A significant conference was held in Cardiff, focusing on the developments of the Well-being of Future Generations Act and how the Welsh Government and key stakeholders can work together to increase physical activity across the country.
Hosted at the Hilton Cardiff by WHY Sports Media Group in association with ICON Training, the conference (on 15th February) featured inspiring speeches from UKActive Chairman, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM.
The conference examined the progress that has already been made whilst also asking pertinent questions as to how stakeholders and delegates can work together to deliver the aspirations of the Act and for the future generations.
The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act provides the encouragement, permission and obligation to make the changes needed and drastically improve the economic, physical and mental wellbeing of current and future generations through the creation of a healthier, more prosperous, more cohesive and more resilient society.
In response to this, the conference focused on exploring key areas for action which will tackle the causes and consequences of the likely impacts on future generations’ health and wellbeing. It also ensured that all delegates and stakeholders involved have access to the required knowledge, insight and evidence-based solutions to both create and deliver upon the broad ranging ambitions set out in the Act.
At the conference, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, Ken Skates AM discussed how changes in society have resulted in people becoming less active, in part this was attributed to fewer people working manual jobs and individuals feeling they do not have support to get fit or up to date facilities to do so.
He said: “Technology dominates at home and in the work place, the two places we spend most of our time. The desire for convenience and speed often trumps opportunities of physical activity.
“We are the first generation that needs to make a conscious choice to be physically active. Conversely, we have a better understanding of the importance of physical activity to our wellbeing and our prosperity.”
During his speech, Ken Skates AM stated that in Wales £35million is spent every year on diseases that are caused by lack of physical activity, such as chronic heart disease, strokes, obesity and mental illness.
In response to this, he detailed a few programmes that are being put in place to help promote physical activity. This included the Active Travel Act, which is a framework to improve opportunities for individuals to make everyday journeys by foot or by bike by creating more high-quality walking and cycling routes to connect people to where they need to go.
Another is an NHS programme, Healthy Working Wales, which supports employers, individuals and a range of health professionals to help working age people in Wales stay fit and healthy so they can remain in employment or return to work following a period of ill health.
Lastly, Ken Skates AM discussed the Welsh Government policy, Prosperity for All: economic action plan, which is a plan that seeks to grow the economy inclusively, spread opportunity and promote well-being.
He said: “It will be a simple transparent form of support that will see a contract between the government and businesses established based on four points, including fair work, and the promotion of health; in particular, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
“We will be offering, for the first time as a government, not just the opportunity but the incentive for businesses to promote to the workforce to being more physically active. This could be a game changing policy initiative, especially if we extend it across the £6billion of procurement opportunities available in wales every year.”
Following on the same theme, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, DL, UKActive Chair and Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, also expressed the importance of increased participation in physical activity and sport, explaining how inactivity can lead to a number of health issues, which ultimately fall on the NHS and result in more costs.
Baroness Grey-Thompson said: “It is essential to champion the fun, enjoyment and benefits of being active. There are lots of challenges around, but I have great sense of optimism. We need to get people more active, more often and at UK Active that is our raison d’être, it’s the simple things that underpin everything we do and the common purpose that unites us and our members.
“I spend a lot of my time now in Westminster trying to navigate the storm but unfortunately it is a message that most politicians in Westminster are regrettably struggling to understand.
“Two years ago, the Government launched Sporting Future, a UK wide strategy for sport and physical activity, and it promised cross-departmental working, but an honest appraisal of its progress shows that for far too long, sport and physical activity have been left in a box for the department of digital media, culture and sport to deal with, whereas it should be on the desk of every politician, civil servant, big supplier, and every single person in Westminster.”
Following from this, Tanni talked about Free Summer Camps set up by UKActive and UK Government. The initiative follows a two-year campaign from UKActive to make unhealthy school holidays a top-tier issue for Government and schools. The organisation will work with up to 50 schools this year to pilot a new initiative that targets not only physical inactivity in the summer holidays, but also addresses major concerns over ‘holiday hunger’, learning loss, personal development and mental health in young people.
In addition to speeches by Ken Skates AM and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, there were speeches by Mind Cymru Director, Sara Mosely who discussed Mind Cymru’s approach to sport and physical activity, detailing the programme in England and how that can be applied to Wales, Youth Charter executive chair, Geoff Thompson discussed how the sport and physical activity presents many challenges and opportunities in the social, cultural and economic well-being of young people and communities, and managing director of Icon Training, Gary Denton also discussed the need to train more people in leisure and activity to help delivered against the WBFG Act ambitions.
There was also a panel debate with a lively discussion encompassing views of Public Health, Sport Wales and Academia and a surprise appearance from former British sprint athlete and Olympic Gold medallist, Darren Campbell MBE.
WHY Sports Media Group is a social enterprise dedicated to assisting the wide range of organisations challenged with creating an active nation. The group seeks to ensure greater participation in UK sports from all areas of society regardless of gender, age, faith, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, economic position, disability or level of ability.
Through a series of strategic conferences and accompanying digital and social engagement strategies, WSMG will provide a platform to drive greater collaboration across the leading governing bodies and their delivery agents for UK sport.
ICON Training is a company that helps learners gain new skills and knowledge, improving work-based performance and employer objectives. Established in 1995, the company has a proven track record as a high quality and visionary training provider and was named Training Provider of the Year for two years running at the Active Training Awards.