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The report argues that public health initiatives must raise awareness of social prescribing in gyms, pools and leisure centres
The report argues that public health initiatives must raise awareness of social prescribing in gyms, pools and leisure centres

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London Sport response to ukactive report on social prescribing within the fitness and leisure sector

A new ukactive report, Leading the Change: Social prescribing within the fitness and leisure sector, calls for the Government to unlock the potential of fitness and leisure facilities to serve more people through social prescribing.

The report, sponsored by Matrix, argues that public health initiatives must help raise awareness of social prescribing in gyms, pools and leisure centres in order to reduce the pressure on the NHS.

Social prescribing connects people to community support based on what interests them and helps address issues affecting their health and wellbeing.

Working alongside GPs, social prescribing link workers connect people to a range of services and activities including fitness groups, swimming or walking, depending on what the person likes and what will benefit them.

The recommendations include:

  • Raise awareness of the role of gyms, pools and leisure centres in social prescribing.
  • Increase the knowledge of social prescribing among the physical activity workforce.
  • Connect more gyms, pools and leisure facilities to community networks.
  • Align the sector-wide measurement of social prescribing to NHS England’s Common Outcomes Framework.

London Sport’s Regional Physical Activity Adviser (London), Rob McLean, said:

“We welcome this report from ukactive and its focus on active lifestyles as a key contributor to the health of Londoners across our capital.

“Physical activity and sport play a vital role in community healthcare but the report, rightly, identifies an even greater opportunity for the sector to contribute through social prescribing.

“Voluntary and community groups have traditionally played a predominant role within social prescribing but the fitness and leisure sector, undoubtedly, has a key role to play.

Our work to date has already found an appetite amongst referral services, activity providers and tech companies for using open data to prescribe physical activity to inactive adults.

“We look forward to further exploring work in this area, both as part of the LDN Moving strategy and through our involvement in the National Academy for Social Prescribing’s Thriving Communities programme.”

London Sport continues to offer training for staff and volunteers who work in social prescribing programmes to help them become more skilled and confident in advocating and supporting their clients into physical activity and sport. Find out more here.

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