Sport England and 4GLOBAL have partnered to monitor and evidence the sector’s performance, sustainability and social value across public leisure facilities in England. Moving Communities provides a real-time view of local authority facility performance that explores how effective the service is and for whom and its impact on local communities.

Moving Communities is driven by the largest data set ever gathered in the local leisure sector and was initially launched in March 2021, with the contract now being extended for up to another four years. The purpose of the contract is to provide up-to-date and meaningful data and insight to inform decisions that will help to get communities moving

Led by 4GLOBAL and supported by Right Directions, Leisure-net and Sheffield Hallam University, Moving Communities will help local authorities, leisure providers and policymakers to support the recovery of public gyms and leisure centres from the Covid-19 pandemic by understanding their performance and how this compares with national, operational and nearest neighbour benchmarks.

Moving Communities can also show which audiences are using local leisure facilities following the reopening and highlight any audiences that are at risk of not returning. The insight and data will support strategic decisions to be made about where time, effort and money are best invested to benefit local communities and the audiences that need the most help. It is currently measuring the impact of the £100 million provided by the Exchequer via Sport England’s National Leisure Recovery Fund and is informing future investment decisions that are made locally and nationally to help strengthen communities and improve our nation’s health and wellbeing.

It also represents an evolution of the Moving Communities report produced annually by the ukactive Research Institute since 2017, building on ukactive’s work with its public leisure operator members. ukactive will continue to play an important role in supporting the research by engaging members to ensure comprehensive data supports the growth of the sector.

4GLOBAL is responsible for managing the contract for the Moving Communities service, utilising data and insight drive sector engagement and improvement. Moving Communities will also incorporate the delivery of Quest, Sport England’s recommended Continuous Improvement Service for public leisure, which has been delivered for over 11 years by Right Directions.

Moving Communities will continue to develop and evolve over the four-year contract period, working with industry partners bodies including ukactive, the Local Government Association and Community Leisure UK to support the long-term sustainability of the sector.

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive Officer of Sport England commented: “Pre-pandemic, the nation’s levels of sport and activity were starting to hit record levels. Covid-19 set this progress back and our research shows that some groups are still struggling to return to their pre-pandemic activity habits.

“As we look towards recovery from the past two years – and with a heightened national awareness about good health – we want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to get active. Leisure centres are popular environments with some of the groups in society that experience some of the lowest activity levels. Data from the Moving Communities tool is essential for helping us understand who’s returning to activity and who’s not; we can then use this knowledge and insight to support communities all over the country to get back to their local leisure centre.”

Eloy Mazon, Chief Executive Officer of 4GLOBAL commented: “Local leisure plays a vital role in the health and wellbeing of local communities, and it is an essential public provision for many parts of the community.  This contract plays a pivotal role in encouraging Local Authorities and the public leisure sector to prioritise active wellbeing as part of local Covid recovery efforts. Most significantly, this contract will use high quality data and insight to identify and address health inequalities in communities that would benefit the most from targeted investment.”

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