How can we support and encourage positive environmental and climate action? This was one of the questions delegates were asked to consider at this year’s Active Sussex conference.
Up to 80 people took part in the conference, held at the Amex Stadium in Falmer on Tuesday, September 20.
This year’s keynote was delivered via Zoom by David Gent, CEO at Active Humber and board member of the Sport Environment and Climate Coalition.
During his talk, David described climate change as a ‘super heavyweight challenge’ and ‘the world’s biggest health crisis for us as a species to survive’.
“Climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected,” he added.
In his six points David said we must acknowledge climate change; make changes; tackle the problem; look at inequalities that are brought about by climate change; make our actions visible by considering climate change in everything we do; and be enthusiastic about the changes we can implement.
“We must start the conversation in our local communities about what we must do,” he said. “We really do need to make massive improvements before 2030.”
During the second session of the conference we heard from five different partners about their work in the community.
Jamie Lloyd from Sustrans spoke about a successful project offering Ukrainian refugees access to bicycles in East Sussex so they can get to work and college.
India Phillips, from DanceHub and Marina Studios, spoke about the Y.E.S Project, which offers street dance sessions across Sussex, and its Dance Leaders Award course.
Proludic’s Tim Bird asked communities to rethink their plans for building multi use games areas (MUGAs) and instead opening out the tenders for more imaginative ideas for targeted groups.
Tim Dancer, from Create Development, shared information about the physical education app BURSTS. The app offers personalised physical activities for children and their families outside of school using gamification and augmented reality.
Lastly, Caroline Ridley from Impact Initiatives spoke about its Ageing Well programme. Commissioned by Brighton & Hove City Council and the NHS across the city, the programme talks to people about their physical activity and introduces them to opportunities to get involved.
Getting the right person to deliver the right range of services was an important message that came out in the final session.
The conference heard from two residents accessing activities at Chilgrove House Community Centre in Wick and the Arun District Councils community engagement officer Belinda Brighton who helped to set up the sessions.
Ross Joannides, strategic relationship manager at Active Sussex said: “Listening to the lived experiences of people engaging in activity is crucial to us all understanding how we can better support people on low incomes.
“It was wonderful to hear the impact the sessions at Wick have had on the participants’ mental and physical wellbeing. Hearing how Janice Blackman went from not having the confidence and motivation to leave her flat to losing over three stone since April, volunteering at the community hub where the activity happens and signing up at the local leisure centre demonstrated what is possible when people are given the opportunity to be active in a way that works for them and in a place where they feel safe and happy.
“From Adrian Mitchell it was fantastic to hear how he was able to return to activity after so many years of being inactive, having played a lot of sport at school and seeing his opportunities fade as he struggled with his health.
“Both participants emphasised the importance of professionals understanding the local community to help break down some of their barriers.”
Information will be shared in the coming months for Active Sussex’s network event, which is due to be held in February/March 2023.