Updated: Jul 22
With the Commonwealth Games approaching Sport Birmingham's Dean Hill blogs on how the Sport England CAC fund will help sport and physical activity be more available in the West Midlands.
The Commonwealth Games will take place in Birmingham this summer and they’ll be a golden opportunity to build more active communities and deliver ‘A Games for everyone’.
But we at Active Birmingham, as members of the Commonwealth Active Communities (CAC) Fund, want this to be more than a nice slogan.
But what is the CAC Fund exactly?
The CAC Fund is one of the two funds –the other being the Places and Spaces Fund – that Sport England announced in November 2021 to improve facilities and level up access to community sport across the West Midlands as part of the legacy from the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The investment made by these two funds represents £6.5m to tackle inactivity in local communities and to engage underrepresented groups, like those on lower incomes and disabled people.
So, in short – The CAC Fund is money that will be spent in helping make sport and physical activity available to everybody.
But those working for CAC want to go even further and conduct research to properly understand how the Games will improve the activity levels of the less dynamic communities, their mental health awareness and whether they can increase their levels of walking and cycling.
A series of local delivery pilots (LDPs), and other place-based programmes, have provided us with important learnings to develop and amplify opportunities through the Games legacy and, in particular, through the CAC programme.
Through this scheme we’ve come up with a series of concrete and tangible areas to focus on, in order to reduce levels of inactivity and address inequalities.
At the heart of the CAC fund there are:
Physical spaces and places to be active in – from streets to open spaces, parks and the waterways that connect our communities
Networks and organisations working together to support people to get active and environments where communities own what they want and need
People giving their time to support others
Leaders across communities at all levels working more closely together
Policy and strategy changes to sustain approaches and enable further roll out in the future.
Four of these programmes are happening across the West Midlands Combined Authority area – hosted in Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry and a joint programme for the Black Country – as a partnership between the four local authorities of Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton and Walsall.
Each place has hosted an association of partners from a wide range of organisations and agencies who have come together to address inequalities and reduce inactivity.
The players involved are working to co-produced and agreed principles, and through this work they are committed to:
Working in places with the largest health inequalities and areas of greatest levels of inactivity, where the impact can be the greatest
Ensuring an inclusive and accessible approach in the work it does
Approaching the work in a collaborative style across sectors by co-producing methods and delivery with groups working through an asset-based community development model
Having a strong community engagement and being willing to distribute leadership within the community and create co-ownership
Building approaches based on need, evidence, evaluation and insight
Building trusted partnerships
Bringing partners that have a role to play in local wellbeing, working together to embed a sustainable approach to developing active communities
Joining this work with their local strategic priorities, complementing existing work and opportunities, and bringing forward the chance for joint funding approaches
Responding to the vision and the five key pillars of the Commonwealth Games 2022.
The CAC programme will also create a system-wide approach that will connect to other Games and join up with the other strands of Sport England’s investment, such as our work with national governing bodies.
Together, we will address inequalities in sport and will develop digital solutions to connect with communities, including the Gen 22 legacy project.
This is a scheme dedicated to young people in the West Midlands to gain life skills from Games-related activities, such as the confidence gained from volunteering to help their community get active.
The programmes started developing concepts and having local conversations in late 2021 and are now moving into the implementation phase.
More will be shared as the programmes grow and we’ll capture the learnings from this vital work.
We know these programmes are key to Sport England’s aspirations within Uniting The Movement. But they’re even more important to local communities and their representatives, who see this not as a project or programme, but as the start of a journey and as a catalyst for change for reducing inactivity and addressing inequalities.