The independent report has highlighted the role that sports and physical activities can have in bringing about positive changes for individuals and communities in Scotland. Download the executive summary here and the full report here.
It evidences how sport for change, defined as “using sport and physical activity intentionally to bring about positive benefits for individuals and communities, to address specific needs”, can contribute to policy priorities around physical and mental health, education and progression, crime and antisocial behaviour, community cohesion and economic development.
Some of the key success factors identified in effectively using a ‘sport for change’ approach include the use of a youth work or community development approach and a clear intention to bring about change through sport and physical activity.
The research, which included a survey of 660 organisations delivering sport and physical activity in Scotland, highlighted opportunities to support development of this approach across Scotland. In particular, it identified a need for increased support around accessing funding, building organisational capacity and sustainability and evaluating the impact of activities.
Recommendations also included an increased focus on leadership to drive forward the sport for change approach in Scotland and the creation of more networking opportunities, enabling delivery organisations to share practice, receive training and promote joint working.
Kenneth Ferguson, Director of The Robertson Trust, said: “We know that engaging in sport and physical activity can be transformative for people, however we also know that this is not the case for everyone.
“What this report does is provide us with an insight into the approaches that are most likely to bring about change for individuals and offers clear recommendations on the support that is required to embed and strengthen this approach.”
Aileen Campbell, the Minister for Public Health and Sport, said: “We know the benefits that sport can have in getting people active but what this report highlights are the wider positive impacts it can have on wellbeing, education, and employment as well as bringing communities together.
“We firmly believe that sport for change can make a valuable contribution to local communities through offering opportunities to be active and delivering wider community benefits, and we need to not only maintain this movement but continue to expand it.
“I welcome this report and look forward to working with our partners to further support organisations in our communities to maintain and grow the valuable contribution they make.”
Commenting on the report’s publication, Mel Young, Chair of sportscotland, said:
“We welcome this report and believe that everyone with an interest in sport and physical activity and the organisations involved in its delivery in Scotland will find it beneficial. At sportscotland, we believe in the power of sport, in its ability to help instil leadership and teamwork among our children and young people, allow people to lead happier, healthier lives, and to promote social cohesion.
“We have been working closely with our partners in local authorities and the Scottish Governing Bodies of sport to build a world-class system for all. Backed by significant investment from the Scottish Government and National Lottery, that partnership has ensured that the people of Scotland now have more and better opportunities to take part and progress in a diverse range of sports and physical activities in excellent facilities, and, collectively, we can use this report to further strengthen the system.”
Morag Arnot, Executive Director of the Winning Scotland Foundation and a member of the Sport for Change Network Scotland, said: “We are so pleased to see that 69% of surveyed organisations delivering sport and physical activity in Scotland are doing so to achieve positive benefits over and above participation."
The report was commissioned by the Scottish Government, sportscotland, The Robertson Trust and the Sport for Change Network Scotland, and carried out by Research Scotland. The partners are committed to taking forward the recommendations and will be working together over the coming months to action these.