New sporting chances for LGBTQ+ community
14th March 2024
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The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) has been working with Pride Sports and the Midland Pride Network to examine both the barriers and the opportunities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning people to take part in organised sport and physical activity.

Key recommendations set out in the Pride Sports report, which was commissioned by the WMCA, include an accreditation scheme for gyms, leisure centres, sports clubs, live events and other sporting locations such as parks and encourage the introduction of practical steps to make facilities and staff across the region more inclusive.

Simon Hall, WMCA’s strategic lead for wellbeing and prevention, the Mayor and Andy Paul from Pride Sports with members of Birmingham Swifts LGBT Runners.

The need for clearer pathways for LGBTQ+ people into leadership roles within sports clubs and regional sporting bodies to give them a stronger voice has also been identified.

The report follows a major consultation which began with an open roundtable event hosted by the WMCA late last summer at the Alexander Stadium – the flagship venue of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

There are already signs of change with Solihull Council, which took part in the consultation, recently putting staff through Pride Sport’s training on LGBTQ+ awareness and inclusive provision.

And more than 40 applications from the LGBTQ+ community have been made to the WMCA’s Commonwealth Games legacy funded Inclusive Communities Fund for community-led schemes that promote physical activity and wellbeing.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, recently met with representatives from LGBTQ+ sports groups from across the region at the LGBTQ+ Centre in Birmingham to discuss the findings.

The Mayor said: “Getting local people more active is a key part of the WMCA’s work to improve the mental and physical health of local people. The West Midlands already has some of the highest levels of inactivity in the country so it’s crucial we address these health inequalities.

“What’s clear from this report is that LGBTQ+ people want a place where they can take part in sport and physical activity and not be judged, where they will be welcomed, a place that meets them at their starting point.

“Thanks to our long-term plan with Sport England we’ve been able to work with Pride Sports and the Midland Pride Network and start putting some of the report’s recommendations into action.

“Our region hosted arguably the most inclusive Commonwealth Games held to date in 2022 and that warm welcome must now be reflected in the future opportunities on offer to anyone who wants to join a sports club or take part in other regular physical activity.”

The WMCA is already working with Sport England on a 10-year plan to use the legacy of the Commonwealth Games as a springboard to make it easier for the region’s least active people to take part in regular exercise and organised sport.

National research shows over half of LGBT men and women, and two thirds of LGBT people who identify as gender fluid or gender queer, are not doing the minimum recommended amount of physical activity.

The Pride Sports report found that none of the 15 to 25-year-olds it interviewed were accessing any organised sports activity and less than half were taking part in other physical activity for more than the recommended 30 minutes a week.

Lou Englefield, director at Pride Sports, said: “It has been a privilege to work with WMCA on this report and to learn more about LGBTQ+ experiences of sport and physical activity regionally. We’re now looking forward to working with the Combined Authority to get more LGBTQ+ people active in the West Midlands.”

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, the WMCA’s portfolio holder for wellbeing, and leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “I welcome this report and its recommendations. We need to continually look at how we can understand and act on the barriers that exist and scale up good practice to help ensure we are making physical activity more inclusive for all our residents.

“The WMCA has an important role to develop awareness and understanding and to convene the work with stakeholders and communities. We will continue to work with our local authorities, Sport England and others to make sure there is a long-lasting inclusive Commonwealth Games legacy.”


About the Author

Ian Henery

Member since: 4th February 2019

Presenter Black Country Radio & Black Country Xtra

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