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Leaders unite to support Get Well, Stay Well Agreement

Over 50 leaders from across government, health, sport, justice and the secure estate gathered at the House of Lords on Tuesday (21 March) for the parliamentary launch of the Get Well, Stay Well Agreement

The Get Well, Stay Well Agreement is part of a national plan led by the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice’s Taskforce, chaired by Baroness Sater and sponsored by NHS England. Its mission is to better utilise physical activity and sport to increase the health and wellbeing of children, young people and adults in the welfare and justice systems, as a means to reducing crime and reoffending. 

The Agreement is the result of research involving nearly 100 people, many of whom have personal experience of how physical and activity and sport can play a greater role in tackling health inequalities and increasing life chances. 

Kate Davies CBE addresses attendees in the Attlee and Reid Room at the House of Lords

As the name suggests, Get Well, Stay Well outlines two common goals which attendees at Tuesday’s launch were asked to support: 

– ‘Get Well’ refers to the point of engagement with children’s services, adult social care, the Youth Justice System and criminal justice services which take place in communities or the secure estate. At this point, an individual is likely to have been subject to a toxic cocktail of harmful behaviours, exploitation, trauma and adversity. This reinforces the need to ‘get well’ and is where the role of purposeful physical activity can be a cost-effective solution alongside other support and professional services. 

– ‘Stay Well’ refers to when a person may be in receipt of specialist support from multiple services with a plan based on their needs. The role of physical activity and sport can be to complement these services by increasing positive outcomes and providing continuity of care as a means of preventing and diverting people away from crime and reducing reoffending. 

Lord Markham CBE at the Get Well, Stay Well Agreement launch

The Agreement, which you can download here, makes 10 recommendations aimed at government, public and strategic bodies, identifying next steps to help strengthen coordination and collaboration through programme delivery, investment and building a robust body of evidence. 

At Tuesday’s event, Alliance of Sport Chief Executive James Mapstone also announced the launch of the second phase of the plan, the Get Well, Stay Well Charter. 

The Charter will feature a small number of key commitments which partners across all sectors (government, community, justice, health, physical activity and sport providers etc) will be able to sign up to through a new Get Well, Stay Well website, pledging their support to delivering the common goals. The ambition for year one is to reach over 250 public bodies, organisations and institutions, with annual growth thereafter. 

Attendees at the House of Lords were asked to sign up as early adopters and engage in the co-design of the key commitments. 

Together, we will build a movement that champions and celebrates innovation and effective practice, increases coordination and cooperation and raises awareness and support for providers working directly with those who need it most. Together, we will inspire and support efforts to get some of the most vulnerable and complex people in society more active, every day. 

Dr Sunil Lad, National Clinical Director for Health and Justice at NHS England

The event was hosted by Taskforce Chair Baroness Sater. The guest speakers were: Lord Markham CBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care; Kate Davies CBE, Director of Health and Justice, Armed Forces and Sexual Assault Services Commissioning; Dr Sunil Lad, National Clinical Director for Health and Justice at NHS England; Justine Best and Emma Hands, research consultants from Penal Reform Solutions; Alliance of Sport Ambassador David Haze and a message of support via video from the Rt. Hon Stuart Andrew MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Gambling and Civil Society, and Minister for Equalities and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. 

Kate Davies CBE said: “This is a time when we really need to get the whole system to be more ambitious in the reduction of offending behaviour and improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in society. The Get Well, Stay Well Agreement gives us a great opportunity to work together in order to achieve those aims.” 

Dr. Sunil Lad added: “The evidence tells us that many in the criminal justice population have backgrounds featuring trauma, health inequalities and negative experiences. As National Clinical Director, I’ve seen people learn to cope with these through drugs or alcohol. But what the Get Well, Stay Well Agreement can help develop is sport and physical activity as a healthier alternative coping strategy.” 

Justine Best from Penal Reform Solutions

Researcher Dr. Justine Best explained her personal background of growing up in care, living with PTSD and involvement with the youth justice system – and how sport helped maintain her physical and mental health through that adversity. “Making sport and physical activity accessible to everyone, regardless of who you are, where you’ve been, your ability or lack of it, is the ethos behind Get Well, Stay Well and I absolutely applaud it,” she said. 

David Haze, who outlined his world record-breaking stand-up paddleboarding achievements, which followed a second spell in custody, said: “Sport is such a powerful tool and I am living proof of that. I’m so honoured to be part of the Alliance of Sport and I know from my own experience that this initiative is going to have a huge impact.” 

Lord Markham added: “On behalf of the Government and on a very personal level, thank you to the Alliance of Sport and all its supporting partners for your incredible contribution in this space which is going to make a real difference.”