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Ukactive National Summit kicks off: party leaders challenged to commit to improving nation’s health

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The physical activity sector has called for the UK's party leaders to commit to improving the nation's health in their election manifestos.

The appeal was made by ukactive chair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, during the opening of the annual ukactive National Summit, which is being held in London today (31 October).

Speaking to an audience of 600 leaders and policymakers from across the health, fitness, sport, leisure and business sectors, Grey-Thompson said the forthcoming general election will offer parties an opportunity to “invest in the optimism” of the physical activity sector.

She revealed that she had written to the leaders of the Conservative Party, Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the DUP, asking them all to address four policy calls in their upcoming election pledge. These are to regenerate the high street through physical activity, opening schools as community hubs during holidays, improve accessibility to active travel and to support older adults to access physical activity.

"A General Election is coming and political parties are finding it hard to read the public’s voting intentions," Grey-Thompson said.

"And what does this mean for us as a sector and ukactive as your representative body?

"We must frame our arguments on policy and regulation in a way that appeals to people’s hearts as well as their heads.

"Over the coming weeks and months, the team at ukactive will intensify its engagement with the main political parties, encouraging and insisting on commitments that support both the growth of our sector and the health of our nation.

“I've written to the leaders of the main political parties requesting a number of commitments within their General Election manifestos.

"These requests will establish a new relationship with our sector in a new political environment.

“What do we want modern Britain to look like? If our sector is going to flourish and thrive – if it’s optimism is going to be realised – it needs an environment that supports it and provides people with the opportunities to be physically active.”

This year's National Summit features a long list of high-profile keynote speakers, including Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Olympic gold medallist Dame Jess Ennis-Hill, former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell and Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard.

• To follow live updates from the National Summit, follow HCM Editor Liz Terry on Twitter: @elizterry

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The physical activity sector has called for the UK's party leaders to commit to improving the nation's health in their election manifestos.
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