By Tom Morgan, Membership Manager, Sport and Recreation Alliance
More than 50 years on from the Stonewall riots, and Pride events across the world continue to emerge bigger, bolder, and well…prouder.
Each year, Pride Month is celebrated during the month of June to show support for those who identify as LGBT+ and to raise awareness of the inequalities surrounding sexuality.
Here at the Sport and Recreation Alliance, we have always been committed to using our platform to teach tolerance, promote inclusion and to continue to move forward the equality conversation in the sport and recreation sector.
Celebrations may have looked a little different this year, but the message has remained the same – sport is for everyone.
We teamed up with Lou Englefield, Director at Pride Sports to run a series of LGBT+ inclusion webinars throughout the month which were open to all and free to everyone.
Attended by over 500 guests, the sessions provided insight, strategies and best practice solutions for engaging LGBT+ people in sport and physical activity.
We were delighted to be joined by some exceptional guest speakers, including GB Wheelchair Basketball Star, Laurie Williams, Sky Sports Senior Editor, Jon Holmes, and Hugh Torrance, Executive Director of LEAP Sports Scotland.
The sessions covered topics such as including trans people in sport, inclusive coaching techniques and how to communicate LGBT+ inclusion work across social media and other channels.
These webinars were designed to inspire clubs, individuals and organisations to connect to new audiences as we strive to engage with every individual in our sector, from grassroots participation right to the very top of sports governance.
The more people we educate, the better access LGBT+ people will have to inclusive environments, and the closer sport and recreation will be to overcoming all barriers to participation.
June wasn’t just about Pride Month. Volunteers’ Week took place during the first week of the month and this year, it seemed to carry even greater significance.
The Covid-19 pandemic has reaffirmed volunteering as a way of strengthening communities, tackling feelings of isolation and spreading acts of kindness.
The Alliance relaunched the Volunteer Opportunity Finder to make it as easy as possible for clubs and organisations to take advantage of this extra appetite for volunteering.
Findings from our Hidden Diamonds research show that each volunteer creates capacity for 8.5 people to take part in physical activity.
We hope that by improving the quality and quantity of online information about local opportunities, we can reach every section of the community and help create a more active nation.
The Alliance has been a proud supporter of the Youth Sport Trust’s National School Sport Week for several years and we were thrilled to learn that this year’s campaign reached over two million people.
Despite a global pandemic, it was great to see a united effort by the sector to bring communities together, promote physical activity and support young people’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Alliance CEO, Lisa Wainwright, continues to call for government to commit to the long-term funding of the PE and Sport Premium to support improvements to the quality of Physical Education, sport and physical activities for young people.
If all children are engaged in physical activity at an early age, they are more likely to continue to be active as they grow up and develop a sporting habit for life, helping reduce inequalities that have been exacerbated during the pandemic.
In an action-packed month which demonstrated our commitment to inclusivity the Alliance also assisted with the start of two very important projects designed to improve the sector and connect people through physical activity.
The very first meeting of the Tackling Loneliness Network was convened by government and the Alliance was proud to represent the sport and recreation sector. The group will explore ways to bring people together to build strong community spirit, with a focus on groups at particular risk of loneliness and will work to continue these initiatives in the future.
Finally, the Alliance brought sport and recreation organisation together to commit to tackling racial inequality through the release of our Black Lives Matter statement.
Over 120 organisations quickly became signatories and we are hoping to release the next steps of proactive education, training and support very shortly.
One proud signatory is GB Snowsport and we are delighted to be working with them and welcome them into the Sport and Recreation Alliance family as we push forward together to create a more inclusive environment for an active nation.