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I’m delighted to be introducing this report after just over a year in this role; a year in which I have continued to be impressed with the way sportscotland have supported partners across the sporting, physical activity and leisure sector in our recovery from the pandemic.
In last year’s foreword I was hopeful that better times were coming. While the last twelve months have provided continuing challenges, this report highlights the considerable amount of great work that has taken place by the whole sector to support communities and people to be active, and made a difference to so many across Scotland.
I’ve been thrilled to see more sport return and to be able to get out and meet those involved in delivering across the country.
I’m particularly pleased to see the strong emphasis on inclusion continues to be prominent in this report. This is ever more important as we address the impacts of the pandemic and ensure that the whole sporting system works to support participation across all groups and tackle inequalities. I am confident that we can continue to make progress in this area.
The Get into Summer programme was a great example of the sector coming together to provide opportunities for children, young people and families to reconnect, have fun, and be physically active. I enjoyed hearing about the many varied and innovative programmes that took place across Scotland during last summer and I know that these will have had a huge impact on the many children and young people that took part.
The pandemic has taught us that collaboration is essential if we are to address challenges and make further progress towards a more active Scotland. I am looking forward to meeting more of the fantastic people delivering across the sector and visiting more programmes that are working to achieve this.
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 2021-22 is our annual review. It covers the third year of our corporate strategy, Sport for Life.
In April 2021, we agreed our business plan for 2021 and beyond. This describes how we will deliver our commitment to our corporate strategy, Sport For Life, while supporting the sporting system to recover from the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
As part of this, we developed a revised performance measurement framework. This temporarily moves us away from reporting on our contribution to the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework (ASOF). Instead, this report includes:
- infographics that demonstrate our progress against our strategic priorities: 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
As Scotland continues to progress through the recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I am extremely proud of the role our sporting system has played, and continues to play, in that recovery.
The sector has again been faced with challenges, and our priority over the last year has been to support physical activity, sport and leisure partners through these challenges and back towards normality.
The sporting system has shown incredible resilience, and physical activity and sport has played a crucial and sometimes enhanced role at the heart of communities across the country. That would not have been possible without the vital work of professionals and volunteers across the workforce who underpin our sporting system and go above and beyond every day.
Working closely with our local, national and strategic partners has also been pivotal in navigating these challenges, and that collaboration will continue to be vital as recovery gathers speed.
We will all have to embrace new ways of working, but I am confident that the physical activity, sport and leisure sector will do just that.
This annual review covers a year during which we still faced significant restrictions to our way of life, but it also reflects on the progress that has been made to get individuals and communities back engaged with activity. I would like to thank everyone from across the system who has played their part in that effort.
Stewart Harris, Chief Executive, sportscotland
Playing our part responding to Coronavirus
Over the last year, our priority has been to support the sector to recover from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic while ensuring communities across Scotland continue to reap the benefits of sport and physical activity for their mental and physical health.
A key component has been our continued work with local, national and strategic partners to gather high level information on the impact of COVID-19 on sport and physical activity. We maintained our flexible approach to our investment, supporting recovery and ensuring the sector could respond to local need and help support communities across Scotland despite the on-going disruption.
Active Schools teams across the country have been building on the relationships established throughout lockdown. This has extended the reach of the programme to more vulnerable and disengaged children and young people. Community sport hubs continue to broaden their range of support to local communities to better address their needs. Many hubs are now directing support to groups that have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
“We have had more focus on those who need the most support such as young people from areas of deprivation, who are care experienced or inactive. Working with third sector organisations helped us better understand and work with the above groups of young people. Our whole approach has been adapted." - Active School Manager
We worked with all 32 local authorities and leisure trusts to invest £1.4m through the Get into Summer programme. This aimed to help address the negative impacts of the pandemic by providing opportunities for children, young people and low income families, to socialise and reconnect with peers. Across Scotland there was a wide range of free, inclusive sporting and physical activity opportunities alongside the provision of healthy food options and financial and transport support.
We supported recovery plans nationally and locally by offering a residential planning opportunity at our national training centre Inverclyde and Glenmore Lodge to all of our key partners, when restrictions allowed. This offered partners the time and space to plan and prepare for recovery post-Covid in an aspiring national centre dedicated to sport. We provided access to meeting spaces, team building and sporting activities and accommodation at no cost. We also brought sportscotland staff together with partners to continue to develop integrated planning across sport.
“Our staff had a fantastic time and relished the opportunity to reconnect as a team, face to face. The focussed time was invaluable as we continue to recover and rebuild stronger following the pandemic. The facility and staff were brilliant. We were comfortable, had everything we needed, and most importantly felt safe from a Covid perspective. We wouldn’t have been able to deliver such an impactful two days without your support." – Netball Scotland
We collaborated closely with Scottish Government on the development of guidance and support packages, including financial help for sports across Scotland to survive the impact of lost ticket revenue caused by the pandemic. We continued to provide support to Scottish governing bodies of sport (SGB), local partners and other sports organisations to develop their own specific guidance as we moved through the changes to restrictions and legislation. With a focus on return to sport, we supported the professional workforce through access to a range of online training and resources, all which were developed in line with COVID-19 considerations.
We supported athletes and sports to ensure they attained the appropriate qualification standards and get selected for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Ahead of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, we delivered 34 workshops to 618 athletes and 89 support personnel. The Team Scotland education programme is almost complete with 90% long listed athletes accredited as of 31 March 2022.
We provided vital information and support to partners through our communication channels. We worked collaboratively with partners to inspire and support recovery and re-engagement of people back to sport. We delivered targeted communications campaigns focusing on promoting the benefits of sport and physical activity such as #FeelYourPersonalBest and #TrySomethingNew. We aided our Young People’s Sport Panel to promote their Kit for All campaign to encourage people to recycle and re-distribute pre-loved sports and inspire partners to create their own local models.
We know that before the pandemic certain groups of people were less likely to take part in sport and physical activity. These same groups are also most at risk of worsening inequalities as we return to sport. A major focus as we move into recovery has been the launch of our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion approach. This brings our commitment to inclusion underpinning everything we do to life. We have built on strong foundations by developing a range of tools, resources, engagement and training opportunities. These will support the sector to develop inclusive practice and embed the new approach in their everyday work.
As we emerge though the pandemic, we recognise there are significant challenges facing the sporting system. We need to continue to collaborate and plan the recovery of sport and physical activity. Inclusion will be at the core. We will continue to prioritise our resources on the opportunities which have the greatest impact on people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is to reenergize the system, reconnect people to sport and engage those who are disengaged. The long-term recovery action plan and consistent messaging for the sector, developed by the strategic forum of stakeholders from the sport and physical activity sector, will help ensure greater resilience and responsiveness to the upcoming challenges.
- Gathering and sharing intelligence on the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) across the sport and physical activity sector.
- Supporting collective long-term recovery action planning and consistent messaging for the sector.
- Providing a flexible, responsive approach to investment and support based on partners’ needs, including additional targeted investment streams.
- Continued development of specific guidance, resources and training for the return to sport in line with changing restrictions.
- Supporting performance athletes with aspirations to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics that took place in 2021, the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics and the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games to return to training and competition when restrictions allowed.
- Delivering communications campaigns to promote the benefits of sport and physical activity.