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I’m delighted to be introducing this annual report as newly appointed Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport.
Commenting on this review on a period in which we lived through a pandemic, is a moment to reflect on the great challenges that have faced sport and society in the last year. But writing in the summer of 2021 we can also be optimistic that better times are coming.
I want to thank sportscotland staff who worked tirelessly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on sport and help to ensure as much sport as possible was able to continue when restrictions allowed.
More than that, I have been inspired by how the whole sport sector has worked together to keep people active, and by the sports organisations that found incredible and varied ways to support our communities. I know that community sport hubs in my own constituency have supported the population to stay physically active and is just one of countless examples that could have been included in this report.
Staying active has certainly been crucial to maintaining my own mental wellbeing during the pandemic. I have been running a daily mile now for over three years, but I’ve particularly valued how being physically active and connecting with nature over the last year has contributed to my wellbeing.
As more sport returns, I am excited to enjoy the social benefits of participating with others. Looking ahead there is a great opportunity to put sport and physical activity at the centre of the preventative health agenda and to ensure that everyone can access these benefits. Reading this report, I have no doubt that sportscotland and the sport and physical activity sector is up to the challenge.
Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport
sportscotland is the national agency for sport. Our vision is an active Scotland where everyone benefits from sport.
We invest Scottish Government and National Lottery resources to help the people of Scotland get the most from the sporting system.
A sporting system for everyone
Playing Our Part 2020-21 is our annual review. It covers the second year of our corporate strategy, Sport for Life.
In August 2020, we put our business plan to one side. We developed a short term action plan to respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. We used this plan to drive our work for the remainder of 2020-21.
As part of this, we developed a revised performance measurement framework. This temporarily moves us away from reporting our contribution to the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework (ASOF). Instead, this report includes:
- infographics that demonstrate our progress against the strategic priorities in our short-term action plan: supporting the sector and supporting society.
- case studies which highlight the impact of our collaborative work with partners across the system in the last year.
Chief Executive’s review
I would like to thank everyone who has gone the extra mile this year to put sport and physical activity at the heart of Scotland’s recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. During long periods of restrictions to our way of life, sport and physical activity played a key role in helping people in communities across the country maintain their physical and mental wellbeing.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, we responded by developing a short-term action plan to replace the previous sportscotland business plan. With investment from Scottish Government and The National Lottery, measures were put in place to support the sector and protect jobs, taking a responsive and flexible approach to providing resources for local and national partners.
As this annual review illustrates, the sector responded to the crisis by going above and beyond to meet local need across Scotland in the face of a public health emergency. Active Schools and community sport hub teams came to the aid of their communities, supporting childcare hubs and delivering essential supplies to those in need, while sportscotland national training centre Inverclyde hosted a vaccination centre.
With the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, we will see a return to sport. Throughout, sportscotland will continue to support the sector in every way possible and we look forward to developing our partnerships across sport and the wider public sector.
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland
Playing our part responding to Coronavirus
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to disrupt society. It has significantly impacted the sport and physical activity sector. Over the last year, our priority has been to support the sector to recover while ensuring communities across Scotland continue to reap the benefits of sport and physical activity for their mental and physical health.
Early on in the pandemic, we took a flexible approach to our investment to local and national partners. This helped protect the jobs of professionals across the sporting sector, ensuring the network could respond to local need and help support communities across Scotland. In 28 local authorities, Active Schools teams quickly adapted to support 149 childcare hubs, set up for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. This vital support enabled local authority partners to fulfill their commitments and ensured hubs prioritised the delivery of sport and physical activity. Many community sport hubs responded to restrictions by extending their range of support to local communities including delivering food parcels, picking up prescriptions and carrying our wellbeing checks.
We continued to gather information to help us understand the impact the crisis is having on partners’ operations and sustainability. This approach helped us design support measures based on partners’ needs such as the development of targeted fund to help support the recovery of Scottish governing bodies of sport (SGB). We collaborated with Scottish Government to help them make informed decisions about sport and to ensure sport organisations can take advantage of available UK and Scottish support packages.
A major focus was working closely with partners to help them plan for safe return of sport and physical activity, in line with government guidelines. Our system-based approach helped progress plans for school, club and community sport alongside a return to training and competition for performance athletes. We provided a range of specific guidance, training and resources to partners, including professional staff, participants, athletes, facility operators, coaches, volunteers, deliverers, parents and carers. In total, we supported the development and publication of over 450 guidance documents in response to the changes made to government restrictions. We equality impact assessed our primary guidance and training. This ensured we maximised positive impacts and took steps to mitigate any potential negative impacts.
Our national centres provided vital support. We worked with NHS Ayrshire and Arran Resilience Planning Team to use the sportscotland national training centre Inverclyde as a local vaccination hub for Largs and the surrounding areas. The first vaccination site use was in February 2021 with a peak of over 1200 vaccinations a day being administered. Centre staff played a vital role volunteering to fulfil marshalling duties. When guidance allowed, we opened sportscotland national training centre Glenmore Lodge to prioritise and support qualification pathways in outdoor and adventure sport. Our Scottish Avalanche Information Service delivered daily forecasts throughout the winter to support safety in our mountains.
Throughout the pandemic, we provided vital information and support through our communication channels. We increased the frequency of our internal and partner communications. We developed a Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources section on our website. We delivered targeted communications campaigns focusing on reassurance and responsibility about how we move as a sector to return to sport. We also worked with partners on campaigns to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity and to encourage people to stay connected during the pandemic within government guidelines.
Looking forward, we recognised the need to adapt what we do based on what’s happening round us. With this context in mind, we brought together a strategic forum of key stakeholders from the sport and physical activity sector. The forum collectively developed a long-term recovery action plan and consistent messaging for the sector, with the overall aim of building resilience and responding to the challenges presented by the public health crisis.
- Gathering and sharing intelligence on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the sport and physical activity sector.
- Providing a flexible, responsive approach to investment and support based on partners’ needs, including additional targeted investment streams.
- Developing specific guidance, resources and training for the return to sport and ensuring these are equality impact assessed.
- Supported performance athletes with aspirations to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics to return to training when restrictions allowed.
- Producing Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources.
- Delivering communications campaigns to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity.
- Supporting collective long-term recovery action planning and consistent messaging for the sector.