Sport and housing
By Frances Harkin, Research Lead, HACT
Sport and physical activity plays a key role in people’s lives: you only have to look at the frenzy surrounding the World Cup in Russia to see the significance people place on sporting activity and the events surrounding them.
On a more localised level, sport and physical activity can have a more direct impact on people’s lives, contributing towards improved physical and mental health as well as social and community cohesion.
The benefits of physical activity for health, wellbeing and individual and social development are well documented and increasingly recognised by policy makers and funding bodies across different sectors including government, health and housing. With a specific focus on the social, economic and wellbeing benefits of participating in sport and physical activity and priority groups rather than the general population overall, recent strategies for sport from the government and Sport England highlight the potential value of working with non-traditional partners, such as housing providers, to achieve this ambition to tackle inactivity.
The sport sector is beginning to recognise the role housing providers can play as delivery partners. Over the past few years, sports organisations have approached HACT to help them better understand why housing providers could pay a key role in this and how to go about engaging with them better. Housing providers have a range of unique characteristics as asset and neighbourhood based social enterprises working closely with groups identified as a priority for engagement, particularly families, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and older and vulnerable people who tend to be less active, on a day to day basis.
Housing providers are also able to target interventions, building new, and strengthening existing, relationships and partnerships with local government, the health sector as well as local community, voluntary and public-sector organisations. Housing providers are well placed to deliver efficient and effective services, and to support the sport sector to meet the government’s ambition to tackle inactivity.
At the same time, the social housing sector recognises the potential of sport and physical activity interventions to achieve their own strategic objectives. These include the development of residents and communities, improving health and wellbeing, and addressing business critical costs. Key outcomes for sport and physical activity interventions currently delivered in the housing sector include:
- Improve health and wellbeing of residents
- Reduce social isolation
- Improve health and wellbeing of communities
- Provide opportunities for developing skills, training, volunteering and routes to employment
- Reduce anti-social behaviour
- Community development
- Specific housing-related outcomes including tenancy sustainment and reduced housing management costs
Pressure to maximise resources to achieve more with less, ensure value for money and create alternative and innovative ways of working to deliver efficient and effective services is growing across both the housing and sport sectors. With shared common outcomes of interest, there is a great opportunity for the housing and sport sectors to consider new and innovative ways of working collaboratively to deliver sport and physical activity interventions effectively and efficiently to those individuals and communities who will receive the most benefit.
Using our networks, knowledge and expertise, HACT is supporting social housing providers and sport organisations to broker, build and extend existing partnerships with local and national organisations. HACT is also supporting social housing providers to generate valuable insights and evidence about the impact of their sport and physical activity programmes, through evaluations incorporating quantitative and qualitative methods and social impact measurement.
HACT is hosting a housing and sport roundtable on 18 July 2018 to bring together people from the housing and sport sectors to share their experiences around delivering sport and physical activity interventions in the housing sector. They will share what has worked well and the insights they’ve gained from these types of activity. This will provide an opportunity for attendees to discover what other housing providers and sport organisations are doing in this space, and how we may be able to collaborate better going forward.