Our physical activity vision is: for Leeds to be a place where everyone moves more every day.
Currently in Leeds:
- 31% of children and young people are inactive (My Health, My School 2021/22).
- 23% of all adults are inactive (Sport England Active Lives data 2020/21).
- 36% of older adults (aged 65 and over) are inactive (Sport England Active Lives data 2020/21).
We also know there are significant differences in levels of physical activity across the city, with inactivity levels in some poorer communities more than double those of more affluent communities. And the gap is widening!
In a city where everyone moves more, we will improve health and wellbeing, contribute to reducing carbon emissions, and support inclusive growth. This is why prioritising improving physical activity across the city matters.
People face challenges every day that prevent them from being active. The environments in which they live do not make it easy enough for them to be active. People have told us there are not enough spaces for them to be active in, that need to feel safe in spaces for them to be active in them, they need better access to transport and child-care, good quality and better information. People also told us that whilst they want to be active, they have to prioritise their basic needs first (e.g. access to quality housing, employment, food, education and technology).
This is why we need all partners to work together to help achieve our physical activity ambition. Partners working together, and with local people, to improve social, economic and environmental conditions, that will make it easier for people to be more active.
We have started working towards achieving our ambition through various projects, including:
Young Minds Get Active
This project aims to encourage young people to be more active as a way of protecting and improving their mental wellbeing.
The voices of children and young people are essential in delivering this project and have been engaged from the start. We are also encouraging young people to get creative and record videos of themselves talking about what they like best about being active, which will use to encourage other young people to be more active.
Through this project we aim for:
- Young people to be more aware of the benefits of physical activity for mental wellbeing – and feel motivated to act on this.
- Better promote physical activity options for young people.
- People who work in physical activity to better enabled to support young people to manage their mental wellbeing.
- Physical activity opportunities to be inclusive, with consideration for the impact of weight stigma, promoting culturally sensitive offers, taking a trauma-informed approach, and (if appropriate), using anxiety management/mindfulness approaches to enable participation.
- Physical activity to be incorporated into the therapeutic offer for children and young people experiencing mental health issues or who are seeking support for social, emotional and mental health needs.
We aim to improve and protect children’s opportunities for play. We are the first city in England to do a Play Sufficiency Assessment, where we have listened to children and young people in Leeds abut the time, space and permissions they feel they get to play. We continue with our assessment and in due course will be using the findings to agree an action plan.
Inactivity levels have risen over the past couple of years for people aged 65 and above, with a noted decrease in the amount of strength and balance activity. This is resulting in an increase in people having falls.
We are developing a communications campaign which will focus on the benefits of strength-based activities for people aged 40 and above, for those living with frailty, and for those with a long-term condition.
We have chosen to target people as young as 40 because the latest scientific evidence shows that muscular degeneration starts at an earlier age than previously thought. This can be prevented through strength-based exercises. They also reduce risks of falls and frailty in older age.
Further, following engagement with local people, we have reviewed the offer and experiences for older people across leisure centres, developing more sessions tailored to their needs. We have also implemented a network of age friendly ambassadors across Active Leeds leisure centres.
Get Set Leeds Local
This project is currently being delivered in Seacroft, New Wortley and Beeston and Holbeck. We have developed co-production networks and are implementing an ABCD asset-based approach.
This work has delivered a number of community-based ideas and projects, based on the needs of the local areas in which they are based, including:
- Recovery Runners – supporting residents through addiction with running and walking.
- Leeds Valkyries – a ladies community basketball project in Beeston.
- Parkroll – a roller skating project for residents in and around Cross Flatts.
- Community Cycling Hubs – teaching residents how to ride bikes safely for leisure and travel, as well as teaching skills around bike maintenance.
- Active Through Football – this project has employed a local workforce of football coaches and activators with over 200 residents active per week.
- Together for Sport – addressing the barrier of expensive kit, this project connects unused sportswear and shoes with residents who can’t afford to buy them.
- Action for Sport – connecting community organisations with access to sports kit.
With funding from the Department for Transport this innovative social prescribing project in Burmantofts, Harehills and Richmond Hill aims to increase physical activity levels by prescribing walking and cycling.
Currently in development, this project will be centred around seven interventions:
- Communication – conversations, access to trusted information, Walk It Ride It campaign and assets
- Physical and Social Environment – to create safe, clean and traffic free spaces
- Urban trails – co-design, use of way marking, route planning, access to toilets and places to rest
- First steps to walking – community chest pot to strengthen the role of our community partners in providing walking/cycling activities, access to kit, buddy programme
- Learn to ride – community activation, continuing our work with providers, a family approach
- Bike libraries/hubs – accessing existing resources, for example, Inner East cycle hubs
- Bike loan – establishing accessible, affordable options for active travel to employment and skills opportunities
Through delivery this project will also consider ways of scaling up the approach across the rest of Leeds.
How did we involve people?
Local people are at the heart of the ambition and have been involved from the start. Over the last few years, we have been running the Get Set Leeds campaign, aimed at having a conversation with local people about what we can all do to make Leeds a city where everyone moves more every day. A summary of the findings is available in the video below.