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London sport strategy 2021
Sport England
“Our efforts will support those from under-represented and under-served communities who face the most barriers to participation.”
Emily Robinson,
Chief Executive

In the years since London Sport was founded, in 2014, physical activity and sport have seen many changes both here in London and across the country. One thing that remains the same, though, is our commitment to making London a more active city which, we believe, will improve lives and ensure London develops as a healthy, happy and more prosperous city.

When we took the decision to develop a new strategy to guide our work for the coming years, we were clear that our core vision must remain the same. Becoming an active city will improve the health and wellbeing of all Londoners.

Twelve months after our strategy has launched, with a new Chief Executive Officer in place and the long-term effect of living with Covid-19 becoming even more clear, the key aspirations of our strategy remain in place. London Sport is committed to implementing this strategy.

This strategy focuses unapologetically on the needs of Londoners who, for whatever reason, are unable to achieve recommended levels of physical activity. Our efforts will support those from under-represented and under-served communities who face the most barriers to participation.

There is recognition of the deep impacts of covid-19 on our city and it will take time to tackle the inequalities that have become further entrenched within London.

We must tackle the inequalities that exist in terms of access and opportunity in physical activity and sport but also bring physical activity and sport as a solution to wider societal inequalities, including health.

Physical activity and sport have the power to help people live happier, healthier lives so we will do everything in our power to build a brighter, more active future for London.

Where our last strategy lay the building blocks for a physically active London, our new strategy is about the city’s people, its communities, and its rich diversity. We will work with partners and communities to ensure a future with less barriers and greater access to physical activity and sport across London.

London is in a strong position. We have a world-leading reputation for physical activity, a thriving sporting infrastructure and a real commitment from leaders right across the city to use physical activity to the full extent of its potential.

Now is the time to capitalise on those assets and to drive forward a programme of measures that will help more Londoners to get active, stay active and create an active legacy for generations to come.

Emily Robinson, Chief Executive
Jillian Moore, Chair

Page updated in March 2022
uniting the movement

London Sport’s strategy exemplifies the ambition, collaboration and adaptability our sector needs to help millions more people reap the rewards of an active life.

Sport and physical activity are essential for our physical and mental health and for bringing communities together. Put simply, when we move, we are stronger. However stubborn inequalities too often deny children’s, adults’ and neighbourhoods’ access to the transformational benefits that being active can bring.

Removing the barriers to activity will be a key priority of Sport England’s own new strategy for the next decade. Our experience shows that Active Partnerships can play a leading role to provide the right options and opportunities for their areas and communities.

Before the pandemic, our nation achieved record levels of activity. Today we are confident that London Sport and their networks will work tirelessly to get that momentum back and change lives for the better in every home, and in every community across our capital.

Tim Hollingsworth Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England Sport England
why it's so
Changing lives
We have all seen physical activity and sport’s ability to change lives, whether it’s our own experience or people we know or have worked with. The simple act of being active for 30 minutes a day has proven physical and mental health benefits and contributes to every stage of our development, both as individuals and as a society. We care deeply about these outcomes and we want every Londoner to enjoy the benefits they bring.
Individual development
Boosts academic achievement and school behaviour
economic development
The annual value of health benefits that sport participation bring is worth c. £1.7 billion
physical wellbeing
Helps maintain healthy weight and reduces obesity
social integration
Helps socially excluded people feel part of a community and increases their belonging
mental wellbeing
Reduces anxiety, stress and depression
“As a young person, I was never really interested in sport. I’ve been playing rugby for about five years now, though; it’s been an outlet for my competitiveness, and it’s opened my eyes to opportunities I never knew I had. It introduced me to volunteering, too, and that’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life – it helped me really grow as a person.”
Volunteer and Participant, Burgess Sports
The value of being active

Taken together, the benefits of physical activity create tangible monetary impacts.

Figures from Social Return on Investment in Sport: A participation wide model for England (Sheffield Hallam University).

£499.2 million
Physical Wellbeing
CHD/Stroke, Diabetes, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Dementia, Depression and Good Health
£3.05 billion
Mental Wellbeing
Improved social capital and crime reduction
£160.9 million
Individual Development
Improved educational attainment and enhanced human capital
£5.04 billion
Social & Community Development
Subjective wellbeing of participants and volunteers
our mission
make london the most active city in the world
The value of being active
Make London the most active city in the world

We exist to help make London the most physically active city in the world. We believe that physical activity and sport has the ability to change lives for the better and we want to utilise physical activity to help all Londoners live happier, healthier lives.

It is an ambitious goal and it underpins everything that we do. It’s not a goal that we can, should or want to achieve alone. We want to create a movement across the capital, organisations, groups and individuals who share our vision and want to work together to make it happen.

“Becoming the most active city in the world isn’t simply an ambition to build London’s reputation, but a call-to-arms to improve the lives of all Londoners through physical activity and sport.”
Emily Robinson, Chief Executive
London Sport
Our strategy is made up of six long-term goals which, when we achieve them, will make a fundamental difference to physical activity in London and to London itself. These are not easy goals to achieve and making them happen will take time. But we believe they are game-changers and where we must put our focus and our efforts as an organisation dedicated to making real change through physical activity and sport.
to crisis
The impacts of covid-19 have cut right across physical activity and sport in London, with initial data suggesting activity levels have been hit hard by the pandemic and the associated control measures. Meanwhile, community sport bodies in all parts of the capital have faced serious and significant challenges to their long-term prosperity. Alongside our six goals, we will work to support community sport’s recovery from the impacts of covid-19.
focus areas
Developing training, guidance and resources to help community sport providers adapt to new conditions created by covid-19
Funding projects that meet the needs of the worst-impacted communities of Londoners and to aiding organisations which support their needs
Finding new ways for digital and technology-based solutions to keep Londoners active as community sport recovers
Increase physical activity levels among less active adults, reducing inequalities and inactivity

We will work to increase physical activity levels among adults achieving less than the Chief Medical Officer recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. In doing so, we will particularly focus on the most inactive Londoners – those who, for a range of reasons, get less than 30 minutes of activity a week.

It’s important to us that we champion solutions that meet the needs of these less active Londoners and also that we work to reduce the inequalities that persist in people having the opportunities to live active lives.

focus areas
Working in communities with local projects, helping people to co-create and access physical activity that works best for them
Working to shape, increase and diversify the use of traditional and non-traditional places that people can get active
Working in partnership to achieve specific social outcomes where we know physical activity and sport can make a difference
“London’s community youth organisations have been using fun and trusted relationships to get young Londoners active and moving for over a century. Developing a lifetime love of sport and physical activity has a transformational impact on a young person’s life – for their health and happiness, but also their motivation, confidence, teamwork and self-expression.”
Kelly Dummer
Head of Sport and Employability, London Youth
focus areas
Providing young people with more and different opportunities to get active in the ways that suit them
Creating more safe spaces for young Londoners to get active in
Developing young leaders for physical activity to empower and inspire others
give all young Londoners the best opportunity to form a positive physical activity habit for life

If we want London to be the most active city in the world, it is essential that the next generation of Londoners are more active than those that came before them.

To do that, we need to ensure they have the best opportunities to be active and the most positive relationship with physical activity that they can. By working to help young Londoners enjoy being active and to feel the benefits for themselves, we stand the greatest chance of helping them to create positive habits that will see them through every stage of their lives.

Improve policy, systems and investment to support active lives

We will champion the policies and systems that create an environment that helps more people to get active across the whole of London. We’ll also continue to work to bring increased investment to the table that will help to achieve sustainable, long-term improvements in physical activity and sport. We will work to use our influence to make those changes that will have a positive impact on people’s ability to lead an active life.

focus areas
Developing and sharing evidence about the positive impacts of physical activity and sport, making it meaningful for the decision makers that can make the biggest difference
Working in partnership with leaders on local projects to effect system change to facilitate people living active lives
Using our voice to advocate for physical activity as a way to make real change in Londoners’ lives
Use tech, data and digital communications to support Londoners to get and stay active
Tech, data and digital communications are a central part of people’s lives and can play a significant part in helping to maintain motivation to be active. We will work to build and enhance their role in getting and keeping Londoners active, supporting the tech sector to find new opportunities to work in physical activity and sport in addition to working with the sport sector to increase their confidence in using tech, digital and data.
focus areas
Supporting the development of tech products and services that help get and keep Londoners active
Using digital communications and campaigns to support, inform and motivate people
Using data to help inform new solutions to increase physical activity levels
Lead the way in bringing organisations together to create, develop, test, champion and scale innovative ways of supporting active lives

We know that traditional grassroots sport is a key part of many Londoners’ lives, but we also want to ensure that new approaches are developed, considered and implemented where they can help meet the needs of the least active Londoners. We will work to champion innovation in grassroots sport to help increase overall activity levels.

focus areas
Systematically co-creating and developing new and innovative approaches to physical activity and sport across the capital
Act as a catalyst for collaboration, new thinking and creative problem solving
Supporting our own workforce and other organisations to confidently use innovation techniques
Ensure evidence, data and high quality insight inform the development of policy and practice of supporting active lives
By collating and sharing robust evidence on the positive impact of physical activity, we aim to make better decisions on our own work and to help more organisations to understand the benefits of physical activity.
focus areas
Developing and applying insight and research to ensure continual improvement in all we do
Working with partners to help them access up-to-date data and evidence to inform new approaches
Building the evidence base around physical activity and sport, demonstrating its impact on people’s lives

Our six goals have been designed to work as a single approach that, taken together, will get us closer to making London the most active city in the world. At the heart are our two main outcomes: getting inactive and less active adults active and helping young Londoners to develop positive physical activity habits for life. Our other four goals are the tools to help us make long-term, sustainable change to the ways that people get active now and for years to come.

Less active

To achieve our aims, we need to understand much more about the lives of less active Londoners and their relationship with physical activity. We need to walk in their shoes and get a real feel for their attitudes towards physical activity, their motivations to move, the things that are stopping them and the ways they want to get active. Based on extensive research, we have identified seven ‘personas’ which provide an attitudinal segmentation of the adults in London that are not currently active; a deep dive into the attitudes that less active Londoners have today towards physical activity and sport. Taken together, these seven groups represent more than 2.5 million Londoners.

If you’re interested in finding out more of the detailed data on any or all of the seven groups, please do contact us at [email protected]

elderly evaders
anxious avoiders
want to but can't
young impressionables
time poor integrators
inconsistently involved
almost actives
“Sport and physical activity in school and community settings provides invaluable opportunities for children to develop physically, socially and emotionally, and in many cases, forms respite services and a vital safety net for the most vulnerable. Our unwavering efforts to support the health and wellbeing of children and young people across London are vital, creating as many positive experiences and accessible opportunities as possible for all children and young people to choose and enjoy an active life”
Jack Shakespeare
Director of Young People, Families and Research, ukactive

Developing an understanding of youth personalities helps us to understand the young Londoners we’re trying to reach - what are the defining traits of each personality group? What is their relationship with sport? How do they spend their time?

This helps us to understand how to attract the attention of each personality type, the principles for delivering in the right environment and providing the right type of experience for each personality type. This will help us to encourage young Londoners to stay involved and take part more often.

confident intellectuals
cautious introverts
everyday youths
thoughtful improvers
ambitious self-starters
sports enthusiasts
how we
how we will work
Achieving our vision of making London the most active city in the world relies as much on the ways we work as the areas we will work in. We have identified six key approaches which will inform how we work
purposeful & proactive
We will be clear on the outcomes we aim to achieve and proactive in identifying the most effective ways of getting there
collaborative & Supportive
We know that our vision cannot be achieved by working alone. We will work in genuine partnership and want to see every organisation that we work with thrive alongside us
Results driven
We will work to drive tangible results and impact from our work. While we recognise that it will take time, we ultimately want to see real, measurable changes in the lives of the people we support. We will learn from what works, and just as importantly from what doesn’t
Taking an inclusive approach is central to our thinking and critical in driving down inequalities in physical activity and sport. We will work to ensure all activity we are involved in is as accessible as possible and that we are genuinely inclusive of all people and communities across our city
We know that local change only takes root when it involves genuine collaboration with local communities. We will work creatively with communities to develop programmes and opportunities together that are meaningful and respond to local needs and desires
If we are going to make changes stick, we recognise that there needs to be systemic shifts in the way we approach physical activity and sport. We will work towards influencing change in every part of the system
learning &
our impact
Our impact
measurement approach

The ultimate impact we’re aiming for is a sustainable increase in activity levels across London’s population and, critically, a reduction in the inequalities in physical activity and sport that exist across particular parts of London’s communities.

This is what we’re gunning for and we’ll monitor progress towards this intended impact through Sport England’s Active Lives Survey. However, we recognise that we’re one player in a complex web of factors that influence physical activity levels. Our approach seeks to understand more about this broader system, the impact it has and how it can be influenced.

We are consciously implementing ways to learn as much as possible from our work, seeking to understand what works, what doesn’t and why. This is vital to our success and also to our commitment to support other organisations that share our vision by providing robust insight and new learnings.

organisation &
becoming more like london
It is essential our own staff reflect the city that we serve which is why we have set ourselves the target of reflecting the diversity of London. We are an anti-racist organisation that stands against inequality in all its forms. Increasing our diversity simply is the right thing to do and will make us stronger, more effective and more empathetic as an organisation, more understanding of the realities that communities across our city face. And better prepared to develop solutions that champion physical activity and sport for all Londoners.
“I loved participating in sports as a youngster, but as I got older, I became more aware of the challenges I was facing as a young, Muslim woman. Sport didn’t have people that looked like me, and I felt it was inaccessible for people who wore a hijab; it often felt like a different world that couldn’t be entered by people who looked like me. I took the opportunity to run my own sessions to improve prospects for Muslim women in sport, because I knew it was something I needed to do.”
Yashmin Harun,
Founder, Muslimah Sports Association
organisation & culture
We are committed to making ourselves the best organisation we can be. By ensuring we are financially sustainable, well run and governed and an excellent place to work for our people we will make a faster, stronger impact on physical activity and sport in London
diversify income
We will diversify our income streams to increase our financial sustainability into the future.
organisational excellence
We will continue to strive for excellence in how we are governed and how we operate, continually striving for improvement.
best place to work
We want to be the best possible place for our own staff to work, attracting and retaining talented and committed people who develop and thrive at London Sport.
better together

We know we can’t achieve our goals alone. And that we are only one of hundreds of organisations that believe in the power of physical activity and sport to change Londoners’ lives.

We are fortunate to have a phenomenal network of partners and we want to work even more closely with other groups and organisations from every part of our city to make a real difference to communities right across London and together make London the most active city in the world.

Want to work with us to create a more active London? We’d love to hear from you!