Agenda item

Strategic Value of Physical Activity in Tackling Health Inequalities

To receive a report from Yorkshire Sport Foundation in respect of a recent review of physical activity.


Consideration was given to a report identifies a direction of travel for the Council and partners across Rotherham (Place). In keeping with Health Select Commission’s commitment to prevention and to tackling Health Inequalities, this review suggested potential work across the Place that feeds into these priorities. This report had been recently presented to the Health and Wellbeing Board and was presented to the Commission for information as well as consultation – effectively to bring Health Select Members into ongoing discussions around physical activity as a key facet of the prevention agenda.


In discussion, Members expressed interest in good practice that had been observed in respect of physical activity initiatives and whether expansion of social prescribing of physical activity might be explored. The response from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health noted that good practice had been collected initially but these efforts were interrupted by the pandemic and would resume. In respect of social prescribing, Voluntary Action Rotherham (VAR) had brought primary care link officers into post before the pandemic, and limited commissioned pathways would be expanded. The prevention pathway being developed would go beyond the Council’s statutory services.


Members expressed interest in how street pride and regeneration and environment could help ensure outdoor environments are safe for physical activity. Further details were also requested around how Make Every Contact Count (MECC) would be leveraged to help promote physical activity. The response from the Cabinet Member indicated that liaison with Regeneration and Environment would be undertaken, and in respect of using primary care appointments to promote physical activity, liaison with Primary Care Networks would be undertaken as well. The Director of Public Health provided more detail about areas that those liaisons would explore and the associated potential responsibilities of partners.


Members requested more information around what could be done to further opportunities for low-cost access for young people to various physical activities that reflect their interests. The Cabinet Member identified examples of externally funded activities that had been popular, but limited, and the desire to expand these into other areas of the Borough. The value of life-long physical activities and focus on early years was noted as well as the range of possibilities. There is continued work to be done with schools and around safe active routes to and from schools.


Members emphasised possible improvements that could improve access to green spaces, including curb cuts, expanded paved footpaths, and incentives for Rothercard holders. The response from the Cabinet Member noted referral pathways into certain services. The Director of Public Health noted the intention to bring in colleagues from Regeneration and Environment to join in future discussions on physical activity.


Members also noted the possibility to magnify small investments by leveraging existing relationships within communities. The response from the Cabinet Member noted a range of links with other directorates such as housing and planning around the expectations on planners to design in green spaces in all plans for large estate developments. The goal of the joint work would be to unite community members who are willing to be the spark for more active communities.


Members requested further assurances that investments would make a difference that would demonstrate value for money. The Director of Public Health noted that getting the right people doing more physical activity is the key – bringing in those who have a health condition or who have not previously been active. If this strategy can help prevent people from developing diabetes or having hypertension, these will make a real difference. The response from the Cabinet Member averred that money put into prevention will reduce the number of people who need to go into acute care.


Members requested more information around the roles within the strategy of leadership and the community link workers in making the strategy work for communities. The response from the Cabinet Member and the Director of Public Health identified the senior leadership already in place and the joint funded posts that are being proposed include a Rotherham focused post to help ignite people within communities.




1.    That the report be noted and the next update presented in September 2022.


2.    That Primary Care Networks (PCNs) be involved in strengthening social prescribing around physical activity.


3.    That examples of good practice in respect of promoting access to opportunities for physical activity be collected and considered as part of the next phase of the physical activity project in Rotherham.


4.    That Public Health officers liaise with colleagues in Regeneration and Environment as regards optimising safety and accessibility of green spaces and other infrastructure for physical activity.


5.    That potential links with communities be examined with a view to strengthening relationships and maximising small investments for greater access and engagement using existing channels.








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