Sheffield Council to axe £400,000 sporting and health service

Activity Sheffield event in Norfolk Park during the school holidays
Picture Dean Atkins
Activity Sheffield event in Norfolk Park during the school holidays Picture Dean Atkins
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An organisation that has helped hundreds of Sheffield community groups deliver sporting and health activities is facing closure due to council cuts.

Activity Sheffield has been told its £400,000 is to be ‘redirected’ to be invested in the city’s parks budget and the organisation shut down.

School children from seven schools in Sheffield took part in a mass participation skipping event at Ponds Forge organised by Activity Sheffield earlier this year. Members of Jump Rope UK performed a special show to the children.

School children from seven schools in Sheffield took part in a mass participation skipping event at Ponds Forge organised by Activity Sheffield earlier this year. Members of Jump Rope UK performed a special show to the children.

Council bosses said the service – which has a focus on deprived areas of the city – is ‘no longer financially viable’ in its current form.

It follows changes to the service last year which saw it take on a support role for groups wanting to deliver their own activities in Sheffield rather than directly providing them itself.

In the past six months, Activity Sheffield has supported more than 240 groups across the city to get people involved in healthy activities.

Paul Billington, director of culture and environment at Sheffield Council, said: “It is no secret that we as an authority are in a very difficult financial position and, due to further cuts in funding from central Government, we are having to make major changes to the way we run our services.”

Activity Sheffield helped organise Walk to School initiatives

Activity Sheffield helped organise Walk to School initiatives

Council bosses have spoken of their sadness as they prepare to close an organisation that has helped thousands of Sheffielders.

In the past six months alone, Activity Sheffield has supported more than 240 groups across the city to get people involved in sporting, health and wellbeing activities.

But it is now due to be shut down next year as the council focuses its under-pressure budgets on providing statutory services such as social care as Government grant cutbacks continue.

The organisation puts on events such as setting up sporting activities in local parks for schoolchildren during the holidays, as well as providing support for groups putting on their own activities such as Park Runs.

At present, the organisation employs 11 people.

If the change goes ahead, Activity Sheffield will be shut down but the equivalent of 2.5 full-time workers would remain within the council to help with city partnerships, advising groups and commission services.

A consultation on the change is running until December 23.

Paul Billington, director of culture and environment at Sheffield City Council, said: “We know that people will be saddened by these proposed changes. We are too. And now we are asking people to have their say, and comment on the proposals.

“We have already written to partners and community groups which will be affected by the proposed closure of Activity Sheffield, and are asking the wider public for their comments as well.”

A letter from Jo Pearce, head of Activity Sheffield, said: “Sheffield Council continues to face significant financial challenges as the Government further reduces its grant to the local authority. Extremely difficult decisions have had to be made over the past six years about services that the people of Sheffield care so much about.”

She said ‘the way in which Sheffield Council’s physical activity, sport and health and wellbeing offer is delivered in the city will need to fundamentally change’.

Activity Sheffield has been supporting groups including sports clubs, residents’ association and carers.

It provides support for things like applying with funding, promoting events, training, offering volunteers and equipment and connecting with other providers.

Recent work has included helping Manor Assembly apply for a £2,000 grant to support an older people’s ‘one-stop shop’ for the isolated and lonely, supporting residents in Winn Gardens, Middlewood, to get fit with a mobile gym and delivered a major project to encourage more children in Sheffield to walk to school.

It has worked with 138 lunch clubs to support health walks across the city, secured £2,000 in funding to help youngsters in Stradbroke go on holiday, supported Darnall Forum’s bid for funding for its lantern parade festival and helped support community garden improvements in Wisewood.

Anyone who wishes to comment on the closure proposal should email jo.pearce@sheffield.gov.uk before December 23.