Three local authorities are working together on a scheme to promote sport and healthy activities in communities across the Dearne Valley, after winning cash backing from Sport England.
Councils in Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley have been planning the Active Dearne initiative for more than two years, after deciding that a collaborative approach was the best way to secure improvements across the area, which straddles the boundaries of all three authorities.
The plan is to target adults on low incomes or out of work, to get them more involved in sport, with the target group being those who do less than one 30 minute session of exercise each week.
Now ‘community champions’ are being recruited and it is hoped eventually they will operate the Denaby, Swinton, Thurnscoe and Goldthorpe communities.
Councillors who represent the Barnsley area of the Dearne Valley have been told recruitment has now started, with the successful candidates expected to work for ten hours a week, encouraging residents to get more involved in sport.
The aim is to find people who are immersed in their community and are widely known, rather than those with a background or keen interest in sport.
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Active Dearne spokesman, Paul Cummins, told councillors: “In Denaby I met someone in the second day of their job and we went for a 15 minute walk around the area. Two and a half hours later, we were back, because she knew everyone.”
Sport England is keen for Active Dearne to report back on developments and the learning processes they have experienced in developing the scheme, as it progresses.
The community champions will be expected to work alongside people in their neighbourhoods, perhaps accompanying someone on swimming trips until that is established as a normal part of their routine.
A further objective is to commission other groups to get involved, such as sports clubs or walking groups and there is also potential to seek backing from some of the area’s larger employers, who draw on a largely local workforce, as projects expand.
The focus of attention is adults in the 16 to 75 plus age range, with a particular focus on those between 25 and 50.