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Welcome to the Rural Sport & Recreation Toolkit. The site has been designed to offer you a simple yet inspiring insight into sport and recreation in rural areas. The East Of England is predominantly rural with many issues confined to isolation and deprivation restricting communities from accessing a range of sports and recreation activities. We hope this toolkit offers you some practical solutions that will help to create "active rural communities" in your area.

introduction

 

The former Prime Minister, Tony Blair placed great optimism in the potential influences of sport, having issued the following statement on 20th March 2002, which read:

‘It is important that we give encouragement to sport not only for its own sake but because, as many people now recognise, it is one of the best anti-crime policies that we could have. It is also a good a health and education policy as any other’ (Everybody wins)

With 14 million people (28.5% of the population) living in the rural districts of England it is essential that they have the same opportunity to gain the value of sport in their rural communities as any other.

The issues concerned are not new. As long ago as 1982, the then Eastern Council for Sport and Recreation (ECSR) noted in its report ‘Promoting Sport in Villages’ that ‘many of the problems associated with inner urban areas can have the same physical and emotional effects on those living in isolation in the countryside and without access to leisure opportunities’.

A follow-up ECSR document in 1986 (‘Sport and Recreation in Rural Communities’) identified the twin issues of facilities and transport as the key influences on access to sports and recreation opportunities in rural areas. It also highlighted a number of ways in which existing provision (village halls, schools etc.) can be used to supplement specialist sports facilities.

In the twenty or so years since these reports, there have been a number of significant developments in opportunities to participate in sport and recreation in rural areas, through the delivery of sports development programmes and the investment of many millions of pounds of Lottery grant awards, primarily in capital projects. Despite this, overall participation rates have remained stubbornly static and so the ‘East of England Plan for Sport 2004 - 2008 ’ (2004) has identified one key current strategic priority as ‘increasing participation in the region’s isolated rural communities, through innovation and creativity’.