Youth Charter – Written evidence (NPS0079)


Prof. Geoff Thompson MBE FRSA DL, Founder and Chair, Youth Charter


1.0                        BACKGROUND: YOUTH CHARTER


  1. The Youth Charter is in its 28th Year, having launched on 23rd March 1993, at Wembley Stadium, in response to the tragic murder of 14-year-old schoolboy Benji Stanley, who was shot dead in Moss Side on 2nd January 1993.


  1. The Youth Charter is a 27 Year Games Legacy of Manchester’s bid for the 2000 Olympic Games and the hosting of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games that has inspired a global Sport for Development and Peace movement/sector.


  1. The Youth Charter has campaigned and promoted the role and value of sport, arts, culture and digital technology in the lives of disaffected young people from disadvantaged communities nationally and internationally.


  1. The Youth Charter has a proven track record in the creation and delivery of social and human development legacy projects and programmes with the overall aim of providing young people with an opportunity through sport, art, culture and digital technology to develop in life.


  1. Through our work with young people and communities the Youth Charter has developed three strategic themes that delivers its project and programme offer:



2.0           QUESTIONS


2.1           How can local delivery, including funding structures, of sport and recreation be improved to ensure that people of all ages and abilities are able to lead an active lifestyle? For example, how successfully do local authorities and other bodies such as Active Partnerships, Leisure Trusts, local sports clubs and charities work together, and how might coordination be improved?


  1. Recommendations:


  1. The Youth Charter’s focus is on children and young people and we have been calling for FREE Access to Leisure facilities for under 18’s since the launch YC 2012 Legacy Manifesto in 2011 following the riots across England and in the lead up to London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. However, since 2011, we have had a decade of austerity which has seen youth centres and leisure centres closed.


  1. As we “Build Back Better” from the Covid-19 Pandemic it will be important to encourage children and young people to become more active in and out school. Therefore, providing FREE Access to Leisure facilities for under 18’s would help to achieve this. In addition to this it would also provide valuable investment of leisure facilities that have been hit so hard by closures during the Covid-19 Lockdowns.


  1. At a local level, it is important to empower young people and the wider community to be able choose the sport and recreational activities that they would like to participate in. Thus, if we provided Sport and Recreation Vouchers to people of all ages to spend on the sport and recreation activities of their choice, we can directly support local sports and recreation providers. For example, many children might use this voucher at their local junior sport clubs.


  1.          The Youth Charter’s Community Campus provides a Model and Framework for the local delivery of sport and recreation bringing to Stakeholder Partners to work in Collaboration in providing access to facilities. A Community Campus is made up of hub facilities, such as, schools, community centres, youth clubs, sports centres, further and higher education institutions or any facility delivering a youth cultural engagement provision. Each facility is quality assured in the delivery of the Social Coach Leadership Programme and the Youthwise offer.


2.2           How can children and young people be encouraged to participate in sport and recreation both at school and outside school, and lead an active lifestyle? If possible, share examples of success stories and good practice, and challenges faced.


  1.          Recommendation:


  1.          The most important factor shaping children and young people’s positive or negative experiences of sport and physical activity will always be the teachers, youth workers or coaches delivering the sessions. Thus, we will require a well-trained work/volunteer force who know how to engage, equip and empower young people. The Youth Charter has developed a Social Coach Leadership Programme (SCLP) that provides just that. The Social Coach aspires to develop and use strong emotional intelligence, common sense and life skills as part of a cultural activity experience. Mentoring, guiding, directing, coaching, teaching, are all part of the Social Coach Leadership skill-sets that allow a multi-agency diverse and rich currency of experience for all walks of life, backgrounds, beliefs, faiths and identities.


  1.          The Social Coach Leadership Programme brings together the required skills and competencies to:



  1.          The Youth Charter has developed a Model of Youth Development Pathways through Sport from Local to National Levels. At a Local Level the model identifies three areas of delivery for sport: School, College & University; Community Sport Clubs; and Community Sport Programmes. At a Local Level the model also identifies 5 Levels of participation from informal sport and physical activity to local competitions and development squads. The model applies the Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) Model to support young people lead active lifestyles in school and out of school, which includes the following stages of development: Active Start (age 0-6); FUNdamentals (age 6-9); Learn to Train (age 8 to 12); Train to Train (age 11 to 16); Train to Compete (15 to 23); Train to Win (18+); and Active for Life (any age).


2.3           How can adults of all ages and backgrounds, particularly those from under-represented groups, including women and girls, ethnic minorities, disabled people, older people, and those from less affluent backgrounds, be encouraged to lead more active lifestyles? If possible, share examples of success stories and good practice, and challenges faced.


  1.          Recommendation:


  1.          The Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review published in December 2020 discusses the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our least affluent and most diverse communities. This report followed the Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On which was published in February 2020 and showed that the UK’s endemic Health Inequalities have grown over the last 10 years and that life expectancy for the poorest 10% of women is declining.


  1.          The Marmot Review report links Health Inequalities directly to Socio-Economic Inequalities. The cost of accessing leisure facilities is the biggest barrier to the least affluent communities. However, we can improve adult health through Intergenerational Sport and Recreation, with Sport and Recreation Vouchers allowing adults to choose where and when they participate in sport and recreation, this could be at local sports club which provide activities from Junior to Adult and Senior Citizen Levels or it may be attending their local leisure centre.


  1.          Community Campuses (as discussed in Q1) provide the opportunity for economies of scale at local level by bringing together leisure facilities and local sport and recreation providers, who can also work with local GPs to sign post adults.


2.4           Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, the Government’s 2015 sports strategy, outlines five outcome priorities: physical health, mental health, individual development, social and community development and economic development. Are these the right priorities and how successful has the government been in measuring and delivering these outcomes to date?


  1.          Recommendation:


  1.          The 2015 Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation provided five clear outcome objectives. However, Sport England has recently launched a new strategy Uniting the Movement, which provides different but similar outcome objectives: Recover and Reinvent; Connecting Communities; Positive experiences for children and young people; Connecting with health and wellbeing; and Active environments.


  1.          The 2002 Game Plan: a strategy for delivering Government’s sport and physical activity objectives, set out a long vision for sport and physical activity by 2020:  “to increase significantly levels of sport and physical activity, particularly among disadvantaged groups; and to achieve sustained levels of success in international competition”.


  1.          The changing policies and strategic objectives every number of years do not support the implementation and delivery of a coherent and sustainable comprehensive strategic plan of action. The result of which is witnessed in increasing health inequalities for the least affluent communities.


  1.          The Youth Charter’s Legacy Cultural Framework provides five clear and consistent Legacy Development Goals for a National Plan for Sport and Recreation/National Youth Development Plan: Education; Health; Citizenship; Environment; and College, University, Employment and Entrepreneurship. These goals are underpinned by: Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Participation; and Collaboration and Partnership. The Legacy Development Goals add value to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and are intergenerational with a focus of Lifelong Learning.


2.5           Is government capturing an accurate picture of how people participate in sport and recreation activities in its data collection? How could this be improved?


  1.          Recommendation:


  1.          The Active People’s Survey is the primary tool for which Sports Participation is measured. However, how many of the county’s least active people participated in this survey? Does it provide a real reflection of participation across of the country?


  1.          A more accurate reflection of sport and recreation participation could be provided through an analysis of the number of local sports club and leisure facilities across the country and the membership/participation rates at these clubs and leisure facilities.


  1.          We should also consider Active Travel, principally walking and cycling, as measures of sport and recreation participation. By supporting Active Travel, we can increase the health and wellbeing of communities and reduce our impact on the environment, including Global Heating and Air Pollution. Access to cycle lanes and integrated public transport can be included Active Travel measures, in line with Public Health England recommendations.


2.6           How can racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and ableism in sport be tackled?


  1.          Recommendation:


  1.          The key to delivering Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Participation is ensuring we deliver proactive in educating and training programmes for decision makers, professionals and the public about the barriers, prejudices and biases sections of our society face in their everyday lives and in accessing services and facilities. We must also ensure the recruitment and deployment of decision makers and professionals are reflective of our diverse communities.


2.7           What can be done to improve and implement effective duty of care and safeguarding standards for sports and recreation actives at all levels?


  1.          The UK has developed some of the most sophisticated duty of care and safeguarding standards in the world.  This includes the Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) and the NSPCC Safeguarding Standards. The implementation of these can be achieved through continued professional development training for people working in sport and recreation at all levels.


2.8           What are the opportunities and challenges facing elite sports in the UK and what can be done to make national sports governing bodies more accountable? For example, accountability for representing and protecting their membership, promoting their sport and maximising participation.


  1.          Recommendation


  1.          Success of sports, athletes and events should not be measured solely on Medals but also in Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Participation (EDIP). Since the 1997, UK Sport has invested £1,158million in elite sport. However, over this period there has been a 76% increase in the proportion of Team GB athletes who attended Independent Schools, from 13.1% at Sydney 2000 to 23.4% at Rio 2016. This is despite only 7% of the UK population having attended independent school. Further to this, between Sydney 2000 and Tokyo 2020 there will have been £509.17m invested in 4 out of the top 5 UK Sport funded Olympic NGBs - British Swimming, British Rowing, British Cycling and Royal Yachting Association. However, these NGBs have had just 2 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Athletes out of 467 Athletes from Sydney 2000 to Rio 2016. (Youth Charter, 2017)


  1.          The Youth Charter has consistently called for British Sport Funding Model and Whole Sport Plan (or National Sport and Recreation Plan) linked directly to Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Participation (EDIP).


2.9           What successful policy interventions have other countries used to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to participate in sport and recreation, and lead more active lifestyles?


  1.          Recommendations:


  1.          Health inequalities is a global issue, particularly with increasing Obesity rates around the world. For the United Kingdom, it is best comparing our health inequalities within our European neighbours and countries of similar size. Please see the following table for the percentage of men and women (aged 18+) overweight or obese in the UK compared with Germany, France, Italy and Spain, between 2013 and 2015 (European Health Survey, 2020):





United Kingdom
















  1.          For men, the UK has similar rates to Germany and Spain, but France and Italy both have lower rates. Whist for women, the UK has higher rates than each of the other four countries. There are two key factors in increasing rates of obesity: Unhealthy Diet; and Physical Inactivity. There are many examples of good practice in the UK and around the world but simply put we reduce obesity and overweight by:



  1.          These two policy objectives are not new to the UK and are not unique to the UK. They are simply common sense.


2.10      Should there be a national plan for sport and recreation? Why/why not?


  1.          A National Plan for Sport and Recreation can be not be delivered in a silo, it should be part of a broader National Development Plan linked to other related development plans such as: National Youth Development Plan (please see Youth Charter National Call 2 Action); National Education Plan; National Health Plan; National Employment and Enterprise Plan.


  1.          Such plans should be established with clear Development Goals and Short (1 to 3 years), Medium (5 Year) and Long Term (10 Year) aims, objectives, outcomes and outputs. These plans should be part of British Law, with governments held to account for delivering them.


  1.          These plans would have to delivered along with fiscal planning, which should be set as percentage of GDP/GNP. For example, Public Sector spending could be set at 50% of GDP and GNP, and then public spending (including debt repayments) could set against this, with tax revenues also set at achieving this target without annual deficits except in times of recession.




  1.          The Youth Charter’s Sport for Development and Peace Library includes the following Government Submissions:



29 January 2021