WEST MIDLANDS mayor Andy Street has kicked off a scheme to encourage participation in sports, as a Sports England survey shows West Midlanders are some of the nation’s laziest people.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), chaired by the mayor, has put together an ‘ambitious’ set of exercise programmes, to encourage residents to look after their health.
Sport England’s latest Active Lives survey revealed people in the West Midlands participate in activity less than those from any other part of the country.
Coventry and Black Country residents are some of the least active in the Midlands, with 57 per cent of Coventrians taking part in at least 150 minutes of activity a week, and just over half of Sandwell taking exercise regularly.
Warwick is the region’s most active town, as 71 per cent take part in sports. Silhillians also find time for exercise, with an active population of 61 per cent.
The authority’s West Midlands on the Move Strategic Framework will support schemes like Goodgym, where runners get together to help their communities.
Goodgyms in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull have attracted 450 volunteers since the first was rolled out in January 2017, completing more than 2,000 community deeds, with a fourth being launched in Warwick and Leamington Spa this week.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “Improving the wellbeing of our population by encouraging people to be more active in everyday life is a key priority for us.
“We are hard at work with Sport England and other partners to target the inequalities that exist which are barriers to physical activity and participation.
“Through our wellbeing board, we have designed a number of programmes to generate improvements, along with our active travel and cycling and walking plans.”
Sean Russell, WMCA director of wellbeing, said: “Other projects are being developed in Sandwell, Walsall and Coventry to look at how we work with the community to change spaces to get people better connected and active.
“We are also planning a regional healthy weight strategy through which we will be asking residents what barriers they experience to healthy eating and active living, so that we can act as a conduit to their removal.
“We are on a journey and, with our partners like the Black Country Consortium, are determined to make a real difference.”
Other WMCA-led programmes, with partners, are due to come on stream by the new year include Swift Public Transport designed to remove barriers to disabled people using buses and trains to access active places, such as sports centres, and Physical Activity 5000, which aims to improve inclusivity and mental health literacy in the sport and physical activity sector.