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Think Tank seeks ideas to get Yorkshire and the Humber active after COVID

Posted: 15th March 2021

The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s Chief Executive, Richard Stubbs is part of a Yorkshire think tank that is looking to support people to become more active and access sport across the region as part of its recovery from COVID-19.

Policy Yorkshire, the region’s dedicated think tank, is calling for evidence on how this can be achieved after research has shown that before the pandemic, physical activity levels in the region were increasing.

However, there are massive inequalities with those on low incomes and people with disabilities finding it difficult to be active on a regular basis. This is a having a serious impact on people’s mental and physical health.

With obesity a clear risk factor in contracting COVID-19 and lockdown having caused significant mental health problems, there has never been a more important time to be active. Indications over the past year suggest that people have found it more difficult to be so. There are especially serious concerns at the impact that remote learning and staying at home has had on the ability of children to access opportunities to be active through school and general play.

Richard Stubbs, Chief Executive Officer of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disproportionate impact that disease can have on parts of the population.

“In order to tackle this, there is a need to focus on creating the conditions across our communities that make it easy for everyone to enjoy better health and wellbeing. This means looking at the social, behavioural, economic and environmental inequalities within society.

“The system-wide relationships and assets across communities, public, private, academic and health sectors in our region, creates a compelling ecosystem through which we can begin to tackle health inequality.

“By collaborating, co-producing and sustaining collective effort towards a vision for enhancing the health and wealth of our communities we can improve the population’s quality of life, better prepare everyone for any future pandemics and more importantly, make a meaningful difference to how happy people in our region say they are.”

The expert working group is today (15 March) launching a call for evidence for those with an interest in the issue asking how to ensure sport and physical activity plays a full part towards healthy, prosperous and connected communities across Yorkshire and the Humber.

With the latest global evidence suggesting that there are eight policy areas that can help support people to be active, including physical education at school, good urban planning to support physical activity and clear public messaging, the group is keen to hear from respondents on the following key points:

  • What works well and not so well now in Yorkshire and the Humber in supporting and encouraging physical activity?
  • What opportunities are there to re-shape our physical, social and economic environment to better improve levels of physical activity?
  • How might we describe and measure future success in achieving these policies in Yorkshire and Humber?
  • What are the policies that matter most to support people in Yorkshire and The Humber to be as active as they can be

Policy Yorkshire is seeking written submissions in response to these questions of no longer than 2,000 words by 5pm on Friday 16th April. Submissions should be sent to or can be made online at

Policy Yorkshire will develop a series of proposals for the region’s local authorities and Mayors along with central government.

Commenting, the chair of the expert group, Nigel Harrison, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Sport Foundation, said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need for good physical and mental wellbeing into sharp focus. Boosting physical activity across our region can play a major part in helping the region to recover from the impact of the pandemic through improving public health.

“We want to gather evidence and ideas as to what tools are needed to bring about a fundamental shift in the level of physical activity across the region.  I urge all those with an interest to provide their ideas, and shape what will be an important report in supporting the future wellbeing of those living in Yorkshire.”