The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic is exacerbating existing inequalities.
Research we commissioned Savanta ComRes to conduct is showing the widening gaps in activity levels across audiences that were already under-represented in sport and physical activity.
Other information from across the sector is building a picture that clearly shows some of these audiences are suffering more from the impact of the pandemic.
Of course everyone has been affected by coronavirus and the consequences of the lockdown, but not equally.
If we can address these issues as part of the phased return of sport and physical activity, we'll start to reduce these inequalities and reduce the long term impact of the pandemic.
Current guidance and how it can help you
A national lockdown is now in place across the country, with the current guidance detailed below.
You should minimise time spent outside your home.
It's against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they're part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you shouldn't travel outside your local area.
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
- by yourself
- with the people you live with
- with your support bubble (if you're legally permitted to form one)
- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
- or, when on your own, with one person from another household (going for a walk with someone counts as exercise).
Public outdoor places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.
There are, however, two exemptions to the national lockdown restrictions for sport and activity:
- Organised outdoor sport for disabled people is allowed to continue.
- Elite sportspeople (and their coaches if necessary, or parents/guardians if they are under 18) - or those on an official elite sports pathway - are allowed to meet in larger groups, to compete and train.
Organisations that hope to be able to provide a place for people to take part in sport and physical activity after the lockdown eventually lifts, or that are planning to reopen when permitted, can use this guidance, alongside the government's, to create accessible and inclusive environments that everyone can access.
Who can return to getting active?
Everyone’s circumstances and level of risk will be different and specific guidance continues to apply to people who are more at risk from coronavirus.
Those people are encouraged to stay at home as much as possible, but also to go outside for exercise where they feel safe and able to do so.
Guidance for specific audiences
We know many organisations are looking for audience-specific guidance, so we've compiled expertise below on the following groups of people to support an inclusive and accessible return to sport and physical activity:
- People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities
- Lower socio-economic groups
- People who are LGBT+
- People living with health conditions
- Disabled people
People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
It's well documented that people from BAME communities are being disproportionately impacted by coronavirus through exposure to the virus, having higher mortality rates and likely to have suffered a loss of income.Read more
Any planning for the return to sport and physical activity should consider and make provision for:
- The key characteristics of different groups and their associate risk factors
- The location of provision
- The economic capacity for those on limited incomes.
Additional and in-depth research into the disproportionate impact on different ethnic groups can be found in the report produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies: Are some ethnic groups more vulnerable to coronavirus than others? See specifically the key findings on pages 3-6.
Lower socio-economic groups
People and families within this group are likely to be affected financially because of furlough and loss of employment, with a potential need to access food banks as a result.Read more
They're likely to experience a huge change in normal routines, having to balance a changing household along with home-schooling for those with children at home.
The use of outdoor space will therefore be invaluable, as some families will have been trapped in overcrowded accommodation with limited access to open spaces.
Cost and accessibility are key considerations, as is the possibility of digital exclusion and limited or no access to additional laptops/tablets to enable a family to benefit from digital offers.
People living with health conditions
People taking part in our research have told us they're feeling worried, vulnerable and confused as government guidance changes. Some are struggling to find motivation and adapt their activity habits.Read more
Understanding and sharing this insight helps us all provide the best support we can to encourage the many people living with health conditions to be active at this crucial time.
For more details, see the We Are Undefeatable Covid-19 Insight Pack.
Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by coronavirus, with specific impairment groups advised to shield from the beginning of the restrictions being imposed.
Supporting your workforce and participants
As we plan for sport and physical activity to continue its return, there will be additional support that your workforce and people taking part will need to ensure an inclusive and accessible return to play.
There's a need for a greater understanding of mental health issues within the workforce, particularly when working with people whose mental health may have been more affected by coronavirus.
This could include people from BAME communities, people who are LGBT+, those who are recovering from the virus, and people who were previously shielding, or who have found this period particularly difficult. Free mental health awareness training for the workforce is available from Mind through UK Coaching.
We’re also seeing that many people are currently struggling to become or stay active, and hearing from them that they feel coming out of lockdown will make it harder to be active, and that they're more concerned about being active when the social distancing measures are, in some circumstances, reduced below 2m.
Reopening facilities - as and when permitted by the government - will provide additional opportunities to get active, but that might not be enough right now to overcome the barriers that people face.
In the coming weeks, we'll identify additional external resources (as they're created) to help you to support people to return to physical activity.
Activity Alliance and Mind have both published guidance that set out considerations for how you can support and reassure your workforce, and those taking part, to help reduce anxieties about returning to your facilities and activities. They include tips on your communications, training and policies to help ensure that everyone has a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment to get active in.
CIMPSA has published further information on indoor training and group exercise in England, that includes guidance on supporting disabled people to be active where they may require physical support.
UK Coaching's resource also provides a detailed and timely look at what great coaching looks like through the eyes of the participant and how they're feeling, highlighting the importance of understanding and responding to a person's motivations, needs and anxieties to enhance their experience.
The legal bit
This guidance note is provided for general information only. Sport England is not your adviser and any reliance you may place on this guidance is at your own risk. Neither Sport England, nor any contributor to the content of this guidance, shall be responsible for any loss or damage of any kind, which may arise from your use of or reliance on this guidance note.Read more
Care has been taken over the accuracy of the content of this guidance note but Sport England cannot guarantee that the information is up to date or reflects all relevant legal requirements.
Sport England makes no claim or representation regarding, and accepts no responsibility for, the quality, content, nature, reliability or safety of third-party websites or services accessible by hyperlink (“Link”) in this guidance note.
Such linked websites are not under Sport England’s control. Sport England is not responsible for the content of any such linked websites and/or any link contained in a linked website, or any review, changes or updates to such websites.
Sport England provides these Links to you only as a convenience and/or for educational purposes, and the inclusion of any Link does not imply any affiliation, endorsement, or adoption by Sport England of the website or any information contained in it.
The information contained in this guidance note is not organisation specific and therefore may not be suitable for your organisation or club.
We recommend that you obtain professional specialist technical and legal advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of information contained in this guidance note.