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Investing in the future of the West Midlands

With 2022 set to be a big year for Birmingham and the surrounding area, Adam blogs about how we're supporting the Commonwealth Games and aiming to build community links through sport and physical activity.

13th January 2022

by Adam Rigarlsford
Strategic lead for local relationships, Sport England

The past couple of years have been challenging for us all in so many ways.

While the pandemic period is far from over and we must continue to stay vigilant, 2022 is due to see the UK host some major landmark events and promises to be a memorable and eventful year, for all the right reasons.

From March to October 2022, there will be the opportunity to get involved in the incredible projects of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK - the biggest and most ambitious showcasing of culture and creativity across the UK, while in June you can join street parties across the country to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and on 28 July the 22nd Commonwealth Games will begin in Birmingham and surrounding areas.

The Commonwealth Games is an opportunity to come together as a nation to celebrate and cheer on some of the best sporting talent from across the Commonwealth.

But for Sport England, it is a whole lot more.

Children in Birmingham play 3x3 basketball at celebrations to mark two years until Birmingham 2022

We want to use it as an opportunity to showcase the role of sport and physical activity to transform lives and communities and make it accessible and available for everyone – no matter their background.

A legacy that helps to both develop the sporting talent of the future and to achieve the ambitions and commitment in our 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, to tackle inequalities, level up access and use sport and physical activity to help create more inclusive, healthier, resilient and connected communities.  

That is why we are investing nearly £30m into the games, with a significant focus on the West Midlands, to help remove the barriers and provide the opportunity for people and communities to be active.

This includes committing more than £9m to help fund local infrastructure – including investment into Sandwell Aquatic Centre and Cannock Chase bike trails – and provide world class facilities to be used during the Games.

Importantly, the facilities will be available and accessible to local communities to use once the Games has finished.

The Commonwealth Games is an opportunity to come together as a nation to celebrate and cheer on some of the best sporting talent from across the Commonwealth.

But for Sport England, it is a whole lot more.

This investment also includes the funding of our Places and Spaces programme across the West Midlands, working with Crowdfunder to support community organisations to raise funding for important community projects.

But as well as inspiring the people and communities of the West Midlands to get active, more importantly we want to work to keep them active.

We are directly investing £3m into a Commonwealth Active Communities programme in the Black Country, Coventry, Birmingham and Solihull.

This investment will put communities at the heart of local action, supporting people to move more on a daily basis where they live. 

There’s no one size fits all approach so, if we want this to be a lasting and meaningful legacy, we must ensure we cater our approach to meet local needs.

That is why we are talking, and more importantly listening, to communities, grassroots organisations, local sports clubs, volunteers and other partners to understand their priorities, what works and where investment is most needed.

We are also investing in the next generation of talent to help national coaches and athletes of the future, with a particular focus on talent from backgrounds that are historically under-represented, so the sport sector and our national teams better reflect British society.

This is also an opportunity to support more children and young people to get active, which is why we’ve invested £4.4m into the School Games.

This will go towards engaging with and encouraging more children to get involved in the School Games, offering a wider range of physical activity by providing extra resources for schools, as well as supporting the national finals to take place in 2022.

With a little over six months to go and our legacy work already well underway, the Commonwealth Games brings with it a real opportunity to both celebrate the now and build for the future.

Find out more about our Places and Spaces fund.

Places and Spaces

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