Evidence Sessions

On this page you will find information about the evidence sessions which took place in the first phase of the Commission’s work.

You can also find more information about the evidence sessions within the Terms of Reference.

First evidence session – Transport and Urban Planning, 20th November 2013

Second evidence session – Health, 15th January 2014

Third evidence session – Education, 29th January 2014

Fourth evidence session – Sport, 11th February 2014

Concluding evidence session – 24th February 2014

The Commission would like to thank all those who attended the sessions and gave evidence which has been critical to informing the report recommendations.

Health

15 January 2014 saw a group of expert witnesses give evidence on the health benefits of physical activity and health consequences of physical inactivity, chaired by Barbara Keeley MP. The witnesses were: Dr William Bird MBE of Intelligent Health, Elaine McNish from Macmillan Cancer Support, Murray Dadswell from Flames – an initiative run by Loughborough University and the BHF – Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Hearth Foundation, Dr Charlie Foster, Councillors from the Local Government Association Tourism & Sport Board and Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England.

The witness panel were in agreement that physical activity has a significant, proven impact on both prevention of and recuperation from medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and some cancers, but that action must be taken to communicate this to the physically inactive. Discussion also centred on how healthcare groups and Government can promote types of physical activity that are not necessarily focused on sport. The importance of educating people from all backgrounds and communities on ways which they can move more, whatever their circumstances or current state of health was also highlighted.

The group concluded that with budget restrictions affecting many health groups and local authorities, the key is for different groups (be they involved in health, education, sport local government and beyond) to find ways of doing more with existing resources and making them more accessible.

Transport

On 30 October 2013 the Parliamentary Commission on Physical Activity heard evidence from a diverse group of witnesses on the subject on Transport and Urban Planning. The panel of Cross-Party MPs and Peers, chaired by Julian Huppert MP, heard views from charities and campaign groups Sustrans, Playing Out and Living Streets, academics Professor Sir Andy Haines and Professor Roger Mackett, Liverpool Active City and pupils and staff from Sunnydale Community College.

Issues discussed included ways to incorporate activity into children’s daily routines to enable them to reach the recommended target of 60 minutes of physical activity per day, along with some of the funding, facilities and infrastructure improvements needed to achieve this goal. Witnesses shared their experiences of existing schemes, helping the panel to understand what models and programmes currently exist, with analysis of what is working and what is not.

It was clear from the evidence shared that at the heart of improving levels of physical activity through transport and urban planning is grassroots engagement with children, parents and communities to create safe environments which enable people to get active.

Education

The Education session of the All Party Commission took place on 29th January 2014, with evidence given by: Margaret Talbot of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education; Anna Cain and Jordan Clarke from the Boxing Academy; Charlie Dark, founder of Run Dem Crew; Brian Dickens, Director of the Community Action Zone at Lilian Baylis Old School; David Bond at Project Wild Thing; Sarah Blackwell representing Forest Schools; Derek Peaple, headmaster of Park House School; and athlete and parent Paula Radcliffe MBE.

The session showcased some fantastic projects around the UK that are engaging young people both in and outside of regular education, and demonstrated how physical activity can help achieve better educational and developmental outcomes in a range of areas. These benefits include giving participants more confidence, the possibility to interact with other young people and adults to develop social skills, better concentration and energy in the classroom, and setting them up for long, healthy lives.

A strong emphasis was placed on the need for the curriculum to re-prioritise physical education in order to help children integrate different activities into their daily lives, as well as experience both competitive and non-competitive environments.

Sport

On 11th February the All-Party Commission on Physical Activity held its fourth oral evidence session on the topic of Sport, chaired by The Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE, DL. The witnesses came from a broad spectrum of the industry: Catherine Prisk of Play England; Mandy Ayres from Nike and in her capacity as Chair of Public Affairs Group at the Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry; Emma Boggis, Head of the Olympic and Paralympic Legacy Unit at the Cabinet Office, and Mike Diaper of Sport England; Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation and English Federation of Disability Sport represented by Tim Woodhouse and Chris Ratcliffe; Tom Gibbins at the Tennis Foundation, and academic Professor Richard Bailey of Liverpool John Moores University also in attendance.

Echoing comments from previous sessions, there was an emphasis on the need for sporting activities to be engaging and fun for people of all ages, and to give young people in particular access to a wide range of different sport options. This in turn would help them find an activity they enjoy and to motivate them towards long-term participation. The Olympic Legacy was a strong theme, with witnesses analysing how we can capitalise on the success of the Games and other sporting events in order to get people in the UK to be more active. Witnesses also highlighted the need to make people more positive about playing sports as much as spectating, and the importance of supporting professionals.

A range of critical partners were referenced, including all relevant Government Departments, UKTI, schools and teachers, and sports National Governing Bodies – there was also discussion of the critical role of mothers in integrating physical activity into family life.

Concluding session

On 24 February the Commission held its final oral evidence session, hearing evidence from Andy Reed of the Sport and Recreation Alliance; Liam Burns from the Scout Association; Jane Montgomery, the Federation of Sport and Play Associations; Anna Scott-Marshall from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); and Martin Corck, Director of Inspired Exchange.

An area of focus of the session was the new role models needed to inspire people of all ages to do more physical activity, to complement the profiling of elite athletes, and to break down any barriers of participation.

The role of the workplace in increasing physical activity was also discussed, both how employees can be more active during the working day and how their employers can facilitate this, but also in allowing employees time to volunteer in roles promoting physical activity such as with youth groups and sports team.

Finally, the issue of green spaces was raised by a number of witnesses, addressing the need for more outdoor spaces and ways in which they can be made available.

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