The vision for Crossford Bridge Community Sports Village is to create a place where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities could come together to engage in sport and activity. This could include multi-sport community leisure facilities, and there has never been a better time to invest in a place like this.
Recent research published by UK Active and Community Leisure UK found that in light of closures due to the Coronavirus crisis, nearly half of all public leisure facilities in the UK could face permanent closure without urgent investment and funding from the government. This would leave communities across the UK without shared spaces to be active.
The pandemic has caused a shortfall of more than £800m this financial year, putting 48% of public leisure facilities at risk. The research also showed that up to 35% of these facilities would not be able to open even when the government gives permission. This is as a result of being unable to access government support and loss of revenue, after being forced to close on 20 March.
The impact of leisure facilities
The availability of leisure facilities is extremely important to the physical, mental, social, and economic wellbeing of our communities. Public leisure provision contributes £3.3bn in social value to the UK each year. This is measured though savings to the NHS, as well as improved wellbeing and mental health.
When it comes to young people specifically, sport and activity can be an extremely valuable tool to bring children and teenagers together. It also provides opportunities for marginalised and underprivileged groups to interact and integrate with others in a safe space.
The older generations should also be encouraged to embrace sports and other leisure activities where possible. Sport England’s Active Lives research shows that the older you get the less likely you are to keep active. With the number of people aged 60 or over expected to pass the 20 million mark by 2030 according to the Office for National Statistics, now is an extremely important time to create places that are inclusive to people of all ages.
Engaging in sport and physical activity as we get older has numerous physical and psychological benefits. From reducing the risk of health conditions, to increasing mobility and independence, as well as helping to combat depression and loneliness. Therefore, it is important that people have safe spaces to keep active as they get older.
Sports and leisure facilities can have an impact on education attainment, productivity, reduction in crime, loneliness and engaging inactive and disadvantaged communities. We simply cannot afford to lose the powerful impact that sports and leisure facilities have on communities across the UK.
By investing in truly multi-purpose sports and leisure facilities, we can ensure that activity is widely available to every single member of our community.
There is an urgent need to create multi-purpose leisure facilities, that can withstand various challenges, whether that’s day-to-day adverse weather conditions or more long-term threats posed by crises such as the current pandemic. Places with options of both indoor and outdoor activity, and a diverse variety of sports available are more likely to be able to continue to thrive, year in, year out.
An investment of this scale into the social infrastructure of Sale could ensure that generations to come are able to engage in meaningful sport and activity. By creating a place that encompasses the needs of all corners of our community, we can create the conditions for widespread activity in and around Sale.
Future-proofing Crossford Bridge, investing in better sports and leisure facilities, and bringing more business to Sale could play an important role in reversing some of the negative impacts of Coronavirus. There is an opportunity to do this, while inspiring activity among people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities for generations to come.