Edition number 40; dateline 1 July 2010

Leisure opportunity in Lower Basildon
The Inland Waterways Association’s annual boating jamboree is set to take place at the Beale Park estate in Lower Basildon on the River Thames over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 28 to 30 August. The address will interest all former ILAM members as the leisure professionals’ institute was based only yards further up river. Any nostalgic trip to tie in with the Beale Park Festival would afford former ‘parkies’ and their families the chance to enjoy water-zorbing, a Newfoundland dog rescue team, demonstrations, exhibitions, trade stalls and over 450 visiting boats of all shapes and sizes. The Leisure Review’s managing editor, Mick Owen MILAM, said: “You should go. The festival is always great fun whether you like boats or not and there’ll be great food outlets and a beer tent.”

Leading Learning programme in need of support

The National Culture Forum Leading Learning programme, the first leadership programme devised and delivered specifically for senior managers within the culture sector, is under threat following a slow take up of places on this year's course. Martyn Allison, national culture adviser at the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and the mainstay of the sector's improvement imperative, confirmed that there were concerns. "The programme has served the culture sector brilliantly in the past couple of years but there is a real danger that this year's programme will not run," he said. "This would be a real blow to the future of the sector. Whatever uncertainties we may be experiencing at present, high-quality leadership will be an essential element of how the culture and sport sector responds and the Leading Learning programme represents a positive and cost-effective investment in the sector's future. I would be very sad to see the programme dropped."
The Leisure Review is pleased to be able to make full details of the NCF Leading Learning programme, including programme outline, application procedures and contact details, available here.

Proactive and innovative answer to swimming cuts, says STA
With the government’s free swimming initiative among the very first cuts identified by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), The Leisure Review sought the thoughts of a number of organisations engaged in the facility management sector. First out of the traps was the Swimming Teachers’ Association. Roger Millward, STA chief executive offered the following comment: “As the DCMS report into free swimming states, ‘a great majority of free swimmers were swimming already’, therefore the bigger question now is how local authorities are going to manage their leisure services in the current financial climate and deliver value-for-money swimming programmes. Faced with heavy funding cuts – which many have been reliant upon in relation to swimming in past years – and now David Cameron and Nick Clegg calling upon public sector staff to help find ‘fair and responsible’ cuts, it’s time to be proactive on a local level to ensure swimming remains a key priority. All the reasons why the free swimming initiative was introduced in the first place still remain: swimming is a fun activity and promotes a healthy and safer lifestyle for people of all ages. By thinking innovatively and applying simple business logic, leisure managers can achieve best value in terms of cost, and still maintain the quality of the swimming programmes they deliver. Furthermore, in these challenging times they have a duty and responsibility to the tax payer to ‘procure’ services, including swimming programmes, as competitively as they can.” Mr Millward pointed to the STA’s work with numerous local authorities and leisure trusts that had reduced the costs of training swimming teachers. “We have proven that if resources and costs are deployed to best effect, everyone can win,” he said.

Sport England cosy up to the third sector
Volunteering England has received funding from Sport England to give targeted support to nine volunteer centres who will act as ‘sporting champions’ within their regions. The funding is supposed to “help them develop their ‘offer’ to sport locally so as to increase the number of opportunities to volunteer in sport, and to increase the diversity of those individuals doing so”. There are over 270 volunteer centres on England’s high streets and they all work locally to provide support and expertise within the local community to potential volunteers, existing volunteers and organisations that involve volunteers. The sporting champions will be using their expertise to strengthen the sports clubs in their areas and help them to attract, retain and develop volunteers.

Bozza launches legacy wheeze

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has announced a £340,000 initiative to “inspire Londoners of all ages and abilities to get off the sofa and get active”. The cash will go to around 120 projects across the capital this summer and next year as part of Playsport London: FreeSport. Throughout July, August and September, Londoners will have the opportunity to try out a variety of different sports and other physical pursuits with mainline sports being supplemented with “trampolining, basketball and martial arts, volleyball, boxing and dance”. Specfic activities will be targeted at young families, disabled and older Londoners.

NGBs face 2012 readiness quiz
Sports coach UK has asked governing bodies of sport (NGB) to propose how they will prepare their coaching workforce to meet rapid increases in sport participation following the 2012 Olympics. This call to action was made in light of research from a team at Canterbury Christ Church University into the possible legacy benefits from the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. The research said that said “the Games could inspire people to return to sport or increase the frequency of participation of those who already play sport” and they “could encourage informal social and community-related physical activity”.  The document Beyond 2012: A Coaching Legacy for England highlights the need for sports to plan ahead for the possible effects of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to ensure their coach workforce is able to cope with any surges in demand.

Anyone for parks tennis?
Sport England chose the wrong Wimbledon to trumpet their British Tennis’ Places to Play project which has been “refurbishing and opening facilities in parks and communities” so that people can “stay involved” in (note not “learn to play”) a game dogged by accusations of social if not performance elitism. No English man in the singles championship, all the woman out after the first round and only Andy Murray – who developed his game in Spain – putting any gloss on a woeful performance by the sport’s well-financed development departments. Many commentators have berated the tennis governing bodies’ inability to involve people beyond their middle-England heartlands but as an antidote the Sport England initiative flatters to deceive with all the money going into what chair Richard Lewis calls “facilities that meet the highest standards, are welcoming, and cater for everyone” and include Gosling International High Performance Centre and Nuneaton Lawn Tennis Club. Whether the Williams sisters – the poster girls for public courts – would have got over either of those thresholds remains moot.

Lost in sport
Paralympic double gold medallist Ellie Simmonds is backing a search to find retired Paralympians in Wales and encourage them to sign up to the Paralympians’ Club, a new website designed to reunite former GB team-mates and engage the public with British Paralympians. Rather shamefacedly, Paralympics GB chief executive Phil Lane explained: “After retiring from sport many Paralympians return to leading everyday lives in their communities and in the past the British Paralympic Association has not kept in contact with Paralympic athletes in any systematic way. We suspect there could be as many as 1,700 Paralympians out there who we are not in contact with.”

Pass me the paint brush, Jennie
Sport England’s latest initiative – A Day for Sport, which will take place on 15th July 2010 – is aimed at “getting more Sport England employees directly helping people play and enjoy sport”. As if that was not hostage to fortune enough, the detail suggests that if clubs “can think of any tasks around your club that you’ve been meaning to get around to” they can whistle up a Sport England policy wonk to do it for them. Apparently “the day will see a number of people exchange the office for the ‘frontline’, volunteering at various locations across the country to support a range of sporting activities, from assisting coaches in delivering sport to maintaining facilities (whether that’s helping paint the clubhouse, mowing the pitch, or sweeping the courts!)”.

Safeguarding scheme stymied
For good or ill new home secretary Theresa May, formerly famous for her footwear, has pulled the plug on the controversial vetting and barring scheme (VBS) which was designed to safeguard young people in sport and in society at large. The VBS has been halted “to allow the government to remodel the scheme back to proportionate, common sense levels” and voluntary registration of  new employees and job-movers working or volunteering with children and vulnerable adults will not now start on 26 July as planned.

Volunteering research highlights challenges
A survey of more than 800 volunteer managers has found that the greatest challenge they face is the recruitment of volunteers with “not having enough time or money to achieve goals”; “matching and retaining volunteers” comes next on their list of issues. Dr Carolyn Cordery of Victoria University New Zealand (we did say it was in New Zealand, didn’t we?) explained that “despite these challenges, which are by no means minor, 90% of respondents reported satisfaction with their volunteer management role, whether paid or unpaid”. But she added a warning: “However, the time commitment is huge”. The research, which was carried out in partnership with Volunteering New Zealand, also noted the “huge variety of job titles that those managing volunteers have”. Dr Cordery commented: “Organisations would do well to define carefully the jobs and titles of their managers of volunteers, to ensure the time this important job requires is acknowledged and allocated.”

Some ruff numbers
Danish marketeer Svend Elkjaer is beating the drum for dogs and suggesting dog-related events “can help you raise your profile, generate income, involve the community and get more people more active”. According to the director of the Sports Marketing Network, a man with an idiosyncratic approach to selling sport and leisure, “For many people the main exercise they get is walking their dog so therefore it is not surprising that we are seeing some great initiatives using our relationship with our furry friends.” He cites a number of dog-related events including the Great North Dog Walk where “on Sunday 13 June in South Shields, Newcastle 18,113 dogs (of 178 breeds) and their owners enjoyed the 3.5 mile (5.6km) walk which follows a coastal route along the cliffs with magnificent sea views. There were four different routes of varying lengths to cater for everyone within the community and over varying surfaces like grass, gravel and concrete. This therefore allowed for baby buggies, wheelchairs, the young, the elderly, disabled and also older dogs to support this world record attempt.”

Sport NI go big outdoors
Outdoor enthusiasts and elite athletes alike have been celebrating the re-opening of Sport Northern Ireland’s Tollymore National Outdoor Centre on the edge of the Mourne mountains. The £5 million rebuild of the facility has created a building that is visually stunning and ecologically sound. Cynics might ask why an outdoor centre would need a “heated indoor roll pool for teaching kayak rolling skills” but doubtless the new gym and climbing training wall, as well as the existing Hotrock climbing wall and the 20 twin en-suite bedrooms, will deter cavilling.

Safeguarding advice on offer
The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) has issued two new briefing papers for clubs and other sporting organisations. They are available in the resources section of their website www.thecpsu.org.uk . The papers address the issues of what information about an individual can be shared by one sports body with another, and that of grooming and entrapment. Grooming is the process by which an individual manipulates those around them – particularly, but not exclusively, the child – to provide opportunities to abuse and reduce the likelihood of being discovered. According to the CPSU, “Whilst this is not a common occurrence, it is something that should be recognised does happen. By understanding the behaviour of sexual offenders we can place obstacles in their way in order to interrupt this cycle.”

On yer bike, Jimmy
A £3.9 million plan to boost cycling numbers in Scotland has been unveiled by transport minister Stewart Stevenson. The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland sets out how the Holyrood government will ensure that by 2020 "10% of all journeys will be made by bike". The plan involves expanding cycle routes across the country and enhancing delivery of cycle training in schools. The minister is said to have said of the plan: "Scotland has the toughest climate change legislation anywhere in the world and as our climate change delivery plan made clear we need to decarbonise almost all road transport by 2050.  This means persuading more motorists to get out of their cars and getting more people to cycle."


Other news just in (by the skin of its teeth)
Boris Johnson has announced that he is increasing the London Living Wage to £7.85 per hour, a rise of 25p. As part of the review of Defra’s arms-length bodies, the Commission for Rural Communities will be abolished, with a strengthened Rural Communities Policy Unit within Defra. Flintshire County Council has appointed Alliance Leisure to handle the Council’s redevelopment for its leisure portfolio over the next four years. The National Gallery in London will be holding an exhibition of Bridget Riley’s work in November; two of Riley’s works will be made directly onto the walls of the exhibition space. In October the National will be opening a major Canaletto exhibition, sure to be a big draw among the arterarti. Elite athlete Kiplimo Kimutai beat Redcar half marathon record with a time of 62.07; almost 1,400 runners crossed the finish line after him. Beijing Olympic Taekwondo stars, Sarah Stevenson and Aaron Cook have been propelled to the top of the WTF world rankings in their respective weight categories. Lifetime has launched a new online leadership and management programme for individuals wanting to move into a management role within a leisure centre or health club environment.


London 2012: there’s only 750-odd days to go
Boris Johnson has put the weight  of his office behind ‘Playsport London: FreeSport’, a “multi-million push designed to inspire Londoners of all ages and abilities to get off the sofa and get active”. The first of 4,000 new semi-mature trees and 300,000 wetland plants are taking root in the Olympic Park. Film Nation: Shorts, a short film competition for 13-25-years-olds, has opened for submissions. London 2012 has announced that over 5 million children and young people from around the world are benefiting from International Inspiration, the London 2012 Games international legacy programme. Construction is now underway on the Eton Manor site, meaning that work has started on all Olympic Park permanent venues. Ulster Weavers Home Fashions Ltd, based in Holywood, County Down, is to produce official London 2012 kitchen textiles. The concrete structure of the London 2012 press centre is complete. The Mayor of London has visited Cape Town to learn lessons from his South African hosts on how to run a major international sporting event. There are now over 13,000 schools and colleges registered with Get Set, the official London 2012 education programme, from across the UK. Nearly two million tonnes of contaminated soil has now been cleaned for reuse on the Olympic Park, the UK’s largest ever soil-washing operation. Following an extensive process of research and industry engagement, there will not be a wind turbine on the Olympic Park site. The Ricoh Arena, the home of Coventry City Football Club, has been selected as the new Midlands venue to host Olympic Football matches in 2012; the venue will be temporarily re-named the City of Coventry Stadium during the Games and all other branding will be removed at Games time.

Who’s whom can now be found on the People Page.

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WHAT? NO WENLOCK? LOCOG has unveiled its team for the opening and closing ceremonies at London 2012. The line-up reads: Stephen Daldry, Oscar-winning film and theatre director, as ‘executive producer, creative’; Mark Fisher, concert, theatre and Beijing 2008 Games designer, as ‘executive producer, design’; Hamish Hamilton, Grammy and BAFTA award-nominated TV director, as ‘executive producer, broadcast’; and Catherine Ugwu, producer for the 15th Asian Games in Doha in 2006 and the XVII Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002, as ‘executive producer, production’. Lord Coe, LOCOG chair, commented: "These Games are bringing together world-class British talent. Each one of these individuals would hold their own on the worldwide stage and they are joining names like children’s author Michael Morpurgo who has created the story behind our highly successful mascots." Danny Boyle was equally excited: "It’s a completely unique opportunity to contribute to what I’m sure are going to be a fantastic Games, I’m really excited to be involved."

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