Olympics chief hails Birmingham’s Be Active scheme

Birmingham’s award winning Be Active scheme was singled out in a major report by Olympic chief Lord Coe as he launched a campaign to get the UK more physically active.

The scheme, offering free access to a wide range of physical activities across Birmingham, was singled out as an example of best practice in the report Moving More, Living More The Physical Activity Olympic and Paralympic Legacy for the Nation.

Moving More, Living More aims to promote physical activity across the country’s population, as part of the legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

And Be Active was one of three examples of good practice from local government that “demonstrate the firm foundation of innovation, commitment and existing good practice upon which we all can build.”

  • Be Active is a Birmingham-wide scheme designed to help everyone increase their Physical Activity by removing cost as a barrier and provide locally accessible places for people to be active and improve their wellbeing. The scheme is Public Health and Local Authority funded and offers over 50 different activities in the cities gyms, pools and community venues.
  • Be Active has now been running city-wide in Birmingham since 1st September 2009. The scheme currently has over 400,000 members from Birmingham, which represents about 1 in 3 of the entire population. This equates to 16,000 attendances per week.
  • Evaluation of the scheme has demonstrated positive impacts in terms of increasing activity levels for residents – previously 20% of Be Active members were totally inactive but 89% of these have now increased their activity levels to moderately or very active over 3 months. In addition analysis demonstrates that the scheme generates significant return on investment. The programme has won a number of awards for tackling health inequalities, partnership working and social marketing, and the independent evaluation/evidence of the scheme’s impact.
  • Following the success of the scheme, the city has now also launched the ‘Active Parks’ programme – a ‘Leisure Centre without Walls’ type approach which enables people to get active in their local parks and green spaces.

Welcoming the recognition, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing and Be Active champion, Cllr Steve Bedser, said: “Be Active exists because we recognise the need for people to be more physically active in Birmingham and the results speak for themselves.

“Since 2009, thousands of people across the city have made the most of free access to gyms, classes, swimming pools and other activities.

“Over 400,000 people have signed up for Be Active but we know there is still a lot of hard work to do. Too many people in Birmingham are still inactive and we need to identify and remove the barriers.

“We know that, for a variety of reasons, some people will never attend our gyms and leisure centres. So we’re now moving into our parks and open spaces by expanding our Active Parks programme following a very successful pilot scheme.

“The opportunities are there for people in Birmingham and it’s pleasing to see that local authorities from across the UK and indeed further afield are starting to emulate Be Active.”