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Sport England called upon in Manchester’s battle with inactivity

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NHS and public sector organisations in Greater Manchester have signed a strategic partnership with Sport England in a bid to reduce levels of inactivity and improve health in the region.

The grassroots sport quango will work with 37 NHS organisations and councils, which look after the 2.8m people that live in the area.

As part of the agreement, Sport England will provide strategic advice, share evidence, facilitate connections with third parties, and support innovative pilots and evaluations designed to improve physical activity.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has earmarked five “priority themes” for considerations: building physical activity and sport into people’s work; develop increased opportunities for people with learning difficulties; aid the elderly with physical activity programmes; building physical activity and sport into the care pathways for terminally ill people; and working to establish a social movement around sport and physical activity.

According to the GMCA, Greater Manchester is “significantly worse” than the England average for inactivity, with 65 per cent of adults and 28 per cent of children deemed overweight or obese.

Additionally, it is estimated that lack of physical activity causes one in six deaths in the area and costs the health service £26.7m (US$35.1m, €31.6m) per year through consequential conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The formal agreement follows a six month commissioning pilot that included “high-level” consultation with commissioners and decision makers across Greater Manchester to “understand priorities, ways of working and opportunities”. The pilot received co-investment from Sport England and GMCA.

The move chimes with a significant part of Sport England’s recently published Towards and Active Nation strategy, which emphasised the importance of place-based investments with buy-in from the private sector, public sector, NHS and charities in certain areas with a commitment to improving health and society through physical activity.

Sport England referenced a pilot scheme which involved 10 locations in the strategy, but this agreement with Greater Manchester is separate to that particular initiative.

“We know that being active has enormous physical and social benefits, especially for people who go from doing nothing to doing something,” said Sport England chief executive Jennie Price. “Our partners in Greater Manchester see it the same way.

“Greater Manchester’s devolution agreement with the government, including responsibility for health and social care, makes them a powerful partner for Sport England, and I am looking forward to working with them."

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NHS and public sector organisations in Greater Manchester have signed a strategic partnership with Sport England in a bid to reduce levels of inactivity and improve health in the region.
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Jennie Price (front centre) said the GMCA was a 'very powerful partner' as a result of devolution
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