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Blog: Championing the cause

In his latest blog, Co-Founder James Mapstone explains how the Alliance of Sport is using its members’ great work to influence policy and practice at the highest level.

The profile of the Sport for Development sector is at an all-time high. Role models such as Ambassador John McAvoy, LJ Flanders and Tanayah Sam – along with many other people and organisations delivering sport in communities and prisons – are doing a magnificent job of showcasing the power of sport in supporting those with multiple and complex needs.

John, LJ and others such as Pete Bell, an FA Coach Mentor, are telling their powerful stories of rehabilitation through sport and physical activity, while Tanayah’s project in Birmingham is one of many showcasing how sport can help transform mindsets and offending behaviour in schools and disadvantaged communities. 

One of the Alliance of Sport’s key roles is to use this large and compelling evidence base to influence policy and practice at the highest level. 

It was with this in mind that we recently made a submission to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) inquiry, which is investigating ways in which taking part in the arts, cultural activities and sport can have a positive impact on health, crime reduction, communities and education.

We were proud to showcase some of the fabulous work of our member organisations, showing the DCMS examples of best practice that could in future inform Government policy. 

This follows on from our recent Ministry of Justice-commissioned Review of Sport in Criminal Justice in partnership with Professor Rosie Meek, which is due to launch this Spring. We are looking forward to showcasing the best of what Sport for Development can achieve and are hopeful that this will become a highly influential piece of work that supports further collaboration between sport and criminal justice. 

On the theme of collaboration, we welcome and are thankful that DCMS have agreed to join our Steering Group. It is important that we continue to connect the efforts and coordinate best practice along with other stakeholders across sport, government, criminal justice, public health and academia. We are proud to facilitate this kind of collaboration and it will only help our cause going forward. 

We now have to keep the momentum going and capitalise on the ever-growing profile of Sport for Development, by lobbying and keeping pressure up on those in influential positions. We want to hear from more members and showcase more best practice so that we can elevate sport to its rightful place at the heart of the criminal justice system.

Take a look at our latest news and insight from across the sector here.