else to encourage them to attend..

2. We could work with our instructors to identify any issues, whether financial, social or personal, which may prevent participation in physical activity. We have a wide network of instructors taking classes all over the province who may be able to issue questionnaires to participants or have views as to why their class levels are depreciating if that is the case.

3. We may be able to assist with solutions if we were provided with the necessary funding to tackle the issues. We provide training for instructors to work with those with Special needs, heart problems and obesity problems. We have previously held teen road shows to encourage young people to participate in sport. We provide ongoing support to instructors who are taking classes. Although your question focuses on adults we believe you need to encourage physical activity at a young age so that it becomes part of their way of life and will continue into adulthood. We recently set up a course to train instructors to teach Dance Fitness and applied for funding to send these instructors into schools and teach dance workshops. This funding was not approved. Therefore one of our barriers in encouraging participation in physical activity is funding.

4. We would be happy to work with the department in any programme that is implemented to tackle this issue as we have a wide database of qualified and insured instructors.

Thank you

Joanne McGlade
Chairperson
Fitness NI

Irish Football Association

Inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity in Northern Ireland

Draft TOR

The Committee will identify, analyse and consider solutions to the ongoing decline in adult participation in sport and physical activity as evidenced in the NI Continuous Household Survey.

Under the Programme for Government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation by securing 53% participation. The Committee is concerned that all steps are taken as necessary to meet that target.

Within that framework the Committee will specifically:

1. Identify the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults;

2. Identify and analyse the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation;

3. Consider solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions;

4. Report to the Assembly making recommendations to the Department and/or others.

Response from Irish Football Association – 12th March 2010

Identify the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults;

The main groups within the sport of Association Football in Northern Ireland are:

Identify and analyse the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation;

1. Women:

2. People with Disabilities:

3. Black and Minority Ethnic Groups:

4. Older People:

5. People from lower socio-economic groups:

3. Consider solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions;

The Irish Football Association would ask that the following three step solution is considered for all these groups:

1. DCAL set up a cross departmental sub group to look at the role of sport in supporting Community Cohesion and Social Inclusion as their response to CSI. This sub group should cover Social Development, Community Safety, Health, Citizenship, Education, Leadership, Sport, Equality and Good Relations.

2. DCAL commission research on a multi sport basis to help governing bodies to identify and remove existing barriers to inclusion.

3. DCAL look into the idea of appointing senior Civil Servants to go on secondment to work in sporting governing bodies to support the mainstreaming of Good Relations and co-ordinate the role sports can play supporting Community Cohesion and Social Inclusion.

This type of model currently is working well in Scotland and is helping the Scottish FA to combat sectarianism and promote health, community cohesion and positive attitudes through their “Citizenship Through Football Programme”.

The Institute for Community Cohesion, based in England, have already identified the Irish Football Association as a potential partner to develop a meaningful community cohesion breakthrough project in Northern Ireland and would be willing to act as a partner to support the transformational process highlighted above.

For further information contact Michael Boyd at mboyd@irishfa.com or call on 07894614328

Irish Rugby Football Union Ulster Branch

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The Irish Sports Council

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Irish Women’s Indoor Bowling
Association (All Ireland)

Mrs Doreen Miskelly
101 Slyline Drive
Lisburn
BT 27 4HW
Tel: 028 92 663516
E mail: dm.iwiba@ntl. Com

Kathryn Bell
Committee Clerk.
Culture, Arts & Leisure. Committee.
Room 424, Parliament Buildings.
Belfast, BT4 3XX.

Dear Kathryn.

I have given some thought to your letter of the 20th January . I have decided to follow the Guide to submit my evidence by e mail, and in the order you have set out.

My CV.

During the past 20 years I held the following administration posts in the sport of Indoor and Outdoor Bowls.

Hon Secretary of the Irish Women’s Indoor Bowling Association (All Ireland). 18 years service

Hon Secretary of the British Isles Indoor Bowls Council During the past 20 years.

Hon Secretary of Hilden Outdoor Bowling Club for the past 9 years.

President of Hilden Bowling Club 1008/9

President of the World Indoor Bowls Council 2008. Member of the World Indoor Bowls Executive committee for 19 years. Still in office.

I am President of the Northern Ireland Women’s Private Greens League for 2010.

I am the Chairman of the Belfast Indoor Bowling Club at Shaw’s Bridge.

I am the present Company Secretary for the Northern Ireland Forum.

You will see from my list that I have a great knowledge of the game of bowls. Also like your organisation, I am aware that in the present financial climate many people just cannot afford to play bowls.

The reason we have lost many members over the past few years is the fact that they could no afford to play the game they have enjoyed for many years.

The main reason for the increase in the cost of Joining Fees and playing fees is the fact that all Sport’s Clubs in Northern Ireland have to pay very high Rates each year. My own Club Rates from April to December 2009 were £9,845.13 this gives you PG 2.

some idea of the high cost rates are to our members. In order to find the money to cover the many expenses that have been steadily rising during the past two years, including the rates. We have had to increase our Rinks fees this season again. This of course means, that many of our senior citizens just cannot find the money to play as often as they would like to.

In order to encourage sport ‘all sport’ to be enjoyed by all people, the government should help to make sport affordable to everyone. One simple way of doing this would be to allow all clubs to operate Rates free. This would allow very small and very large sports clubs- to benefit in the same way. I would point out to your committee that in England, Scotland and Wales, all bowling Clubs have no rates to pay. Why should Northern Ireland be different. It may be that all sporting clubs pay no rates in these country’s, I can only confirm that the Bowling Clubs do not.

Bowling is a sport for all ages, there is a saying in the bowling world that you can be a bowler from the age of 10 until 90. Indeed this happens in my own club. We have a group of Under 25’s , who are enrolled from the age of 10, and go on to represent Ireland at International and World level at Under 18 and Under 25 most successfully as we have had many World Junior Champions in our sport

The mainstay of our Club is the morning Leagues which attracts about 1000 retired men and women who often play four days each week. Many of these players are aged in the eighty plus age group. These leagues are mixed leagues for men and women. We also hold afternoon Leagues for women only and evening Leagues for men only. This means that we cater for all ages, families, and men and women. Our membership this season is 1478.

I will be most interested in the outcome of your Inquiry, I would also like some feed back from your meeting.

I have been interested in Sport all my life. I have 7 Caps for Ireland at International Level. I now devote my time to the N.I Forum. Which is a body of people like myself who have been volunteers in all sport for many years.

Sincerely Yours.

Doreen Miskelly
Chairman Belfast Indoor Bowls Club

Moyle District Council

Inquiry into participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Introduction and Background

1.0 The following report has been prepared by Damian McAfee Sports Development Recreation Officer, Moyle District Council. A member of the Working Group initiated to investigate ways of delivering the Leisure and Tourism Facility Project. The material submitted is a recommendation to address barriers to participation in Sport, Leisure & Physical Activity in Moyle. Mainly access to appropriate facilities and issues with regard to Rurality. The information provided is based on consultation and research carried as part of a Feasibility Study Leisure/Visitor Facility presented to Council in June 2009.

1.1 Strategic Leisure Limited (SL) responded to an Invitation to Tender Notice in the Belfast Telegraph w/c Mon 10 April 2006 for consultants to carry out a Feasibility Study for the Development of a Leisure/Visitors’ Facility for Moyle District Council (MDC).

1.2 For some time MDC has considered the possibility of developing an indoor Leisure/Visitor attraction which will contribute to the local leisure infrastructure and tourism product. Such provision would need to complement existing facilities and attractions and incorporate a suitable mix of facilities to cater for both active and passive leisure time activities.

1.4 This study will inform MDC and its subsequent entity in its strategic and tactical decision-making for any future investment in provision of leisure and tourism facilities in the Moyle district.

Aim of the Study

1.5 The aim of the study is to:

‘Assess and analyse the options for the provision of an indoor leisure/visitor attraction in Moyle, and to identify what it should comprise, where it could be located, and how it would be funded’.

Rationale for the Study

1.6 The lack of indoor/wet weather leisure facilities in the district is acknowledged by the Department of the Environment’s District Council annual Performance Indicators, which highlight MDC as having the poorest indoor leisure provision compared to all other 25 Councils in Northern Ireland.

1.7 The MDC Corporate Plan also acknowledges the need to appraise its Indoor Leisure provision – Theme 3 - “Providing Services that people want and appreciate” MDC Corporate Plan 2005 – 09

The document identifies eight priority areas including:

1.8 Tourism and Environment

The rationale behind prioritising tourism and environment is that Moyle has a unique environmental and cultural heritage that attracts visitors from all over the world. Developing the tourism industry in Moyle will help to ensure

continued economic growth for the local economy in addition to providing employment. The overall aim is to protect and enhance the natural resources and promote sustainable tourism in the area.

1.9 The Role of Sport

Delivering Corporate priorities and objectives

MDC has identified 4 Themes in its current Corporate Plan 2005 – 09 and Theme 3 states the following:

1.10 Facilities

Condition of Existing facilities – Sheskburn Recreation Centre;

Throughout the consultation exercise, reference has been made to the facilities available at SRC and their unsuitability for many activities and school use. The facility has not been purpose-built as a leisure centre, it is part of a converted school building and whilst it has functioned for many years (to varying degrees of satisfaction) as a venue for a range of sports and other activity, the reality is that it is not fit for purpose as a leisure venue, in the standards and extent that is available in every other Council area in N.Ireland, and is expected by the public.

The lack of swimming pool facility in the District, and in particular at the main public leisure facility, highlights the need for new provision.

1.11 Need for new facility in Ballycastle – quality; mix; delivered through partnership?

The points raised above have been raised throughout this study and those responding to the various consultation exercises have indicated what they believe is needed for any future investment in leisure facilities.

1.12 Accessibility – transport; cost; location

Within the Noble Index (2005), Moyle remains the fifth most deprived District in NI. It has particularly acute problems in the area of Proximity to Services.

80% of users of SRC travel by car or motorcycle and 50% of users travel over 10 minutes to attend activities inthe Centre. Two thirds of users have stated that they would pay more for new facilities and half would be prepared to travel further to use facilities.

1.13 Provision for Youth

The lack of specific youth-focussed facilities and programmes was highlighted in the consultation. MDC is however not the only Council area where this situation has become a major issue. Consideration of innovative and contemporary provision should form part of the final matrix for any new facility

and it may be possible to develop opportunity through new organised programming, or through investment from the private/voluntary sector.

1. To indentify the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate of adults;

1.1 The main group identified is primarily the Citizens of the Moyle District including citizens living in Rural Areas and the considerable number of Tourists who visit the area.

2. To identify and analyse the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation;

The main barrier to participation in Sport & Physical Activity within the adult population of the Moyle Area is the limited access to indoor leisure provision and in particular a public swimming pool within the Moyle District Council Area.

There are also issues with regard to Rurality particularly in the Glens Wards which have very limited access to indoor provision.

3. To consider solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions.

Access to a custom built indoor leisure provision and subsequently a wider programme of activities and leisure/health related initiatives.

An example of good practice in this instance would be a recent in-house initiative. Council recently upgraded and extended the fitness suite provision at Sheskburn Recreation Centre, Ballycastle. This included

This has in turn enabled Council to set up new health initiatives which the previous leisure provision could not facilitate, including:

The new provision opened in October 2009 and although very much in its infancy has experienced a large increase in user numbers, memberships and Council Staff who are now availing of the new provision. The new provision has increased the number of Adults using the Fitness Suite and Recreation Centre in general and will be of great benefit to the Moyle Area. This has further emphasised the potential that a new Leisure/Tourism Facility could have within the district with regard to increasing the number of adults participating in Physical Activity within the area.

The dilemma of rural living and its inherent challenge in regard to access to public services is appropriate in the Moyle context. Whilst there is an excellent Rural Community Transport system, it is inadequate to deal with the total needs of the community in Moyle.

Council sees the new Leisure/Tourism Facility as a Flagship Project that would be used as a satellite centre for the many people living in Rural areas within the District. Our neighbouring Council’s in the proposed new Causeway Cluster already provide transport from outlying areas to participate in physical activity programmes, swimming and summer schemes at their facilities. Council would envisage that similar schemes could be set up to remove barriers to participation in Physical Activity within Moyle.

4. Report to the Assembly making recommendations to the Department and / or others

Northern Ireland Volleyball (NIVB)

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Northern Ireland Association of Aeromodellers

Northern Ireland Area Committee
of the British Model Flying Association

Dear Dr Bell

Inquiry into Particpation in Sport and Physical Activity

This is our response to your letter of 20 January 2010 on this subject.

1 We are a minority Sport and welcome increased participation, since we consider that our activity is of benefit to the individuals involved, but also, because it creates a unique combination of technical expertise, personal achievement and sporting challenge, it is of potential value to society when meeting technical challenges, particularly when taken up at an early age.

2 Building and flying Model Aircraft can be undertaken at many different levels in terms of cost, time, technical and scientific ability, but is unique in that every aircraft which succeeds in flying as its builder intends gives intense and lasting satisfaction. It requires perseverance and dedication, and the challenge is such that participants become knowledgeable, proficient and irresistibly involved, many for a lifetime.

3 Participation can begin at School level, and the British Model Flying Association has an Education Programme, which includes a range of economical kits and a Teacher’s Guide which is based on the School Curriculum. It demonstrates how simple model aircraft can be used to teach inter alia science of flight, meteorology, structures and mathematics. There is also a Teacher’s Pack which provides sufficient Dart kits for a Class at very low cost, giving the budding enthusiasts the opportunity to build and fly their own aircraft, but also compete against their peers to see who can make the best flights.

4 To encourage more participation, it would be possible to introduce trainee Teachers to Aeromodelling, providing them with a very valuable additional skill when teaching Science, Technology, Mathematics and Design. Every aeroplane which flies is a distinct Project, so Project Management is also part of the portfolio. The BMFA have a Schools Challenge which is a Team event for young people who have to build and fly aircraft which they have built themselves and compete against other Teams and against time to achieve the maximum air time inside 30 minutes. The Team element of this Challenge is as important as the building and flying, and we have seen at first hand how effective this can be. A Team from Lagan College in Belfast competed successfully against the rest of the UK, coming 2nd twice and finally winning at the finals in England. If funds were available, a local Challenge would provide a strong focus for activity.

5 Following the introduction of young people to Aeromodelling at School age, participation will be further encouraged by provision of more flying sites. Some Councils have provided and/or assisted with provision of sites, and each facility is the natural catalyst for a Club. The needs are simple, a reasonable area of open ground, clear of dwellings and obstructions, with a smooth surface. Accommodation is not needed but of course a successful Club will try to develop its facilities by providing shelter from the elements and facilities for maintenance.

6 The Area has 21 Clubs at present, spread around the Province. These form the focus of activity, based on flying sites, and encourage rapid dissemination of information, technology and expertise. There is a full Calendar of events, mainly run by individual Clubs, but with Area Championships in all disciplines. Many fliers from local Clubs have gone on to become British and Irish Champions, a testament to the standards being set by the more dedicated devotees. The British Model Flying Association has 37,000 members, and has a very well established relationship with its Insurance providers, demonstrating the standards of flying which have been fostered by the Achievement scheme. We have excellent relationships with the fliers in ROI, and with the Model Aeronautics Council of Ireland, their governing Body. The NIAA was the first Governing Body in the UK to be recognised by the then Sports Council (now Sport NI).

7 Internationally, Aeromodelling has been given strong Government support, notably in the former Soviet Republics, but also in Spain and other countries which have appreciated the value of introducing young people to take up technical skills which can be turned to advantage when pursuing career opportunities.

8 Some aircraft are large and expensive, but most are readily affordable, and this influences the level of Club Fees. The cost of purchasing sites outright is often prohibitive. Most are rented, and this inevitably limits the opportunity to improve them and inhibits investment. Any financial assistance with this area would encourage development and increase participation in the long term.

9 Model Flying is open to anyone and there are many opportunities for participation by Disabled people, who can compete on equal terms in many disciplines. Clubs have members from all areas of our community, and encourage newcomers. Most modellers remember their early days and will help anyone needing assistance, as they were helped initially. Fliers are all ages, from all walks of life, and do not need any particular aptitudes. The usually have a long term interest in Aviation.

10 The range of types is expanding all the time, with the original Free Flight and Control Line types still being flown, most fliers using Radio Control in models powered by Internal Combustion engines, and specialist types such as Gliders, Helicopters and Scale Models having their devotees. Recent developments in Mobile Phones have led to the availability of very powerful and light batteries, and thus Electric powered models are becoming practical in larger and larger sizes. These have the great advantage that they are almost silent, making flying sites nearer dwellings more acceptable.

11 An offshoot of the battery and electronic miniaturisation of Radio Control equipment is the rapid development of very small and light fixed wing and Helicopter models which can be flown successfully indoors. This is allowing all year round flying when previously the Winter was an off season, but it presents the problem that suitable halls are marginally affordable with the numbers participating. This is being overcome as more possible sites are explored, but is a problem with close parallels with the outdoor Sites availability described above.

12 Participation in Aeromodelling is steadily increasing, so is already meeting the objective set by the inquiry. This can only be encouraged further if it is given assistance with the introduction of young people to Aeromodelling by support for the education programme, and in the long term by support for provision of permanent and high quality Flying Sites, both outdoor and Indoor.

13 In response to the point of concern to the Committee:

1. All Children go to School, so all groups will have the opportunity to participate in Model Flying if the steps suggested above are taken. We are a minority sport, but all groups can participate and our existing membership includes a very broad spectrum of society.

2. The main barrier to participation is the limitations caused by existing provision of facilities. Wherever a Site is made available, a Club can be formed. There are now Clubs which have to limit their numbers because of the scale of their facilities. More sites will result in more participation.

3. The Area has an excellent reputation in BMFA because of the level of participation in our meetings and the standard of organisation of our events. We are still very much aware that more could be achieved, and will try to improve, but any assistance would be welcome. We hear regularly about activities in other Areas in the UK, and from ROI, and apply best practice where we can. We know that there are other Countries which provide much more positive support.

4. We would like to see the Assembly recognise the potential for increased participation in Aeromodelling in NI, and the benefits to our technology based economy which could flow from increased participation, especially by young people. If it could assist us to expand our activities as outlined above, much could be achieved at quite limited cost to the public purse.

Yours Sincerely

Maurice Doyle
Public Relations Officer

A submission by NILGA in conjunction
with the Northern Ireland Chief Leisure
Officers Association (CLOA)

1. Background Information

NILGA, the Northern Ireland Local Government Association, is the representative body for district councils in Northern Ireland, promoting the interests of local authorities. NILGA is pleased to be able to have an opportunity to give evidence to the inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation. For further information regarding this response, please contact Nora Winder, Director of Policy and Strategy at NILGA on (028)90798972 or email n.winder@nilga.org

CLOA is the representative organisation whose membership comprises the Directors of Leisure Services or Heads of Leisure Services drawn from the 26 local authorities in Northern Ireland.

Local authorities are currently the largest providers of facilities and programmes for sport and physical recreation in Northern Ireland. Statutory powers enabling Councils to provide in this regard are largely drawn from “The Recreation and Youth Service (Northern Ireland) Order 1986”. Local authorities in NI currently provide both directly and indirectly for sport and physical recreation.

Directly for example through provision of:

Indirectly for example through the following:

In recent years local authorities in Northern Ireland have become increasingly engaged in developing innovative partnerships and programmes to encourage participation in sport and physical recreation in sections of the population with traditionally low levels of participation. In addition these programmes often address wider social objectives. NILGA and CLOA would highlight to the Committee that much good and innovative work has and is being done at council level.

Examples include:

2. Why the Decline in Participation?

The reasons for the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation have been the subject of considerable academic study. Clearly the reasons centre round a number of factors including:

What is clear is that these are significant pressures and to address them will require a commitment to long term strategic action including the provision of resources. It is also apparent that no single action will address the issue.

The challenge of doing so in the context of the likely short to medium term economic climate with its resulting pressure on resources including those of local government will be doubly difficult. However if the value of arresting the decline is genuinely a priority of government and is treated as such then local government in turn will respond to this challenge.

3. Recommendations

The Committee is urged to consider the following recommendations for inclusion in its report:

3.1 Assert the Strategic Value of Sport and Physical Recreation

Strategically the promotion of participation by adults in sport and physical recreation requires to be treated as a priority within the Northern Ireland Programme for Government. Identifying participation in sport and physical recreation as a priority asserts its value. In turn the emphasis on this value must be reflected in the policies and actions of government departments, agencies and local government. The benefits of such participation will impact across other government departments including health and social development.

3.2 Planning Policy

Ensure the continuing provision for sport and physical recreation, both formally and informally, through Planning Policy Statement 8.

3.3 Transport Policy

Ensure the needs of cycling are further developed through further provision of a linked network of cycle-ways.

3.4 Provision of a statutory Power of Well-Being and responsibility for Community Planning for local government

The Reform of Public Administration, including the provision of a statutory power of well-being to local authorities and similar powers in respect of community planning will assist councils in the coordination of programmes to address adult participation across a variety of stakeholder agencies at a local level.

3.5 Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport

Support the implementation of the NI Strategy for Sport. Inherent in this is the need to ensure Sport NI has the budget to support implementation.

3.6 Provision of Adequate Resources

Ensure Capital Grant funding assistance is in place to assist in the refurbishment of the existing ageing local authority leisure facility stock.

3.7 Partnership Working.

Ensure government policy and funding streams support innovative partnership working including extension of “dual use” of the schools estate

3.8 Provision of a skilled workforce.

An essential element in contributing to the arrest of the decline of adult participation is the provision of an appropriately trained and qualified work force. Both NILGA and CLOA support the evidence and recommendations supplied to the Committee by SkillsActive, the sector skills council for the active leisure industry, in this regard.

3.9 Support for Sports Clubs and Governing Bodies of Sport

It is essential that funding continues to be made available to governing bodies of sport to facilitate their modernisation programmes. This is essential to ensure the volunteer base necessary to support sports participation by both adults and young people.

Particular work also requires to be undertaken to improve links between schools and local clubs. Work in this area might arrest the significant drop off in participation between school and adult life

Financial assistance should also be channelled to those sports clubs achieving “quality club” standards as they are more likely to have in place good development pathways, addressed equality issues and coach development.

3.10 Promotional opportunity presented by the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The Games present a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to mobilise in Northern Ireland a mass participation campaign, to promote participation in sport and physical recreation. It is essential that funding is identified, and a lead agency appointed to develop and organise such a campaign.

3.11 Pricing

To date little work has been done in Northern Ireland to explore the impact of local authority pricing policies on participation by adults in sport and physical recreation. Use of more innovative pricing policies particularly targeted at segments of the population that have shown low levels of participation might have an impact in ensuring use of local sports facilities better reflects the socio-demographic composition of local areas. Studies by the Audit Commission in England have highlighted the impact pricing policy can have. The Committee should encourage more innovative work in this area in Northern Ireland.

3.12 Opportunities to highlight best practice.

The Committee should identify means by which examples of best practice in achieving improved participation by adults in sport and physical recreation might be highlighted.

Response from the Office
of the Older People’s Advocate

Public Health Agency

Our Purpose

Current Guidelines on Physical Activity

1. At present the 4 U.K. countries vary slightly in which they recommend as daily activity levels:

By September 2010, there will be agreed wording for the UK guidelines.

Physical Activity levels in Northern Ireland

2. There has been a small increase in physical activity levels in men and women in Northern Ireland between 2001 and 2006.

2001

2006

% adult population who get recommended activity levels per week

Males

30%

33%

Females

26%

28%

Addressing the Inquiry’s Specific Objectives

Objective 1: To identify the main groups within the adult population which have lower levels of participation than the average rate for adults.

3. In addition to the general population figures mentioned above, research addressing the specific groups of women and young people has demonstrated that 72% of women in Northern Ireland do not participate in enough physical activity, with young mothers having the lowest levels of physical activity (former Health Promotion Agency, 2008, Armstrong, Bauman & Davies, 2000).

4. Further, research has also indicated that 67% of males do not meet the recommended 30 minutes of PA per week. While there have been attempts to target the physical activity patterns of specific population groupings(e.g. women) there is rising concern that little is being done to target the lack of activity in men globally. Indeed, research literature indicates an imbalance with insufficient attention being devoted to men’s health, in spite of the fact that men have a higher mortality rate throughout the life span than women, consistently die younger than women, and are more susceptible to sedentary- lifestyle related conditions (Courtenay, 2003; Goodyear- Smith & Birks, 2003).

Objective 2: To identify and analyse the issues particular to each of these main groups which act as a barrier to participation.

5. Young mothers, according to Gunthorpe and Lyons (2004), are almost twice as likely as men to experience time pressures as a result of the demands of young children, indeed this may be one of the main barriers to getting young mothers physically active. Some argue that mothers’ physical activity participation is constrained by a combination of structural and ideological influences (Lewis, 2002).

6. The more common reasons why some women do not exercise include:

7. Common reasons why some men do not exercise include:

Objective 3: To consider solutions particular to each of these main groups which could lead to higher levels of participation, including considering examples of best practice from other countries and regions.

Understand the Problem Better

8. Drew and Paradice (1996) suggest that in order to promote physical activity successfully health professionals/professionals need to listen to the opinions of women about their needs within the entirety of their everyday lives within families and communities, across socioeconomic status and employment.

9. There is also a need to further investigate the potential motivators and barriers to exercise behaviours in men.

NICE Guidance

10. NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) Public Health Guidance on physical activity is This guidance is for professionals in the NHS, local authorities and the voluntary sector. It focuses on four methods of getting adults to be physically active:

11. The recommendations include:

A Physical Activity Care Pathway

12. Based on the recommendations of the 2006 NICE guidance, Let’s Get Moving (LGM) – A new physical activity care pathway for the NHS (England) (September 2009) was launched. LGM is a behaviour change programme, which incorporates a physical activity care pathway (PACP) designed to help inactive adults aged 16-74 years to become more active. The physical activity care pathway can be to screen for inactivity using a validated questionnaire. Patients identified as not meeting the recommended levels of physical activity are offered a brief intervention drawing on motivational interviewing techniques, which takes a patient-centred approach. The brief intervention:

13. Following the brief intervention, participating patients should be followed up over 3, 6 and 12 months to check patient progress, encourage and reset activity goals.

14. The NICE public health guidance concludes that brief interventions are effective at increasing physical activity levels:

Physical Activity Referral Schemes

15. In Northern Ireland successful physical activity/exercise referral programmes have been set up in partnership with the legacy Health & Social Services Boards, Health & Social Services Trusts, (Primary and Secondary Care) Local Councils and Healthy Living Centres. For Example, the Eastern area physical activity referral programme “Healthwise” is a standardised referral programme for the adult population operating in twenty two locations in Belfast, Lisburn, Downpatrick, Newtownards, Castlereagh, Bangor, Holywood, Comber and the Peninsula. Primary & secondary care services refer patients into a 12 week physical activity programme in their choice of leisure centre or healthy living centre where they can access an individually tailored programme across a variety of activities. The patient is led by a qualified fitness instructor and is assessed at week 1, 6 and 12.

Walking to Health Initiative in Northern Ireland

16. Walking for Health aims to encourage people, particularly those who take little exercise, to undertake short regular walks in their communities. A health walk has been defined as; “a purposeful, brisk walk undertaken on a regular basis” and can include any walk which is specifically designed and carried out for the purpose of improving an individual’s health.

17. The Northern Ireland Physical Activity Strategy published in 1996 highlighted the need to promote physical activity targeted at the sedentary population and identified walking as a key activity to be promoted.

18. As a result a walking campaign with resource materials was developed and a Get Active in the Community small grants programme was established to support community groups to develop walking programmes.

19. At a local level, four Physical Activity Coordinators for Northern Ireland supported a one-day walk-leader training course. This training was initially supported by the Countryside Agency in England, using funding provided by the British Heart Foundation. Walk-leader training courses have been provided to a wide range of adult volunteers and staff working within various community, voluntary and health care settings. This training course includes practical advice on leading a walk and information on keeping people motivated. Once volunteers have completed training they qualify for inclusion in third party liability insurance cover provided nationally through Natural England (formerly the Countryside Agency). Over the past nine years, approximately 2000 people have trained as walk leaders and recent records suggest that approximately 1000 walk leaders are currently active across Northern Ireland.

20. Trained walk leaders are encouraged and supported to develop and sustain new walking for health groups within their local community or work setting. To date approximately 200 walking groups have been established as a result of training walk leaders. Most walking groups meet on a weekly basis and provide a programme of short led walks. The majority of walk leaders are volunteers and do not get paid expenses. Some groups are also supported by local council employed countryside officers and paid staff working within various community and voluntary organisations.

21. The Countryside Access and Activities Network has developed a website to promote walking across Northern Ireland (www.walkni.co.uk) and has also developed a walking opportunities publications to advertise walks. A number of local councils have developed maps with details of walking routes within Council areas. The majority of Council’s have also linked with the Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke Association to develop Highway to Health walking routes. These are short signed walking routes located mainly within urban town centres.

22. A number of other regional organisations also support the promotion of walking including the Northern Ireland Forest Service, National Trust, Department of Regional Development, Environment and Heritage Service and Sustrans.

23. The Public Health Agency is currently commissioning a consultation to assess the current development and promotion of walking for health in Northern Ireland and identify options for future development. This will identify current strengths and weakness of walking for health initiatives within Northern Ireland, compare northern Ireland with other UK walking schemes, and recommend future promotion and development of ‘Walking for Health’ in Northern Ireland.

Additional points for consideration

24. The Obesity Prevention Steering Group is currently developing an Obesity Strategic Framework which will include a number of physical activity actions and outcomes. These are being developed by the Physical Activity Advisory Group, one of four policy advisory sub-groups established to support the work of the Obesity Prevention Steering Group. These actions have yet to be issued for public consultation, although stakeholders have been present at a number of facilitated physical activity workshops in order to inform their development. It will be important that links are strengthened with the emerging service frameworks such as cardiovascular health, mental health and respiratory health which include recommended standards for physical activity.

25. In 1999 Northern Ireland established four local multi-sectoral, multi-agency physical activity groups across each of the four geographical areas in Northern Ireland (North, South, West and East) to support and implement the Northern Ireland Physical Activity Strategy – Be active – be healthy, 1996-2002. The Public Health Agency continues to support this longstanding local and regional approach to planning and implementation. The overall aim of this strategy is to increase levels of health- related physical activity, particularly among those who exercise least. These steering groups are still working effectively at local level to increase participation. It will be important that any future plans build upon the work already being undertaken and use the existing infrastructure to coordinate regional developments.

26. Given the experience over the past decade there is much to build upon in any future strategic approach to increasing levels of physical activity in the population. The Public Health Agency endorses the need to work with all government departments, agencies as well as local community and voluntary sectors advancing this goal.

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Evidence submitted by RNIB Northern Ireland

Introduction

RNIB welcomes this opportunity to submit evidence to the Committee’s enquiry into sport and physical activity. We would be delighted to have an opportunity to augment this with oral evidence in due course.

People who are blind or partially sighted often end up being more sedentary and less active than they would like. This has a detrimental effect on their health and well being.

Below we:

RNIB Northern Ireland is the major provider of direct and indirect services for the benefit of blind and partially sighted people throughout Northern Ireland. Together with our members and service users we also seek to achieve positive and lasting change by influencing decision makers in all sectors. At Assembly and Executive level we work through the All Party Group on visual Impairment and the Vision Strategy Implementation Group respectively. The latter includes representation at senior official level from the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure.

Direct Services

We organise or support a range of sports clubs providing opportunities for blind and partially sighted people to keep active while enjoying themselves and meeting people.

At local level our Community Vision Co-ordinators also arrange various recreational activities for their clients.

Research

However, we alone cannot eradicate the barriers faced by people with sight loss, nor should we be the main provider of opportunities.

In 2008 we conducted research, which led to the publication of our campaign report, “Good To See You Out”, launched at the House of Sport in February 2009.

Below we reproduce first the recommendations from this report and then extracts from the Executive Summary which offer more detail on our findings.

We hope that these recommendations will commend themselves to the Committee and form a basis for the Committee’s own recommendations for action.

Recommendations and Calls to Action

If people with sight loss are to be enabled to take part more fully and more extensively in active recreational and sporting activities, a number of measures need to be put in place by service providers and policy makers. Our research has revealed a hunger for more opportunity amongst a cross section of blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland. Individuals should play their part by asserting their rights, and the voluntary sector should lend its expertise. Over and above this, however, we call on providers and policy makers to respond positively to the recommendations below, contributing funds, commitment and human resources.

1. Service Providers, such as the management of sports centres, gyms, swimming pools or activity centres:

2. Transport Providers and policy makers:

3. Volunteer Bureaux:

Working with specialist agencies such as RNIB, develop pools of volunteers wishing to take part in sporting and recreational activities alongside blind and partially sighted people.

4. Strategic Bodies, such as Sport NI:

Draw up an action plan for your sector with milestones and targets. Provide funding and professional advice to encourage developments in your sector, and monitor progress. This work should actively involve individuals with sight loss and voluntary agencies in the sector.

Research Findings

As a society we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of regular physical activity and mental stimulus, and the dangers of obesity and inertia. People with disabilities face particular challenges in this respect, whether they simply want to walk down the street, do a few exercises, play football or go hang gliding. This is now recognised, albeit modestly, in public policies such as the Northern Ireland Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation and the Executive’s Programme for Government.

In the light of this, and our own extensive contacts with blind and partially sighted people, we felt it important to survey current sports and leisure provision and the views of active and inactive blind and partially sighted people. We therefore undertook a small piece of qualitative and quantitative research, the nature and outcome of which is presented in our report, “Good to See You Out”, published in February 2009.

The purpose of the research was to identify and analyse any areas of unmet need for sporting and recreational activity and to identify any barriers to participation.

This research has assisted us in planning our own future service delivery and enabled us to make informed recommendations to stakeholders, including Government and public bodies, on the steps that should be taken to meet the needs identified.

We designed the research to cover “active” sporting and leisure activities. Not only competitive sport but also the sorts of recreational activities that take place in leisure centres or in gyms; in parks or in the countryside; active exercise at home; holidays; and hobbies, including gardening. For convenience, we broke our questioning down into four areas: Sport and exercise; Holidays; Hobbies; and “Cultural” activities, such as going to the cinema or to concerts.

This Committee evidence concentrates on those areas of the research relating to sport and physical activity.

During the first quarter of 2008 we conducted four focus groups across the Province and received 41 individual questionnaires. Both pieces of research have been written up in detail, available on request, and are summarised in our report.

We sought the views of as wide a range of people as possible. A number of older people assumed that “sport” or “activity” was not for them, and the majority of our survey respondents are of working age. On the other hand, focus groups contained a higher proportion of people above retirement age.

The results from the individual questionnaire responses are encouraging and disturbing at the same time.

Encouraging in that many blind and partially sighted people are participating in sporting activities and attending cultural events, taking up hobbies and going on holiday, but disturbing because there is a consistently reported desire on the part of respondents to do more. They want to participate to a greater degree in activities already undertaken, and also access a wider set of activities.

The principal barriers identified related to lack of information; lack of a companion with whom to undertake the activity; lack of awareness on the part of service providers; sparse public transport and cost.

We asked our own front line Community Vision Co-ordinators how they viewed the situation. They identified three main barriers to greater recreational activity and these echo the concerns of the survey respondents. They are: a lack of awareness on the part of service providers; a lack of volunteers to accompany people with sight loss; and poor public transport, especially in rural areas.

Our focus groups revealed a range of activities undertaken but also a wish to do more. Those who had experienced several years of sight loss had higher expectations than people still in the early years of blindness or partial sight. In identifying the need for improved facilities, focus group members acknowledged that sometimes their own assertiveness and readiness to identify needs could achieve success. It was not enough simply to blame others! Participants identified poor building design and cluttered pavements as recurrent problems, as well as the absence of public transport. They pointed to lack of awareness amongst some providers, as well as to individual successes.

Familiarity was important in determining activities, and the majority of activities were undertaken in groups or with families.

Focus group participants highlighted anomalies in the availability of concessions such as free entry for sighted companions.

Conclusion

When asked what they thought they would gain from greater activity, respondents quoted a wide range of benefits, but by far the most frequent were “meeting new people” and “feeling healthier and happier”.

While it would be wrong to pretend that blind and partially sighted people are denied any access to sport and leisure activities, there is a hunger for more activity and a wider range of opportunities. The answers lie not only with blind and partially sighted people and those working with them, but also across a broad area of public policy.

David Mann
Northern Ireland
12th February, 2010.

RSPB Northern Ireland

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School of Health Sciences-University of Ulster

Cancer survivors’ barriers and facilitators of exercise in the context of fatigue, quality of life and physical activity status:
A questionnaire-survey.

Submission

Dr Jackie Gracey
Ms Janine Blaney
School of Health Sciences University of Ulster Jordanstown

The Summary below represents a survey of cancer survivors in Northern Ireland and highlights the challenges that this population face with respect to participation in sport and physical activity.

This work is part of an ongoing PhD thesis and will be published in peer review journals in due course.

Summary

Paragraph 1

Despite the overall benefits of exercise for cancer patients, physical activity decline and high attrition rates from exercise intervention studies have been well documented. It is thought that a least one third of cancer survivors exercise less after they receive their diagnosis (Blanchard et al., 2003). This decline is evident during treatment and is not recovered even years after treatment has been completed (Courneya and Friedenreich., 1997; Courneya and Friedenreich., 1999). Along with the increasing evidence to support exercise as an effective management strategy for both Cancer related fatigue (CRF) and additional biopsychosocial issues, physical activity decline and thus the sedentary lifestyles of cancer patients are becoming more apparent. The global aim of this study was therefore to investigate the barriers and facilitators of exercise among a mixed sample of cancer survivors and establish their fatigue, QoL and physical activity status.

Paragraph 2

Methods: An anonymous, mailed questionnaire-survey which followed a modified Total Design method was conducted with a convenience sample of cancer survivors with mixed diagnoses and staging. Questionnaires were distributed to 975 members of a local supportive care cancer charity. Included within the four sections of the questionnaire was questions relating to survivors’ demographic and medical information, fatigue (MFSI-SF), QoL (EORTC QLQ-C30) and physical activity status (LEI). The remaining sections collected information on cancer survivors’ barriers and facilitators of exercise.

Paragraph 3

Results: There was a 52.3% response rate from 456 cancer survivors (76.0% female & 24.0% male) who had been mainly diagnosed with stage I (18.3%) or stage II (21.0%) breast cancer (64.4%). Almost two thirds of survivors were 3 years or more post-treatment and the majority had been treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Fatigue was experienced by 73.5% of respondents on a daily basis (57.2%) and the majority (68.1%) had never been given any advice on how to manage fatigue. Non-fatigued respondents tended to be longer out of treatment, have less intensive treatments, a normal BMI, engage in exercise more frequently and were more likely to perceive themselves as able to exercise compared to those who were fatigued. Regarding QoL status, respondents experienced more difficulty with emotional, cognitive and social functioning and the symptoms of fatigue, insomnia and pain. Cancer stage seemed to influence MFSI-SF scores while cancer stage and treatment protocol seemed to influence EORTC QLQ-C30 scores. The majority of cancer survivors did not participate in any strenuous (90.6%) or moderate (56.5%) intensity exercise and only 11.3% were meeting the exercise frequency guidelines of moderate intensity exercise at least 5 times per week. The top ten barriers that interfered with exercise “often/very often” were mainly related to respondents’ health and external environmental factors. Similarly, exercise facilitators were those that addressed their health and motivational issues. The majority of cancer survivors were interested in exercising (50.2%) and felt they would be able to exercise (52.5%). Most preferred walking (76.7%) or strengthening exercises (36.0%) at a moderate intensity (60.2%) for 20-30 minutes (32.7%). The majority preferred to exercise with other cancer survivors (40.8%), had no preference on the venue (38.8%) and felt one year or more post treatment (33.9%) would be the most appropriate time to initiate an exercise programme.

Paragraph 4

Conclusions: Although cancer survivors continue to experience problems with fatigue long after the completion of treatment, it is apparent that they are still willing and feel able to participate in exercise. Exercise barriers were mainly health related or environmental issues however the main barriers reported are those that could also be alleviated by exercise. Furthermore, lack of motivation, lack of interest and lack of facilities for cancer patients are issues that can be overcome if cancer survivors exercise facilitators and preferences were in place. The evidence presented in this study may contribute to the development of future exercise intervention studies and rehabilitation programmes for cancer survivors. Such programmes may assist cancer survivors toward a more active lifestyle and a move away from sedentary living, which in turn may help mange fatigue and improve their QoL

A submission by SkillsActive, 12 February 2010

Background information about SkillsActive

1.1 SkillsActive is an employer led organisation recognised and licensed by Government as the Sector Skills Council for Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being. We have been charged with leading the skills and productivity drive within the Sport and Recreation, Health and Fitness, Playwork, The Outdoors and the Caravan Industries.

SkillsActive Vision – More People, Better Skilled, Better Qualified

SkillsActive Mission – To deliver the skilled workforce to get the Nation Active

1.2 We are working with and for the sector to:

1.3 SkillsActive is a registered charity and a membership organisation for employers and voluntary organisations in the Active Leisure sector. We receive funding for our core functions from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, as a result of being licensed by government.

1.4 We work in close partnership with the Department for Employment & Learning in Northern Ireland and across the UK with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Devolved governments and the Home Country Sport Councils to deliver our programme of activities. SkillsActive’s work is directed by a Board of Trustees and Home Country committees.

1.5 SkillsActive works with employers to set National Occupational Standards for training and qualifications in the sport and recreation, health and fitness, playwork, the outdoors and the caravan industries.

1.6 SkillsActive has offices across the UK. Contact details for Northern Ireland and for further contact relating to this response: Siobhan Weir, SkillsActive NI Manager, C/o South Eastern Regional College, 1 Castlewellan Road, Newcastle, BT33 0UR. 02843751006

SkillsActive’s area of expertise

SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council for the UK Active Leisure sector. Sector Skills Councils are employer-driven organisations licensed by Government to articulate the voice of the employers on skills issues. SkillsActive’s area of expertise lies in three mains areas:

1. Setting and raising workplace standards

2. Approving qualifications

3. Providing Labour Market Intelligence - including employment rates and skills levels and identifying skills gaps and shortages

Factual information SkillsActive have to offer the Committee

1. 1 The role of competent and qualified workforce in improving participation in sport & physical recreation

SkillsActive’s research suggests that if we are to be successful in engaging more people in sport and physical recreation, we will need to ensure that we have in place a qualified and competent workforce, equipped with the right skills to deliver the type of service a new active population will demand. Without the right people, with the right skills in place, the proposed adult participation rates in sport and physical recreation may not be achieved.

1.2 Key Recommendation: SkillsActive would encourage the Committee to include in its final Report a recommendation to ensure a competent and qualified sporting industry where the public can engage in sport and active recreation, safe in the knowledge that they are in good hands, whether this is at a sports club, a gym, or on an adventure holiday. Investment in skills, through a process of workforce development planning is, therefore is a pre-requisite for meeting the Committee’s targets.

2. 1 The role of Workforce Development Planning in improving participation in sport & physical recreation

The purpose of a Workforce Development Plan is to raise the skills and quality of a developing sporting workforce. There is strong evidence that these plans can contribute to an increase participation in sport. For example, the Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin County Sports Partnership was produced to address the aim of ‘increasing participation in sport and physical activity by 1%’.

www.shropshiretelfordwrekinsportspartnership.org.uk/downloads/WorkforceDevelopmentPlan.doc

The strength of a Workforce Development Plans is that development focuses on all of the sporting workforce - coaches, volunteers, professionals such as Sports Development Officers as well as administrative roles such as leisure centre staff.

A Workforce Development Plan (WDP) is a plan that “identifies where an organisation is in terms of developing the skills of its staff, where it wants to go and how it intends to get there”(Skills Active, 2005). Increasingly, workforces are using the WDP model as a quality assurance tool for developing staff and as part of the IIP process. SkillsActive research indicates that very few NI sporting organisations currently use WDP tools for developing their staff and/or volunteers (SkillsActive NI Workforce Survey, 2004).

It might be worth noting that SkillsActive has worked with partners to develop a WDP model which is built around a strategic theme for workforce development (voluntary and professional) i.e. – develop an appropriately skilled workforce who support sport – teachers, coaches, volunteers, and professional staff. For an example of good practice re Workforce Development Plans, please see the West Yorkshire Sport partnership model and related workforce development plan (http://www.westyorkshiresport.co.uk/workforce-development2).

2.2 Recommendation: Embed the Workforce Development Planning (WDP) model into the sporting workforce system in Northern Ireland.

3.1 The role of professional registers in improving participation in sport & physical recreation

SkillsActive believes that embedding a nationally recognised coach licensing or registration systems into the sporting workforce structures in Northern Ireland could enhance participation rates. Registers are viewed as a vital part of the ‘professionalisation’ of coaching as an industry and has been referred to in many important sport policies including the UK Action Plan for Coaching. The need for coaching registers was articulated in recent research carried out by SkillsActive in Northern Ireland (The Active Leisure Workforce in Northern Ireland, SkillsActive, 2009)

Registers have been used successfully in other Active Leisure sectors. A good example is the Register of Exercise Professionals. The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is ‘ … an independent public register which recognises the qualifications and expertise of exercise and fitness professionals in the UK’ (SkillsActive 2008). One of the key functions of REPs is to provide a system of regulation for instructors and trainers to ensure that they meet the health and fitness industry’s agreed National Occupational Standards (NOS). Membership of REPs provides assurance and confidence to consumers, employers and health professions that all registered exercise and fitness professionals are appropriately qualified and have the knowledge, competence and skills to perform specific roles. The REPs provides an entry framework within which individual instructors can achieve the highest standard of professionalism, linked to best practice in the exercise and fitness industry.

3.2 Recommendation The provision of an independent and impartial Register Scheme for Coaches should be considered by the CAL Committee as an appropriate intervention for improving sport and physical recreation levels in Northern Ireland.

4.1 The role of the Further & Higher education sector in improving participation in sport & physical recreation

SkillsActive research indicates that the Further & Higher Education (FE/HE) sector has the capacity to help support the skilling of the sporting workforce. For example, there is currently available (but no up-take in NI) of the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence scheme. Research shows that providing quality-assured, demand-led training provision can lead to a qualified and competent workforce.

4.2 Recommendation: SkillsActive would like the CAL Committee to consider the role the FE sector could play in improving participation rates. For example, a suggested target could be: ‘By 2012 to deliver 20% of workforce training through the FE/HE route’.

5. 1 The role of the qualified coach in improving participation in sport & physical recreation

Evidence from the Sports Coach UK report ‘Increasing Participation in Sport: The Role of the Coach’ shows how qualified coaches can play a key role in raising participation levels. The headlines from this report include:

5.2 Recommendation: Coaching should be established as a profession, recognising volunteer, part-time and full-time roles.

5.3 Related recommendations: A career pathway for coaches should be established that enables all coaches, tutors and verifiers to follow a progression route, not just in this career strand but others (both paid and unpaid) which will assist in allowing coaches to develop their professional capacity.

Compiled by Siobhan Weir, SkillsActive, Feb 2010

Sport NI

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SportNI

SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf
SNI to CAL Committee Re Public Inquiry into Sport  Physical Activity powerpoint presentation.pdf

Sportwales

Sports Council for Wales-1.pdf
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Sportscotland

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont Estate
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Dear Dr Bell

Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Thank you for your letter of 20 January inviting sportscotland to submit written evidence on the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure’s inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity.

Introduction

sportscotland is the national agency for sport in Scotland. Our mission is to encourage everyone in Scotland to discover and develop their own sporting experience, helping to increase participation and improve performance in Scottish sport.

We passionately believe in the benefits of sport, from the enjoyment and sense of achievement that participation brings to the shared pride that national success generates. And we believe that there is no other recreational activity which has the same potential to contribute to the range of national and local objectives right across Scottish Government’s National Performance framework.

Last year we welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee inquiry on ‘Pathways into Sport’ as it helped to raise the profile of sport in Scotland and explore some of the issues that need to be addressed if we are to realise the full potential of sport for individuals, communities and for Scotland as a nation.

In our response, we set out the strategic context before focusing on the specific questions raised by the Committee in its call for evidence. A copy of our response is enclosed for your information.

Strategic Context of Sport in Scotland

Reaching Higher, the national strategy for sport, published in 2007, provides the strategic direction for Scottish sport. It sets out two clear aims of increasing participation and improving performance and four national objectives, the building blocks, which need to be in place to achieve our aims - Strong Organisations, Well trained people, Quality Facilities and Sporting Pathways.

The strategy provides a vision for everyone in Scotland regardless of age, sex, disability, social background, race, religion or sexual orientation. There should be no barriers to participating in sport or to developing and achieving an individual’s potential. Key agencies must give consideration to equity and ensure they identify and break down barriers. We must build a Scotland where opportunity, quality and success are expected and delivered.

The strategy also states that increasing participation is critical to the achievement of our vision but there is some way to go to meet the challenge of achieving the 2020 target of 60% of the adult population participating in sport at least once a week.

The strategic context in Scotland also includes preparations for staging the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Glasgow 2014, and other major sporting events happening both in Scotland and in the UK between now and 2014, will bring a wealth of opportunities and are about far more than delivering world-class sport. They are about creating a lasting legacy for Scotland.

They are about making faster progress towards a healthier nation, developing healthy communities and a strong and flourishing economy. Above all, they are about making the whole of Scotland fit for the future and enhancing Scotland’s reputation internationally.

The full legacy plan was launched on 1 September, 2009. The Legacy Plan - A games legacy for Scotland - is based around four themes:

An Active Scotland- This section contains our plans to help make Scotland become more active. It details aspects of plans to help all of Scotland to become more physically active and also outlines the Community Sports Hubs programme.

A Connected Scotland- This section outlines the range of activities that will be undertaken around the culture and international themes.

A Flourishing Scotland- This sets out further details on opportunities for Scottish businesses. The plan also sets out what we will achieve in improving our skill base and promoting tourism in Scotland.

A Sustainable Scotland- This sets out how the Games will act as an exemplar for environmental standards

Participation in Sport

We have noted from your letter that, under the programme for government 2008-2011, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has a target for halting the decline in adult participation in sport and physical recreation by securing 53% participation.

As stated above the Scottish target for sports participation in the adult population is outlined in Reaching Higher and is 60% of adults participating at least once per week. The Scottish Government has in recent years added a number of questions on culture and sport to the Scottish Household Survey. The survey contains detailed questions on sport participation, motivations and barriers to sport, tuition, competition, club membership and volunteering activity related to sport. This survey contains analysis of this module of detailed questions, and is intended to form a baseline against which we can assess the impact of national and local developments.

Statistics on sport participation are not, however, intended to be measures of overall physical activity. Indicators of physical activity are collected through the Scottish Health Survey, which includes measurement of physical activity through work, transport to work, heavy housework and gardening/ DIY as well as sports and exercise. The health survey also records the level of intensity of physical activity in an attempt to capture the full range of ways in which people are active and to what extent. Statistics on physical activity are available from the Scottish Health Survey for 1998, 2003 and 2008. The Scottish Health Survey is now running continuously from 2008-2011. The first annual results at Scotland level were published in September 2009.

The Scottish Household Survey Culture & Sport Module was undertaken for the first time in 2007. Questions were asked of a sample of around 3,400 adults aged 16 years and over in each year. This compares with a sample of around 12,200 for the core Scottish Household Survey results from the Scottish Household Survey Culture and Sport module can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2009/12/14145937/0.

In 2008, 73% of respondents had participated in sport including walking in the previous 4 weeks and 48% participated in sport excluding walking. Participation decreases with age and males are more likely to participate than women (76% vs. 70%). Sport participation increases as deprivation decreases with 80% participation in sport (including walking) in the least deprived areas compared to 63% in the most deprived areas in 2008. Recreational walking was the most common type of sport in 2007/2008, with 61% of respondents participating in the previous 4 weeks. Swimming (15%), multi gym/weights, keep fit/aerobics and cycling (all 8%), golf (7%) and football (6%) were the next most common activities. Participation including walking did not change significantly between 2007 and 2008. Participation excluding walking did decrease slightly (from 51% to 48%) which, although marginally significant, should be interpreted with care as further years of data are required before establishing a trend. The most common reasons for sport participation in 2007/2008 were for enjoyment (54%) and to keep fit (45%). Males were more likely to participate for enjoyment than females (58% vs. 50%) and females were more likely to participate to keep fit (49% vs. 41%). The most common reason for not participating in sport was poor health (54%), followed by a lack of interest (24%) and not having enough time (16%). These figures were broadly similar for both males and females. Of those who had participated in sport during the last year, 22% received sports tuition, 33% took part in competitive sport and 27% were members of clubs. There was an increase in competitive sport participation between 2007 and 2008 (from 22% to 33%). This appeared to be largely due to an increase in events such as sponsored walks. Three quarters of people had access to a local gym/sports hall, outdoor sports pitch, or swimming pool within 20 minutes of their home on foot or by public transport.

Case Studies

Your letter sought information on examples of best practice from other countries and regions. You will be interested in the following:

Market Segmentation Project

sportscotland is leading this project in partnership with Scottish Natural Heritage, NHS Health Scotland and Scottish Government. The company Experian has been appointed to complete the work, having developed similar segments for both Sport England and Sport Wales. The sportscotland segments differ in that they are built using health and outdoor recreation data as well as sports participation data. This means that the segments will have a wider application across community planning partnerships and add value for health local authority, sports and recreation planning.

The project uses customer insight to drive participation in sport, physical activity and outdoor recreation

The project will use data from 4 surveys:

A selection of 423 variables was chosen to reflect the segments and these were balanced according to volume of respondents, overlap with similar questions and association with 4 key concepts:

The segment is profiled using all of the data and brought to life using descriptions and appropriate imagery called pen portraits.

The information will also be available using GIS mapping to visualise the geographic distribution of segments, right down to post code level. This will enable local authorities and governing bodies for sport to understand their communities better and to improve planning and targeting of services and programmes and facilities.

Fit for Girls

Between 2005 and 2007, 27 Scottish secondary schools took part in the Girls in Sport and Physical Activity initiative; a training programme for PE staff and Active Schools Coordinators designed to facilitate new ways of engaging girls and young women in sport.

The programme grew out of a desire to put in place ideas stemming from a wealth of research and experience of issues influencing girls’ participation in sport and physical activity. National research and pilot programme data show that:

By the age of 14, 65% of girls do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity;

Initial results from the pilot programme showed an increase in girls’ participation in 72% of schools who took part, and an average increase of 9% in girls’ participation within the school. In six of the schools girls’ participation exceeded or levelled with boys’ participation, this was the first occurrence of this since the recording of participation figures in Scotland was initiated.

Further support for the pilot programme has been detailed within good practice examples published in the FFG Case Study Pack.

Following the success of the pilot programme, sportscotland and the Youth Sport Trust were successful in bidding for additional monies from the Scottish Government to roll out the programme across all Scottish secondary schools. The partnership of sportscotland and Youth Sport Trust are accountable for the embedding of the programme and will report back to a Scottish Government steering group comprised of representatives from health, sport and education. The programme, now known as FFG (FFG) will be implemented in approximately 380 Scottish secondary schools during the period September 2008 – March 2011.

Highland Council High Life Scheme

The popular High Life Leisure Scheme, which provides low cost access to leisure facilities in the Highlands for regular users. Since being introduced in 2001, High Life has been a huge success, increasing usage of leisure facilities by 43% and increasing income by 67%.

Benefits of the High Life Leisure Scheme include family tickets of £21.60 per month or £15.40 for individuals. For those on Income Support, Pension Guarantee Credit, Jobseekers Allowance, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance a charge of only 50p per activity is made.

As a result of the success of High Life in the Highland Council area Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is encouraging people in the Western Isles to kick start new healthy and active lifestyles. Comhairle chose January 2010 to launch their new scheme designed to encourage the use of Sports Centres from the Butt to Barra. The ‘Slàinte Mhath’ (‘Good Health’) initiative is a Council funded-scheme which will mean that a family can pay £20 a month for unlimited use of all sport centre facilities whilst it will be £15 for individuals to take part in the scheme. There will also be concessionary rates for those on benefits.

The scheme, which came into operation in January 2010, operates on payment by Direct Debit and all users need a ‘smartcard’ to access the scheme. For those aged between 11 and 25 their ‘Young Scot’ card can be used for access whilst the over 60’s can use their National Entitlement card.

I hope that the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure finds the information contained in this letter and enclosures helpful but should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact me

Stewart G Harris
Chief Executive

Sportscotland

sportscotland-2.psd

The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society -
Belfast Branch

9 Belmont Church Road,
BELFAST,
BT4 3FF.
5TH February 2010.

Dr Kathryn Bell
(Committee Clerk)
Arts and Leisure Committee
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Your Ref: C38/10

Dear Dr Bell,

Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Thank you for your letter of 20 January 2010 re the above.

Participation in Sport can take many varied forms and one of the most successful ways for adults to participate is to dance.

Scottish Country Dancing is only one of various form of dance that is popular in Northern Ireland but one that is readily available to both old and young alike.

Belfast Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society was formed in 1946 and currently has 190 members in 8 adult classes in the greater Belfast area-including Newtownards, Bangor, Helen’s Bay, Lisburn and Whitehouse as well as 3 within Belfast itself. We also have 2 Children’s Classes

There are other Scottish Country dance classes throughout Northern Ireland with every County having at least one class. Classes are normally held in church/community halls

Scottish Country Dancing is very popular with some of the older members of our society, and whilst the social aspect of the dancing is important, there are very clear health-both physical and mental-advantages to those participating.

Scottish Country Dancing is an inexpensive way to keep fit-no special equipment or monthly gym fees to be paid-with classes, which last for about 2 hours, only averaging out at £ 2/3.00 per night.

This 2 hours off course includes the compulsory cup of tea!

I attach a fact sheet, which sets out some of the benefits of Scottish Country Dancing.

I hope you find these comments useful but think that the main points the Committee need to address are:

(1) access- i.e. local availability of resource;

(2) cost-both initial and continuing expenses; and

(3) personal benefit-both social and health.

Yours sincerely,

Joan Madill
Honorary Secretary,
Belfast Branch.

Scottish Country Dancing (SCD) fact sheet

Subject matter

Dancing as part of a set (e.g. 4 facing 4) therefore groups can learn together.

Formations such as circle, cross and cast off, advance and retire. Country Dance steps such as skip change, setting step.

Level

A beginner can easily learn a basic dance by the end of their first session. There are five levels: beginner, intermediate, advanced and very advanced as well as demonstration standard dancer and two teacher awards. As there are thousands of dances experience gained over time is also very relevant.

Health Benefits

SCD is weight bearing therefore it builds bone density helping prevent osteoporosis. It also reduces cellulite.

It is mildly aerobic therefore helps improve circulation, strengthens heart muscles, and raises fitness levels. 30 mins of fairly easy dancing burns approx.160 calories: the equivalent of 20 minutes of vigorous swimming, a half hour of moderate housework or sponge washing the car [1]!

Release of endorphins provides improved sleep patterns and reduced levels of stress and tension.

Social benefits

Building new friendships is a very common feature of SCD.

Participation in a group activity builds self-confidence through hands – on learning .SCD is a structured form of dance which men enjoy. It also appeals to those who regard themselves as “scientific” rather than “arty”.

Practical Requirements

Beginners: flat shoes, loose clothing. Dance floor similar to that used for aerobics.

N. I. context

Scottish Country Dancing became popular in Northern Ireland in the 1940’s. Ceilidh Dancing was part of many communities with Scottish ancestry.

Social conditions and the popularity of free form music and dance in the 1970’s led to a dramatic decline in the numbers of people participating in SCD between 1976 and 1990.

Cultural aspect

SCD is a non-denominational activity enjoyed all over the world. It uses both Scottish and Irish folk music. New dances are published each year so it is a living heritage.

Cost

A 10 week programme run by an RSCDS branch (includes teacher and insurance) costs approx. £60 [2] i.e. £2-50 per class.

History

“Country dances” from the court of Elizabeth 1 were popular in Scotland and in England. These “country dances” were pastoral dances set to Irish and Scottish tunes. There was the elegance and courtesy of the court and the energy of step of the old Viking inherited reels from Scotland. Scottish Country Dancing continued to flourish in Scotland after country dancing had died out in England. This art form was saved due to the work of two Scottish ladies, Mrs Ysobel Stewart of Fasnacloich and Miss Jean Milligan, who, after 1923, went about collecting old printed books of dances, taught a new generation of dance teachers, introduced some degree of standardisation and set guidelines for correct dancing technique [3] .

They founded the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society: www.rscds.org

[1] www.calorie-counter.net

[2] Sep. 2009

[3] Extracts from Factshheet The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society www.rscds.org

Ulster Angling Federation Ltd

Assistant Secretary
Mrs Dianne Archibald
14 Harwood Gardens
Carrickfergus
Co Antrim BT38 7US

Fax & Tel: (028) 93 368952

10th February 2010

Memorandum re: Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

The Ulster Angling Federation are the governing body for game angling in Northern Ireland. We have some 60 member clubs representing circa 7000 anglers.

The Pricewaterhouse Coopers Report of July 2007 produced for DCAL on the social and economic value of angling states that all forms of angling in Northern Ireland support some 780 full time equivalent jobs and are worth some £40Million per annum to the N Ireland economy, mostly from game angling. So not only is angling important from an economic viewpoint but we need participation to ensure its’ future.

Currently we would only have about 25% of our clubs who have a thriving junior section. This is mainly down to the current legislation on Child Protection which is stopping the majority of our clubs from encouraging junior membership because of some of the ridiculous rulings which have recently been announced.

The Ulster Angling Federation are of the opinion that the current Child Protection needs to be amended to allow proper participation in this sport. Otherwise, in years to come, the only people who will be introduced into the sport will be these children lucky enough to have a family member willing to teach them the art of fly fishing.

This is without doubt the single biggest issue in stopping participation in game angling. The Federation are quite willing to give oral evidence should the Committee wish.

R F Marshall
Development Officer
Ulster Angling Federation Ltd

Ulster Angling Federation Ltd

Assistant Secretary
Mrs Dianne Archibald,
14 Harwood Gardens
CARRICKFERGUS,
Co Antrim
BT38 7US

Tel/Fax: (028) 9336 8952

10th February 2010

Our Ref: UAF/11/03(Feb2010)

Dr Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture, Arts & Leisure
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Stormont
BELFAST BT4 3XX

Dear Dr Bell

Re: Your Ref C/38/10

I refer to your letter of 20th January 2010 regarding the Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity.

I should be obliged if you would study the attached Memorandum from the Ulster Angling Federation Ltd.

Yours sincerely

Robbie Marshall
Development Officer

Enc

Ulster GAA

11th February 2010

Dr. Kathryn Bell
Clerk
Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure
Room 424
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont Estate
Belfast
BT4 3XX

CAL Committee Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

Dear Dr. Bell,

Thank you for giving Ulster GAA the opportunity to provide an initial response to the Committee’s enquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity.

Ulster GAA oversees the work of nine County Committees and 570 GAA Clubs as well as GAA activity in over 1,500 schools and Colleges. Some 250,000 people are actively involved in the GAA in Ulster playing one of the six Gaelic sports namely Gaelic Football, Camogie, Hurling, Handball, Ladies Gaelic Football and Rounders.

The mission statement of Ulster GAA as outlined in the Provincial Council’s six year strategic action plan and vision “Teaghlaigh agus Pobail: An Fabraic de CLG/ Family and Community the Fabric of the GAA” is: “To foster and grow the GAA across Ulster, strengthening its position as the Province’s leading amateur sporting; cultural; community and volunteer driven movement.” This mission statement is based on five core values which underpin all the activities of Ulster GAA these are; Community, Volunteerism, Identity, Inclusion and Excellence.

As the largest governing body for sport Ulster GAA welcomes this enquiry and the commitment by the Committee to meet the 53% participation rate for sport and leisure as outlined in the 2008-2011 Programme for Government. Ulster GAA has set a strategic target of a 20% increase in participation in all of its sports by 2015.

Your letter suggests that the Committee will be seeking to identify the main groups within the adult population which have low levels of participation. Ulster GAA would suggest that groups such as women, people with a disability, people from deprived social and economic backgrounds, older people and non nationals currently have lower levels of participation that other adults. While the letter specifically refers to adult participation rates Ulster GAA is of the strong view that government must address the decreasing participation rates among our young people by increasing sports activity and provision in the education sector, valuing volunteers and the input they have in clubs and by improving sports facilities and capacity at community level.

It is clear that there are many barriers to sport participation; these include the lack of an operational Sports Strategy, poor investment in facilities, coach development and governance of sporting bodies. Significant capital investment is required to ensure that sport facilities cater for both females and participants with a disability. There also needs to be disability sports provision made to all the of large NGB’s and a joint group comprising of NGB’s representatives and Department of Education Officials led by Sport NI should be established to look at how to further increase disabled participation and roll out recreational games for older people.

The Department of Education estate that has sports grounds many of which are in the centre of communities must be opened up for community use outside of school hours, a Executive decision on this matter would allow an substantial increase in facilities with minimal cost and again this highlights the need for joined up cross departmental approach to the development of sport.

There are many obvious barriers to participation in activity. This need to increase participation has been constantly on the agenda for over thirty years and we still do not seem to have it right. To date there is no Sports and Leisure Strategy published that sets out clear programmes that will make an impact on under-represented groups. More than ever quick fix solutions are being adopted and adequate time is not being spent embedding programmes and letting them become established.

Access to suitable facilities at an affordable price and proper guidance to groups help develop the sense of community that is required to fully engage people and get them into physical activity and maximise the health and wellness benefits. Maximising the use of existing facilities in schools is not always possible whereby the school is often closed during peoples leisure time.

There has been excellent work done by the Department of Education through the Minister’s Sport in Schools physical literacy programme. This targets Foundation and Key Stage 1, however, this good work is lost when there is no investment and continuity through to key stage two in Primary schools. There is a lack of resources invested in a structured programme that allows the right development at the right time. Children must learn the basic physical literacy skills to prepare for playing sports and to be involved in any type of physical activity. These basic movement skills need to be established and when proficient it makes the taking part in sports or activities more pleasurable. The investment in one area or age group has to be sustained and further investment in our primary school children as they get older otherwise the “ladder of development” is broken.

A greater emphasis on physical education in second level schools is also required. It becomes optional at 16 and young people opt out or are turned off and schools become focused on achieving results. All the research and experience will tell us that 16+ is the age where we lose them most and sustaining activity through 16 to 18 is key to lifelong participation in activity. All second level schools should be requiring their young people to so some sort of activity through to when they leave. This will range from active field sports through to dance and yoga that may be attractive to others. The system currently allows them to opt out.

People with learning and physical disabilities are also keen to be involved in appropriate physical activities. Ulster GAA’s experience in this area has been positive and there is recognition of the need to engage further with this group within clubs and schools. There is a lack of specialist expertise within sports clubs to cope with the demands from people with learning and physical disabilities. This is a capacity issue and needs addressed through education and qualifications frameworks.

Older people are becoming more sedentary or are opting for the easy recreational opportunities. There is less motivation for volunteers to be involved in delivery of activities outside of working hours. Direct links between health and exercise needs to be reinforced and Ulster GAA has been operating well man and well woman clinics to raise awareness of health issues and to encourage participation. Games and activities suitable for this age group need to be encouraged at local grassroots levels. Active communities coaches who will interact with the clubs will encourage this practice.

There is a need for mass education of the population. Ulster GAA has been moving forward with Recreational GAA for over 40’s, Gaelic 4 Girls and Gaelic 4 Mothers encouraging everyone to take part. There is a need to consolidate opportunities for this type of activity and to ensure that the fun element stays as part of this programme. Sports clubs are at the heart of communities and flexible use of facilities to promote health for older people, use of floodlighting on pitches to allow people to walk and jog safely around the premises while teams are training are easy ways to utilise facilities. Promotion of handball, circuits for older people, keep fit and other activities show very clearly that activity can continue well after retirement.

Elite players are ambassadors for our sports. Quite often they earn a lot of money or get a lot of press from their sport and slip away into oblivion. They need to be more proactive and help promote the sports at the grassroots. Young people are influenced by role models and activity ambassadors can have a big impact in influencing and sustaining participation.

Ulster GAA has always had the view that government must take a collaborative approach to the development of sport and the promotion of general health and well-being. The Scottish Executive have already taken innovative steps in this area with the formation of a government department for Health and Well-being that includes responsibility for sport, additionally the Scottish Parliament have established a Committee for Health and Sport with a remit for health policy and sports development.

Ulster GAA would suggest that members of the CAL committee review the Elite Funding Review Report 2001 report which prepared by a Committee reviewing sports provision for the then British Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport chaired by Dr. Jack Cunningham MP. This report outlines the important role that National Governing Bodies play in the overall development and promoting of sport. The report identifies the need to develop strategies that focus on increasing sports provision and volunteering at community level, the report also calls for increased funding for National Governing Bodies which would empower the bodies to further increase grassroots participation. The report encourages additional investment to increase the capacity of NGB’s and community sports Clubs something Ulster GAA would strongly endorse.

Ulster GAA would call on the Executive to provide the required amount of funding to roll out a inclusive sports strategy that has input and involvement from other government departments such as the Department of Education, Department of Social Development, OFDMFM and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in addition to the sports specific public bodies such as Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and Sport NI. The only way that the declining participation rates will be addressed is by a collaborative approach that focuses on participation in sport rather than the development of the elite. It is also clear that investment in sport will have huge cost saving implications on future Heath, Social Development and Justice budgets when one considers sports wider role in society and impact that grassroot sporting clubs have on health and wellbeing, community capacity building, dealing with anti-social behaviour, and good community relations. The tourism potential and economic benefits of large sporting events also need to highlighted and researched.

Currently public investment in sport seems to be increasing focused on local government provision, while Ulster GAA understands the statutory responsibilities that local government has in sports development and encourages further investment, it would encourage continued and increased investment in NGB’s who have the capacity and the know-how to actively increase participation at all levels. The multi sport model which many local government Sports Development Officers adapt doesn’t benefit all sports and in many cases sees the GAA being excluded. But the GAA sees itself as a multi sport organisation catering for both male and female in Hurling and Camogie, Football, Handball and Rounders.

Finally the inquiry must consider the serious implications that the proposed budget cuts announced by the Minister for Finance in the Assembly on January 12th will have on sports participation. Under the proposed budget Sport NI may lose over £2.5 million and it is vitally important the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee use this inquiry as an opportunity to ensure that sport funding is ring fenced and prioritised from 2010 onward.

Ulster GAA would welcome the opportunity to make a presentation to the Committee as part of the inquiry. Please liaise with Ryan Feeney (Public Affairs Manager) e-mail: ryan.feeney.ulster@gaa.ie to make the necessary arrangements.

Is Mise le Meas

Danny Murphy
Provincial Director
Ulster GAA

Volunteer Development Agency (Agency)
Written Evidence Contribution
February 2010

The Volunteer Development Agency (Agency) welcomes the opportunity to contribute written evidence to the inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity in Northern Ireland. The Agency was initiated in 1991 and formally established in 1993 and is the centre of expertise in Northern Ireland for the promotion and development of volunteering. We are a membership organisation with members from the voluntary and community and statutory sectors. The Agency provides training, information and support to volunteer-involving organisations across all sectors on issues of good practice and policy regarding volunteering, volunteer management, child protection and voluntary management committees / governance. We play a key role in administering grants related to volunteering for the Department for Social Development and the Department of Education. The Agency also manages a 2012 Project which looks to involve, recognise and maximise the contribution of volunteers as part of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; with the important legacy of using the enthusiasm generated by the Games as a catalyst for inspiring increased volunteering and improved volunteer management best practice.

The Volunteer Development Agency would like to make the following key points:

1. In recent research commissioned by the Agency on behalf of the Department for Social Development, relating to the level of volunteering within Northern Ireland there were an estimated 30,569 people over 16 involved as volunteers in sport with over 14,000 of these volunteers involved as coaches. Emphasising a quote referenced in the proposed Strategy for Sport & Physical Recreation in NI ‘sports volunteers are the single largest group in the voluntary sector in the UK and Ireland . Over 78% of NI sport associated volunteers are giving time once a month and most are doing so on a weekly basis. In sports clubs the 3 main activities undertaken by formal volunteers are coaching (22.4%), organising and running events (20.4%) and working with young people (12.2%). It is clear that volunteers are the largest personnel resource involved in delivering sport in Northern Ireland. Therefore volunteer involvement has to be a key issue for this inquiry as volunteers and volunteering offers participation in sport and physical activity, as well as promoting it.

2. Emphasis needs to be placed on the recruitment and support of volunteers in sport when one considers responses from the Agency’s research indicating that over 92% of sports clubs / governing bodies cannot operate without volunteer support yet 52% of them are experiencing a decrease in levels of recruitment. A reduction of the number of volunteers in sport would provide a genuine barrier to participation for anyone wishing to get involved in sport.

3. The research survey also indicates that volunteer management within the wider voluntary and community infrastructure is more in line with good practice than in the sports sector. Volunteers largely run governing bodies of sport and these volunteers have to deal with increasing challenges in relation to, for example, both the delivery of sporting excellence alongside implementing governance and accountability. The motivation and capacity of volunteers across all aspects of sport is vital to delivering ‘success’ in opportunity, participation and performance in sport and physical activity.

The Agency would make the following recommendations:

1. Government should value and publically recognise the important contribution made by volunteers within participation in sport & physical activity.

2. Increasing the number of volunteers in sport will increase the potential for participation for everyone. Support for increasing the number of volunteers should be given.

3. Greater emphasis on improving volunteer management in line with best practice.

4. Greater support to be given to governing bodies, which are volunteer led. These groups need support to develop leadership and management skills to allow them to set a framework which enables improved and increased participation.

We welcome this submission opportunity as volunteers are integral to promoting, developing and delivering participation in sport and physical activity. We consider that volunteering requires to be given a strong focus and welcome the opportunity to provide oral evidence if requested.

Volunteer Development Agency
12 February 2010

Contact:
Lyne Greenwood
2012 Project Manager
lyne@volunteering-ni.org

Womens Centre for Regional Partnership (WRCP)

1. WCRP

1.1 WCRP Vision

“Our vision is of communities where women are recognised and valued as equal partners working towards a future based upon shared values of equality, participation and inclusion.”

1.2 WCRP Mission Statement

“To work in partnership to support and strengthen the voice of community based women’s organisations”

1.3 Background

The Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP) consists of four lead regional and sub regional women’s organisations linking with fourteen frontline women’s organisations across Northern Ireland. This partnership emerged from the report of the review group on women’s organisations providing support and services to disadvantaged areas.

1.4 The four key lead partners of the Partnership are the Women’s Resource and Development Agency, Women’s Support Network, Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network and The Women’s Centre, Derry. The fourteen Women’s Centres are spread across Northern Ireland with seven from the Greater Belfast and Lisburn area, four in the North West and three in Dungannon, Magherafelt and Craigavon. Together the WCRP will seek to develop and strengthen a regional infrastructure which will support community based women’s organisations across Northern Ireland.

1.5 There are four aims to the Partnership encouraging collaborative and strategic work on key areas such as influencing policy, identifying needs and gaps in relation to training, education and childcare services, improving communication on good practice and lessons learnt across the sector, sourcing potential sources of funding, etc.

1.6 The WCRP will tackle women’s inequality and disadvantage and support community development in the most marginalised and disadvantaged communities and work for policy change. The principles of inter dependence, co-operation, participation, representation and good practice will be at the heart of the partnership’s work.

2. Inquiry into Participation in Sport and Physical Activity

2.1 Women’s Centres and Women’s Groups have for many years identified, considered and implemented solutions to increase adult women’s participation in sport and physical activity and the WCRP would like to share with you the knowledge and evidence they have on what works for women.

2.2 Women often experience different barriers to participation in public and social life than men; including participation in sport and physical activity.

2.3 Women’s Learning Partnership Project

The WCRP initiated the Women’s Learning Partnership Project as a result of the knowledge and experience gained over many years on how women prefer to engage in physical activity. Women’s Learning Partnership Project (which is currently funded by The Big Lottery under their Live and Learn programme) believes in improving physical and mental health in the target disadvantaged areas. The project aims to improve physical and mental health of women by:

2.4 Range of Sport and Physical Activity Provision

The Women’s Learning Partnership Project deliberately set out to engage hard to reach women. The views of hard to reach women helped shape the nature of the proposed Women’s Learning Partnership Project response and their participation enables them through project monitoring and evaluation to influence the future development of the project.

Currently on offer in the prospectus are such wide ranging sporting and physical activities as:

2.5 This brief overview of the type of activity based courses the Women’s Learning Partnership Project are offering this term clearly indicates that the WCRP are cognisant of the multiplicity of women’s lives; older women; mothers; those with mobility issues are all catered for. It is the ethos of Women’s Centres to reduce the barriers to women’s participation and provide a holistic, supportive environment. The other courses and activities delivered by the Women’s Centres such as: Essential Skills; personal Self Confidence and Self-Awareness are ideally placed to recruit those most marginalised and least likely to participate.

2.6 Childcare

Lack of appropriate childcare is identified[1] in recent research as the ‘primary barrier’ to women’s engagement. The Women’s Centres delivering the Women’s Learning Partnership Project provide free on site childcare for those beneficiaries participating in the project (and indeed many other activities and courses offered by the Centres).

2.7 Examples of Uptake

In the first term across the 13 WCRP Women’s Centres, we enrolled 256 women in physical activities.

Some examples of uptake of physical activities are:

2.8 The Women’s Learning Partnership Project is ensuring the improvement of physical and mental health for local women in Northern Ireland, by:

2.9 The Gender Equality Strategy

The ‘Gender Equality Strategy’[2] recognises that: ‘treating men and women the same – that is being ‘gender neutral’ - is not the solution to eradicating gender inequality’ (p.15) and later: ‘treating men and women the same will not ensure equal outcomes because of the different experiences of women and men and the different economic and social positions occupied by them’ (p27). The strategy commits government to applying Gender Mainstreaming when implementing the Strategy. ‘To effectively tackle gender inequalities we must address the structures and systems which act as the root causes of gender inequality. To do this we must mainstream gender concerns into all our policies, programmes, service delivery etc. Using gender analysis to identify where structures, systems and society’s stereotypical norms lead to unintentional disadvantage and discrimination on the grounds of gender’ (P 26). Gender Mainstreaming ‘challenges decision-makers to question the assumption that policies and programmes affect everyone in the same way’ (p 27).

2.10 WCRP welcomes the research the Committee have already considered[3] which acknowledges that women experience specific barriers when engaging in Sport and Physical Activity. We would ask the Committee to take account of the multiplicity of the roles women have; e.g. an older, disabled women with caring responsibilities. WCRP would urge the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure to take into account the different experiences of women and the barriers they may face when engaging in sport and physical activity.

2.11 Our experience is that women are not reluctant to engage in Sport and Physical Activity when the right environment and conditions are created and every attempt to remove barriers is made.

Contact Details:-
Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP)
6 Mount Charles
Belfast
BT7 1NZ
Telephone 028 9023 0212
email info@wcrp.org.uk

[1] Dr Helen Mc Laughlin, (2009) ‘Women Living in Disadvantaged Communites: Barriers to Participation’

[2] OFMDFM. A Gender Equality Strategy for Northern Ireland 2006-2016. The Gender Equality Unit. 2006

[3] Barriers to Sport and Physical Activity, Aidan Stennett; Research Paper 15 Jan 2010

Appendix 5

List of Witnesses who
gave Oral Evidence
to the Committee

List of Witnesses who gave
Evidence to the Committee

Mr Paul Donnelly Sport Northern Ireland
Mr Nick Harkness Sport Northern Ireland
Mr John News Sport Northern Ireland

Ms Norrie Breslin Big Lottery Fund
Ms Joanne McDowell Big Lottery Fund

Dr Vinod Johani British Medical Association NI (BMA NI)
Dr Theo Nugent British Medical Association NI (BMA NI)
Ms Gráinne Magee British Medical Association NI (BMA NI)

Mrs Geraldine Compton Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP)
Mrs Louise Coyle Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP)
Mrs Tiziania O’Hara Women’s Centres Regional Partnership (WCRP)

Mr Gerry Kelly SkillsActive Northern Ireland
Mrs Siobhan Weir SkillsActive Northern Ireland

Mr Philip Faithfull Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA)
Mr Jim Rose Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA)

Mr Michael Boyd Irish Football Association

Mr Colin Coates Crusaders Football Club

Mr Ryan Feeney Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association
Mr Danny Murphy Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association
Ms Aileen Tohill Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association
Dr Eugene Young Ulster Gaelic Athletic Association

Mr David Boyd Ulster Rugby
Mr David Humphreys Ulster Rugby
Mr Shane Logan Ulster Rugby

Mr Nelson McCausland MLA Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)
Mr Ciaran Mee Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)
Mr Philip Spotswood Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)
Mr Colin Watson Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)

Appendix 6

List of Research Papers

List of Research Papers

Background Information – Participation in Sports and Physical Activity

Barriers to Sports and Physical Activity Participation

Barriers to Participation in Sports and Physical Activity – Role of Education

EU Perspectives on Sport and Physical Activity

GP Exercise Referral Schemes / Exercise on Prescription

Inquiry into Sport and Physical Activity – Submission Matrix

Appendix 7

Research Papers

NIA Logo (New).ai

Research Paper NIAR 611 04 December 2009

Background Information –
Participation in Sports and Physical Activity

Aidan Stennett

Paper providing background information on a possible Committee inquiry into participation in sport and physical activity

Library Research Papers are compiled for the benefit of Members of The Assembly and their personal staff. Authors are available to discuss the contents of these papers with Members and their staff but cannot advise members of the general public.

Summary of key points

Definitions

The EU defines physical activity as ‘any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure above resting level’ and sport as ‘all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels’.

Targets and Participation in Northern Ireland

Under PSA 9 the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure has responsibility for the following targets:

At present both targets are rated as amber by the Department who suggest the economic downturn has driven down participation.

The Northern Ireland the Continuous Household Survey (2009) demonstrates participation in Sport has been steadily declining over the last three years. Women tend to participate less than men. The survey reported that 45 per cent of respondents had participated in sport in the previous 2 months, a 4 per cent decrease on the previous year. Of those who did participated in sport 26 per cent played on average once a week.

The results of the ‘Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes Survey 2007’ show that 99 per cent of children in Northern Ireland participated in sport within the 12 months prior to the survey and 98 per cent within the seven days prior to the survey.

The survey suggests that children are less likely to participate in sports or physical activity outside of the school system with 25 per cent of respondents claiming they did not take part in sport outside of school and 21 per cent of respondents stating they were less active during the school holidays.

Evidence from Scotland suggests participation declines as individuals pass through school, a trend which continues as they enter further education and/or the workplace.

Scotland’s Experience

In Scotland 50 per cent of the population do not take part in any form of sport or physical recreation and women participate less than men. People with a disability are less likely to participate in sport and participation declines as people grow older.

Scotland’s current sports strategy aims to increase participation by 10 per cent through: improvements in infrastructure at local and community level, establishing a local sports forums, developing pathways from school-age to adult participation, ‘consider’ the sporting needs of an ageing population and developing an equity scheme to be integrated with local authority strategy including the Race, Gender and Disability Equality Schemes.

The Committee for Health and Sport in Scotland has also put forward recommendations in 2009 to radically overhaul the Physical Education system within Scotland’s schools. In the debate on the Committees Inquiry, the Minister for Health and Sport stated that she was “happy to take forward” many of the Committees recommendations.

Health Benefits of Sport

Participation in sport and physical activity can reduce the risk of common disorders such as coronary heart disease, diabetes (type II), stoke, hypertension, osteoporosis and certain cancers.

It is also effective in tackling obesity (a particular concern amongst children) and can have a positive affect on mental health.

Physical activity has health benefits that are specific to women and girls, studies show that it can positively affect body image, reduce incidence of teenage pregnancy, reduce teenage smoking amongst girls and may decrease a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer.

In 2002 the UK Government estimated that economic cost (that is the cost to the NHS, the cost to the economy of days off and premature death) of physical inactivity was in England £1.89bn per annum. These figures are disputed however with some studies estimating the cost to be up to £4.3bn approximately.

Barriers to participation amongst under-represented groups

Research shows that that a number of social groups are more likely to be physically inactive: people with disabilities; people from minority ethnic communities; people living in areas of social disadvantage; older people; and women and girls.

All of the above groups share common barriers to access. These include:

For older people and those in the economically disadvantaged areas health issues also act as a barrier.

Participation in DCAL’s Draft Sports Strategy

DCAL’s draft sports strategy 2007-2017 contains 24 targets, eleven of which relate to increasing participation.

The target to halt the decline in adult participation and increase it by three per cent is less ambitious than the equivalent target in Scotland (increase participation by 10% by 2020), although the latter sets out a longer time frame for it to be achieved.

A target to tackle the short fall in childhood activity outside the school system is included - by 2014 to provide every child in Northern Ireland over the age of 8 years with the opportunity to participate in at least two hours per week of extra-curricular sport and physical recreation – but the decline in participation which occurs as children leave school and enter further education or the work place is not addressed.

Specific targets exist to increase participation (by 6%) amongst women, people from areas of social need and people with disabilities. No specific target is set for older people although reference to increasing participation amongst this group is made. No target are set or references made regarding increasing participation amongst people from ethnic minority communities.

Contents

1. Introduction 413

2. Public Service Agreement Targets 413

3. Adult Participation in Northern Ireland 414

4. Participation Amongst Young People 414

5. Scotland’s Experience 416

Strategy Development

The Pathways into Sport & Physical Activity Inquiry

6. Health Benefits of Participation and Costs of inactivity 417

7. Barriers to participation amongst under-represented Groups 419

People with disabilities

People from minority ethnic communities

people living in areas of social disadvantage

Older People

Women and Girls

Common Barriers

8. Overview of Participation in DCAL’s Draft Sports Strategy 422

Draft Sports Strategy Participation Targets

1. Introduction

Throughout the paper the following definitions are used. Physical activity/recreation is defined as:

… any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure above resting level. This broad definition involves virtually all types of activity like: walking, cycling, dance, traditional games, pastimes, gardening, housework, sports and intentional exercise.[1]

Sport is defined as:

…all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.[2]

Both definitions are accepted by the European Union.

The paper is structured as follows; it begins by outlining the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure’s responsibilities for promoting participation in sport and physical activity as defined by Public Service Agreements, before examining the latest statistics on adult and childhood participation. The health benefits of physical activity are also overviewed.

The Scottish Experience is then examined, followed by a look at some groups prone to physical activity and the barriers to participation they face.

The final two sections provide a summary of DCAL’s draft sports strategy and suggest possible lines of further inquiry.

2. Public Service Agreement Targets

Under PSA 9, Promoting Access to Culture, Arts and Leisure, the Department has responsibility for two targets related to participation in sport, these are:

As of the second quarter 2009/10 adult participation sat at 45 per cent (an updated figure for child participation was not contained in latest progress report). The Department has labeled both these targets as having ‘amber’ status, which demotes one or a combination of the following:

When updating the Committee on its progress, the Department highlighted the findings of the NISRA Omnibus survey which noted that 16 per cent of respondents participated in or attended less cultural or economic events dues to the economic downturn.[3]

3. Adult Participation in Northern Ireland

The latest edition of the Continuous Household Survey (July 2009, based on a random sample of 4,500 adults), reported that 45 per cent of respondents had participated in sport in the previous 2 months, a 4 per cent decrease on the previous year. Of those who did participated in sport 26 per cent played on average once a week, while 17 per cent played twice a week.[4]

As Figure 1 (below shows) participation in Sport has been steadily declining over the last three years. The Figure also demonstrates less (and declining) participation amongst women.[5]

The report notes that 40 per cent of respondents did not enjoy playing sport at all. Of these, 26 per cent felt they did not have enough time, 21 per cent felt they were too unfit, 20 per cent had no interest and 19 per cent felt they were too old.[6]

With regard to sports provision, 53 per cent of respondents reported being very or fairly satisfied with sports provision in Northern Ireland.[7]

Figure 1: Individuals who participated in sport in the last 12 months[8]

Figure 1 Chart.ai

4. Participation Amongst Young People

Non-participation in sport amongst young people is rising across the European Union. The rise in popularity of computers and video games has been cited as one of the main reason for the decline. Rising obesity amongst young people and potential of health risks occurring later in life has given the debate on how to increase participation momentum.[9]

In August 2009 DCAL published ‘Young People and Sport’, which offered a secondary analysis of findings from the 2007 ‘Young Persons’ Behaviour and Attitudes Survey 2007’. The survey consisted of a representative sample of 62 post-primary schools across Northern Ireland, gathering responses from 3,463 pupils, from year eight to year twelve. The report suggest that participation amongst younger people is more widespread than among adults, although there is some indication that sporting activity is less likely outside of the school system.[10] The main findings of the report were:

The most common reasons cited for non-participation were shortness of breath (24 per cent) and being unfit (20 per cent). A significant proportion of respondents (34 per cent), however, stated nothing would prevent them from participation. Only 3 per cent cited expense as a factor.[12]

The link between higher levels of physical activity and the school system is apparent in the tendency for individuals to become less active as they pass from childhood to adulthood. The Scottish Executive’s inquires into participation found that:

Statistics reveal that participation declines with age at key transition points from primary to secondary school, from school into further education or work.[13]

5. Scotland’s Experience

Strategy Development

Between 2003 and 2007 the Sport 21 strategy has sought to improve participation levels and sport’s performance throughout Scotland. Reviewing the strategy in 2006 the Scottish Executive noted that it delivered some key achievements, namely:

It also noted, however, areas where improvements might be made:

Sport 21 been superseded by Reaching Higher, which sets out long term objectives until 2020. Increasing participation is central[14] to the new strategy, which contains an overarching target of 60 per cent of Scotland’s Adult participation at least once of week. Outlining the ‘challenges’ faced by policy makers in the region, the document notes:

In order to meet this challenge the Executive proposes a number of actions including: improvements in infrastructure at local and community level, establishing a local sports forums, developing pathways from school-age to adult participation, ‘consider’ the sporting needs of an ageing population and developing an equity scheme to be integrated with local authority strategy including the Race, Gender and Disability Equality Schemes. A full list of action is contained in Annex 1.

The Pathways into Sport & Physical Activity Inquiry

In May 2009 the Committee for Health and Sport in Scotland published the results of an inquiry – ‘Pathways into sport and physical activity’. The backdrop to the inquiry was Scotland’s poor public health record and recognition that ‘two thirds of Scottish adults and one third of Scottish children do not do enough physical activity’.[16]

The inquiry sought to encourage better participation rates, to understand why the high levels of inactivity and to examine the barriers faced by individuals ‘in the early stages of their pathway into sport’. The inquiry focused on three main topics:

The report identified PE as the ‘only comprehensive way of ensuring that all children and young people have the skills to lead a physically active life’. It is critical of the current provision of PE within Scottish schools and called for its complete overhaul.[17]

A number of recommendations were made under the report’s three main topics, these are intended to ensure: each Local Authority will meet the target of two hours PE provision in schools by August 2010; that every pupil should under go a physical literacy test to ensure they have the skills to learn specific sports; that pupils report cards include physical literacy skills; and a ‘general upskilling’ of all primary school teachers.

Furthermore the report recommended that all local authorities should encourage integrated local sports provision, through a sports strategy that includes: teaching of PE and transition into sports outside of school; the maintenance and upgrading of facilities, as well as improving access to them; and capacity building in local sports clubs; and unlock the potential for schools to be more widely used by the community.[18]

In the debate on the Committees Inquiry the Minister for Health and Sport stated that she was “happy to take forward” many of the Committees recommendations.[19]

6. Health Benefits of Participation and Costs of inactivity

The benefits of physical activity are well documented. Evidence suggests that participation in sport and physical activity can reduce the risk of common disorders such as coronary heart disease, diabetes (type II), stoke, hypertension, osteoporosis and certain cancers. Conversely, physical inactivity may increase the likelihood of such disorders occurring.[20]

There are also a number of general benefits to participation. Not least in tackling obesity, it is noted that a ‘planned exercise programme is an effective means of achieving and maintaining long-term weight loss’. The Northern Ireland 2005-2006 Health and Social Wellbeing Survey noted that 59 per cent of adults were overweight. Furthermore, 25 per cent of men and 23 per cent of women were deemed to be obese.[21]

Moreover, physical activity preserves the optimum ‘structure and function of muscles, bones, joints and the cardiovascular system’. There are also strong links between participation in physical activity and the quality of life experienced by older people. Finally, physical activity may relieve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.[22]

As outlined above, over the last three years, a smaller proportion of women than men have participated in sport. Sports Scotland has identified a number of health benefits of participation which are particular to women and girls:

As mentioned above, obesity is ofone the most prevalent arguments supporting the promotion of physical activity amongst younger children. Northern Ireland 2005-2006 Health and Social Wellbeing Survey estimates that 18 per cent of children aged 2-15 were obese, 20 per cent of boys and 15 per cent of girls.[24]

A further argument holds that early learning sports experience ‘not only develops physical competencies but, crucially develop perceptions of competence that underlie the motivation that is vital to continuing participation’. In other words, physical participation from an early age is not only beneficial in itself, but can set the ground work to lifelong participation. Although at the same time ‘young people from lower social groups, girls and young disabled people in greater numbers miss out on quality early experiences compared to children from higher social groups, boys and the able-bodied’ (these issue are explored in the following section).[25]

The link between health and participation in physical activity/sport ensures that promoting (or not promoting) participation has cross departmental impacts. The 2002 Investing for Health study, carried out by DHSSPS, estimated the cost of physical inactivity to be equivalent to 2,100 deaths per annum, 18,000 life years lost, and 1.2m days lost each year.

From an economic perspective, the cost of treating obesity in Scotland has been estimated at £170m per annum. A 2008 report ’Commissioning and Behaviour Change – Kicking Bad Habits’ estimated that the cost of treating obesity in England has risen from £9.5m in 1998 to £47.5m in 2002. It adds that in 2002, treating disease caused by obesity (such as coronary heart disease and type II diabetes) cost the NHS in England between £945m and £1,07m.

In 2002 a DCMS report, ‘Game Plan’ estimated the total economic cost of physical inactivity in England to be approximately £1.89bn per year, broken down across: cost to the NHS – £326m; cost of work absences – £780m; and cost of premature deaths – £780m. The same report estimated that a 10 per cent increase in physical activity would save £500m per year. These figures have since been analysed by the sports science department of Sheffield University, which concluded that they were underestimated. The paper, ‘Sport, Health and Economic Benefit’ suggest revised figures of: Cost to the NHS – England £1.4bn – UK £1.7bn; cost of work absence – England £1.1bn – UK £1.3bn; and premature death – £803m (UK).[26]

7. Barriers to participation amongst under-represented Groups

The Scottish Experience and other research show that a number of social groups are more likely to be physically inactive: people with disabilities; people from minority ethnic communities; people living in areas of social disadvantage; older people; and women and girls. This section looks briefly at each group and at the research which has identified barriers to their participation.

People with disabilities

A 2004 study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examining the participation amongst individuals with physical disabilities identified barriers across a number of areas, these included:

Closer to home, the English Federation of Disability Sport has published an extensive list of barriers to participation. Their list takes a broader view of the term disability, understanding it to include physical, mental and learning disabilities. It includes:

People from minority ethnic communities

In 2007, the independent body Sporting Equals, which attempts to address racial inequality in sport, conducted a literature review of research and consultation documents that provides an overview of the barriers to participation facing ethnic minorities in the UK. They found the main barriers to be;

people living in areas of social disadvantage

Research from Scotland suggests that there is a correlation between non-participation in physical activity and socio-economic status. The 2006 Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity: Public Participation, Barriers and Attitudes survey demonstrated that over a third of respondents in the lowest two income brackets never exercise.

Of the reasons for not participating, the most prevalent amongst people in deprived areas where:

Surprisingly, people from the most deprived areas were no more likely to cite cost as reason for not participating than those from the least deprived areas.[29]

Older People

A study conducted by the British Geriatric Society on physical activity amongst older people found that although 76 per cent of respondents felt they did enough exercise to keep them healthy, 36 per cent partook in no physical activity and 17 per cent did less than two hours per week. The report noted the following barriers to participation: