Nick Bitel, Sport England with Active 4 Life Clacton

Nick Bitel, Chair of Sport England, the public body responsible for increasing participation in sport and physical activity, has visited Essex to experience some of the initiatives that are helping to get the county active.

One in four of the population in Essex (26%) is currently classed as inactive, which means they do less than 30 minutes activity per week.

In November 2017, Essex was selected by Sport England to be one of 12 Local Delivery Pilots to share £100 million of National Lottery funding to supercharge the opportunities for people to become active.

The Essex Local Delivery Pilot is not following a ‘one size fits all approach’ but instead will explore the individual needs and requirements of local communities in Basildon, Colchester and Tendring with a focus on poverty, elderly, families, and people with mental health problems.

The aim of the Pilot is to create real and lasting change to increase the levels of physical activity and participation in sport.

During his visit, Nick Bitel visited Jaywick, the most deprived community in England. He heard from several community groups in Tendring and Colchester who are leading the way in helping people to become more active. He went on to visit community groups in Basildon including Sport for Confidence, Motivated Minds and Home Start who are engaging with local communities in Basildon. Nick also participated in group discussions with local residents as well as meeting strategic stakeholders at Essex County Council who have committed to the Pilot.

Commenting on his visit, Nick Bitel said: “The Local Delivery Pilots are an important strand of Sport England’s strategy to ensure that everyone is able to experience the benefits that taking part in sport and physical activity bring. We know there are stubborn inequalities which can prevent this. The aim of the pilots is to really understand these challenges and invest into local communities so they find their own ways of enjoying an active lifestyle.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed meeting the partners, especially those from the local community, and seeing how enthusiastic they are to work together and make the Essex pilot a success.”

The Essex Pilot is being led by The Essex Health and Wellbeing Board, Active Essex as well as Basildon Council, Colchester Borough Council, Tendring District Council and other partners.

Commenting on Essex’s approach to the Local Delivery Pilot, Cllr John Spence, Chair of the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board and the County Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “The Local Delivery Pilot is a genuine once in a lifetime opportunity for Essex to test a game-changing approach to increasing physical activity and become a beacon for best practice. Essex is demonstrating the reality that an active lifestyle will make people happier, bring communities’ together, and make the local economy stronger. These are big prizes, and we are hungry to win them.”