Enough is enough: why we must take action to address racial inequality in physical activity
Posted: Fri, 23 Apr 2021 11:17
Paul Brivio, Chief Executive of Active Oxfordshire, talks about why tackling inequalities must be our top priority so that every adult and child in Oxfordshire has an equal chance at an active life:
I was shocked to see recent figures from Swim England showing that 95% of black adults and 80% of black children in England do not swim, and that only 2% of regular swimmers are black. These figures are not only unacceptable, but they are also life-threatening – black children are three times more likely to drown than white children. Closer to home in Oxfordshire, we know that only 20% of children from Asian communities swim on a regular basis, compared to 34% of white children. (Active Lives Children & Young People data 2017-2019)
These figures set out the scale of the challenge ahead as we prepare for our 2021 Water Safety Summit next week, supporting and advising partners to help make sure that every child in Oxfordshire can learn to swim. After a devastating year where swimming pools were closed and school lessons cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this has never been more urgent.
At the same time, we're seeing significant, positive change as the nation takes its first gentle steps back to play and our facilities are preparing to open their doors again. But who will benefit most? Not the people who most need physical activity and sport in their lives, I would argue. We need to build back better AND fairer too. We want to play our part as Active Oxfordshire – to influence change; to direct support to those communities who suffer most from health inequalities; and to work with partners who can engage with people in greatest need. In Oxfordshire we have so many superb assets and qualities, but we also have deep divides - often represented in the breakdown of the people who actually use our publicly owned facilities and voluntary sector clubs most and those that don't - because of price; because of the welcome (or lack of it); because they cannot swim or cycle in the first place; because of location or because they simply do not have the time given other pressures in their lives.
This week, as well as launching our 2021 Water Safety Summit, Active Oxfordshire is promoting our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and Commitments. We are only just at the start of our own journey and we have much to learn as well as something to contribute. We are emboldened by the new Sport England Strategy -Uniting the Movement- which is unequivocal on the need to tackle inequalities in our society and sector. We feel supported by the Active Partnership Network and its commitment to anti -racism and racial equality. We want to effect positive change to create a level playing field; and realise all the talent and potential out there in our community.
We want to be on the pitch, not watching from the stands. Come and join us to fight inactivity, tackle inequality and help us deliver activity and sport for all in Oxfordshire.