In attempting to define social policy one can not come up with one precise definition as social policy is a broad and diverse subject. According to (Spicker, P. 1995) it is the study of social service and the welfare state. The main social services include social security, housing, education, health and personal social services. The wikipedia states that social policy is the guidelines for changing maintenance or creation of living conditions that are conducive to human welfare. Social policies are as a result of government intervention in human affairs. They do not just merge up but they come about to address a social problem. Every policy has an ideological origin, aim, nature and an effect.
When the labour gorvenment came into power it adopted a policy on physical activity and sport development. In April 2001 the Government published its strategy for the development of sport over the next decade (Governments plans for sport 2001). The ideological origins of the policy of sport development and physical activities included the following to improve quality of life, improve health of the nation, tackle health inequalities, promote equality, reduce crime, provide opportunity of life long learning, neighborhood renewal and social integration. The aim was to bring Britain together and also set a national strategy for neighborhood renewal. According to the article from the office of the deputy minister on neighborhood renewal unit (Renewal.net 2008) it defined neighborhood renewal as about reversing the spiral decline, working from the grassroots to deliver economic prosperity ,jobs, safer communities, education, physical activities and better health. Sport would contribute to neighborhood renewal and make a difference in crime, employment, and education. This was to be achieved by providing access to all individuals to quality sport, play, physical activity opportunity promoting individual development (East Riding Council 2008).
The Council of Europe defines sport as “All forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and well-being, forming social relationships, or obtaining results in competition at all levels”
Sport is defined broadly, embracing both formal and informal activities undertaken for leisure, health and social benefit including recreational activities such as walking and cycling. Participation in appropriate sport and physical activity provides social, health and economic benefits for individuals, communities and the country as a whole.
At the heart of the sport development and physical activities was social inclusion(sport development 2001). This was to promote equality and fairness in the society and remove any form of discrimination which may include age, race, gender, ability and need. Other reasons that may result people being excluded from the society may include unemployment, poor skills, low income, poor housing, crime, bad health or family breakdown. According to the report by (Renewal.net 2008) people living in disadvantage areas, older people, people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities were not obtaining the full social health and economic benefits from participation in sport and physical activities. Therefore Sport development was to deal with the opportunities available for people to progress to their potential in sport, from taking part for fun and health to competition and also encompasses the provision of opportunities for addressing the social issues of the day through participation in sport.
The policy in sport development and physical activities aimed at addressing number social problems which included crime, health, education and social exclusion. Sport would encourage community safety. (Collins et al 1999) suggested that “sport might contribute to combat crime particularly youth and juvenile criminal behaviors.” Sport could also help youth offenders, in that they can work with officers who will assist in helping them to gain qualifications and mentor them and use sport to prevent them in anti social behaviors. Sports and physical activities prevent or control risky behaviors among young people for example tobacco or other substance abuse, unhealthy diets or violence (WHO 2003). Providing sport for young people also helps to prevent boredom and helps to teach values and morals, teamwork, respect for others and have a common goal.
Sports also help in both physical and mental health. An article from the East Riding Yorkshire Council cited that “absence from work cost United Kingdom business over eleven billion pounds per annum. Sports and physical activities increase employability and help contribute to the economic vitality of the community. They also help reduce the risk of prada Willis, obesity, coronary heart disease and even diabetes. Sports can also help in therapy and can reduce stress and depression. According to (Bourchard et al, 1994) benefits of sports and physical activities also include reduction in mobility and mortality from disease of several body systems. Establishment of healthful patterns of exercise, positive attitude and adaptive mechanism for coping with stress are likely to yield continued future benefits (Conger, 1987). In addition to that they help improve the sense of well being, self esteem and confidence. Many sporting activities can also be used for rehabilitation, therapeutic and recreation for people with disabilities helping them develop positive mental attitudes (Kumbhare D, Basmajian J 2000)
Another aim of this policy was social inclusion; people in the community integrate together helping them to develop a sense community identity. Being involved in sports would make people with the similar interest work together and have a better understanding of one another. Sports and physical activities also help to break social barriers. People from different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities are able to work together as a team and have a common goal. Every member of the community can participate as they have fair access of the resources. Sports and physical activities have a positive impact on the elderly and those with disabilities as they strengthen bones and help build and maintain healthy muscle joints for people with chronic disabling conditions improve stamina (WHO 2003)
The policy also aimed at providing training, employment and improve skill within the sector itself thus enhancing individuals’ prospects for obtaining employment. Involving people with voluntary and paid sport and physical activity leadership and coaching can help some to gain qualifications and future employment, within or outside of the sports sector. A report from the (East Riding Yorkshire Council 2008) stated that the provision of sport business and services and the manufacturer of sport goods and equipment make a significant contribution to the employment and gross value (9.8 billion pounds).
To implement this policy the government divided into the following groups sport in education and sport in the community. The government placed a special emphasis on school sport this is because taking part in school sport helped young people to develop a sporting talent, improved health, team work skills and self discipline. The school sport coordinator programme stated that every pupil was entitled to 2 hours of high quality of physical education and sport in a week within and beyond the curriculum(PE, School Sport And Club Links PESSCL strategy 2002(DFES) . The government introduced different programmes to help development in children and these included the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DFES),The Children’s Act 2004, and Every Child Matters 2004 and the sure start which was to help deliver the best in life for every child by bringing together early education, health and family support. There are also organization which are to mainly support children’s sport and one of them is Tames sport development which works in partnership with over 66 primary schools and its main purpose is to provide quality sporting experience within the schools.
In the community one of the primary aim was to improve accessibility of sports to everyone. The main aim was to promote equality, resulting them targerting groups like the ethnic minorities, disabled, women and the elderly. Thus by incorporating the Disability Act 1995 or the Race relations (amendment) Act 2000. In the community local authorities were going to play a central role in delivering sport in the community. Older people should at least engage in moderate intensity sport a day or active recreation three or more days a week (sports playing its part 2005 sport England). The Ashton renewal sport officer aims to provide community access for young people with little or no cost.
The policy of sport development and physical activities has already had an impact on the society as a whole. According to Jacquie Smith mp parliamentary under secretary of state of school standards, in 2002 the government had established eighty four specialist sport colleges in fifty nine local education authorities and 159 school sport co- coordinators had started working with teachers and parents to provide more for people in competing sports.
A research done by the British market research bureau stated that children are most popular out of hours activity was participating in sports. Some of the positive effects of sport development and physical activities include helped people develop interpersonal skills, has helped combat adolescence depression and helped reduce childhood obesity 6% of childhood obesity .The sport development and physical activities policy has been successful to a greater extent. People in different communities are engaged in local community sport sessions and eventually becoming members of sport clubs. It has also made people aware of healthy lifestyles and also has promoted increased knowledge and understanding of physical activities.
Another positive effect of this policy is that a lot of young people are now participating or are involved in sport or physical activities. The Tames sport development scheme engages 7000 young people into school sport and physical education and the after school clubs within a school year attract a total of about 5000 young people from all cultures and backgrounds. In Devon secondary schools are involved in different multi sport events one of them is the pentathlon challenge were over 400 students take part in different sports. The Norfolk county has adopted a vision for physical activity which is “to make sport and physical activity an everyday part of everybody’s life in a Norfolk and one of its goals to promote the value of sport and physical activity improving quality of life for all. In Norfolk schools are able to access the resources for support in sport and physical development. Greater Manchester youth games have over 400 young people participating and has also produced Paralympics competitors.
Several councils have now adopted a positive approach towards sports for their communities. An example is the East Riding Yorkshire Council that believes in working with people to promote physical and mental well being.
In conclusion Nelson Mandela once said “Sport can create hope where there was once only despair. It breaks down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of discrimination. Sports speak to people in a language that they can understand.”
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