Dear Prime Minister... please protect our sport and play

Young Changemakers who sit on children's charity the Youth Sport Trust's Youth Board have made a rallying call to the Prime Minister ahead of the autumn budget to address a growing national crisis of young people's health and wellbeing.

In an open letter addressed to the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP issued today, they wrote:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to ask for your support in addressing a national crisis. While we know that fixing the economy will be at the top of your to-do list as Prime Minister, we are very concerned about another crisis which could cause just as much damage if it is not tackled.

As members of the Youth Sport Trust’s youth board, we passionately believe that every young person should have the opportunity to enjoy sport and play. Sport has empowered us all to become Changemakers and has provided a community that has been an anchor in many of our lives. We know first-hand how valuable it has been in helping us develop and grow – building our confidence, leadership skills and a sense of belonging in an uncertain world.

We speak on behalf of young people across the UK when we say that we are extremely worried at how many are missing out on something that should be part of every childhood. Less than half of young people are physically active for 60 minutes every day, as the Chief Medical Officer recommends.

Provision of after-school sport is inconsistent, and the Youth Sport Trust’s new research has found that many families are having to pay for it. We are worried this could lead to more and more young people missing out as parents are forced to find savings in the difficult months ahead.

We fear that without urgent action, the crisis in young people’s health is likely to get worse. Time for PE is still being reduced in many schools and there are big inequalities in young people’s access to sport and physical activity which grew during the pandemic. This risks storing up big problems for the future of the country if millions of young people grow up unhealthy, unhappy and unable to fulfil their potential in life. Like the Lionesses, who inspired us and so many others this summer, we believe that all young people should be provided with a minimum of two hours per week of PE at school.

Importantly, opportunities to stay active and enjoy sport should be something that every young person has access to, regardless of their gender, background, age or a disability.

We were really pleased to hear about the pledge you made in July to ensure that sport and physical activity are not pushed out of the school day. We are writing now to urge you, ahead of the autumn budget, to make good on your promise to the Lionesses and continue to invest £320 million into the Primary PE and Sport Premium and School Games funding for the next academic year.

Now would be the perfect time to rebuild the life chances of a generation with a national ambition for every young person to be active for 60 minutes every day. We hope you agree that instilling a love of being active would not only improve young people’s lives now but would also boost the economy in the future by supporting the development of skills that are important for work, and preventing some of the illnesses and diseases associated with inactivity which cost the NHS so much to deal with.

The Youth Sport Trust works with thousands of schools across the country to harness the power of play and sport in children’s education and development. There are many great examples of what can be achieved when schools are supported to improve PE and school sport. This includes the work our charity has done with several schools in your constituency of Richmond, training teachers, partnering with Richmond School to deliver inclusive sport across the region, and providing over 42,000 opportunities for young people in North Yorkshire to compete in the School Games.

We are sure that you would agree that the opportunity to participate in sport and develop a love of being active for life should be something every young person in the UK gets to enjoy. We would be delighted to meet with you to discuss how we and the Youth Sport Trust could support you to achieve this important aim.

Yours Sincerely,

Lipa Nessa, Chair, Youth Sport Trust Youth Board; Jess Lonen; Katie Allen; Anastasia Blease; Jemima Browning; Otto Chilton; Dylan Conti; Elodie Fleet; Keziah Gilbert; Chloe Jordan; Kieran Matthews; Kieran Spencer; Abhishna Yogarajan.

Published on 3 November 2022