Home > Active Sussex Network 2024: How to develop the sport and physical activity sector

Active Sussex Network 2024: How to develop the sport and physical activity sector

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Active Sussex Network 2024

Network 2024: How to develop the sport and physical activity sector

Three key themes to encourage organisations across Sussex to work together to develop the sport and activity sector were discussed at this year’s Active Sussex Network 2024.

These included looking at how multi-organisational partnerships can maximise potential when helping to encourage Sussex residents to get active, how we can all make the sport and physical activity sector environmentally sustainable, and the importance of developing a diverse and inclusive workforce.

In total, 100 delegates representing councils, schools, the health service, Sussex Police, leisure trusts, and sports organisations attended the networking event, held at the American Express Stadium in Brighton, on Tuesday, March 5.

Sadie Mason MBE, CEO of Active Sussex said:

“It was easy to see why this was a sell-out event. 

“The content was relevant to what is going on today regarding climate change and sustainability and the importance of that on physical activity. 

“It was good to hear delegates confidently share the work they are doing, and sitting back and absorbing information. 

“It was good to be able to translate national policy into real local action and hear stories of real local action.

“It is quite clear to me there is a huge appetite for working together – the potential is immense.”

She added:

“A new generation of people is coming through both the sector and from outside the sector. Clearly, the system is starting to work and people can see the value of working together.”

The event was one year on from Active Sussex’s five-year ‘Getting Sussex Moving’ strategy launch, and the first session of the day looked at how the different partners across the network can work together to tackle the strategic aims of ‘Getting Sussex Moving’.

This session was lead by Anthony Statham, Head of Operations at Active Sussex, and looked at how individuals, organisations and the network as a whole can ‘maximise potential’.

Next up was the ‘Innovation Station’, which saw five people talk for two minutes about what their organisation is currently up to.

Lorretta Lock, from Defiant Sports, spoke about the importance of accessibility.

“My main bugbear is the lack of accessibility,” she said. “I would like to be a source of advice if anybody needs that. 

“I know for some people it can be quite daunting and feel like there is a lot of work to do or it can seem like we need to focus on more of our elite players and getting up the competition patrays. 

“But without grassroots and without focusing on everyone’s needs we are missing out on an awful lot of potential out there.”

Caroline McRoyall, representing Continuum Leisure and Buddle, spoke about the amount of free advice and resources available to the sector via the Sport England site Buddle.co.

Phil West, from Coach Core spoke about the social mobility charity and how organisations and people can get involved in the Level Two sport coaching apprenticeship scheme, which will be starting its recruitment this summer in time for the start of the next programme in September.

“We are looking to take on young people who are either not in employment or education or who have had some barriers that have stopped them from getting into the sport sector. We want to give them the opportunity.”

Steph McCabe, from Try Tag Rugby Brighton & Hove, spoke about the start of its junior programme (read more about the junior programme here).

Cath Donovan from Active Hastings spoke about what Active Hastings, part of Hastings Borough Council, offers and introduced different members of the team.

The day’s second session looked at the importance of environmental sustainability in the sport and physical activity.

It analysed how climate change impacts the sector and what Active Sussex are doing to help reduce their own carbon impact.

Duncan Anderson, CEO of South Downs Leisure, which runs leisure centres across Worthing, Adur and the new Sea Lanes in Brighton, took part in a question and answer session explaining what his trust has done to reduce its carbon footprint.

This includes installing solar panels, encouraging visitors to recycle more, purchasing electric bikes, and most importantly changing the culture of the trust so that the whole team is buying into the importance of reducing the carbon footprint.

He also spoke about the Let’s Go Net Zero initiative he is supporting in West Sussex.

You can watch the full Q&A session with Duncan here.

The final session of the event looked at developing a diverse and inclusive Sussex sport and physical activity workforce.

This session provided delegates with the chance to reflect on the importance of developing a diverse and inclusive workforce, with key partners showcasing examples of good practice, and sharing expertise and key learnings.

Sitting on the panel were Cath Donovan, from Active Hastings, James Gregory from StreetGames, India Phillips from Dance Hub, Maria Tayao from Diversity Resource International, and Caoimhe McDonnell also from Diversity Resource International.

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