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This Girl Can helping to make leisure sector spaces safer and more inclusive for women

Our campaign is teaming up with ukactivce and CIMSPA to understand and tackle women’s safety concerns in leisure environments

We’re investing almost £500,000 of National Lottery funding into a consortium of sector partners who'll work with This Girl Can to develop resources and training that'll help leisure and fitness facilities ensure their spaces are safe and inclusive for all women.

The funding, which was announced at today’s Active Uprising conference in Birmingham, will allow us to work with The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) and ukactive to empower the sector to better understand and support women’s safety in their facilities and develop and new provide tools and support.

As part of the project, £496,000 worth of funding will contribute to:

  • Partnering with safeguarding organisations and experts from both inside and outside the sector to bring on board their expertise
  • Developing tools, training and best-practice guidance to upskill the workforce on how to deal with issues relating to personal safety as well as providing the support to enable staff to also feel safer and more confident themselves 
  • The creation of sector-wide opportunities for leisure facilities to deliver, with a core focus on supporting women to use weights areas within facilities and reduce feelings of intimidation.

These will enable women to feel assured and confident in the facilities they visit, and leisure sector workforce members to feel equipped to support women and prioritise their inclusion and safety.

Ali Donnelly, our executive director of digital, marketing and communications, said safety and harassment fears often stop women from getting active.

“These fears can undermine confidence to the point that many women are reluctant to use gyms and leisure centres,” she explained.

“Through This Girl Can we have learned a huge amount about how to help our partners make their facilities and spaces safe and welcoming for women, and this investment will provide significant support to the leisure and fitness sector to make improvements.”

“Through This Girl Can we have learned a huge amount about how to help our partners make their facilities and spaces safe and welcoming for women, and this investment will provide significant support to the leisure and fitness sector to make improvements.”

Ali Donnelly
Executive director of digital, marketing and communications, Sport England

Research has found that many women cite personal safety concerns as one of the reasons they may be reluctant to be active in gyms and leisure centres, with two thirds of women who had attended a facility saying they had taken some measure to protect themselves from sexual harassment in a fitness or leisure centre.

By improving feelings of safety and inclusion, This Girl Can, ukactive and CIMSPA hope to increase participation of women in leisure settings more broadly and, therefore, continue working towards closing the persistent gender gap in activity levels.

Steve Scales, director of membership and sector development for ukactive, said it was great to secure this additional investment into the fitness and leisure sector.

“The work of this project will not only positively impact women and girls visiting facilities, but others too, as we continue to grow and draw people from more diverse backgrounds – becoming a fully inclusive environment for everyone to feel safe, empowered and comfortable while enjoying the benefits of being active,” he added.

Tara Dillon, chief executive at CIMSPA, said it was important that women felt safe in gyms and leisure facilities.

“It’s crucial that, as a sector, we do everything we can to make sure gyms and leisure facilities are safe, welcoming and inclusive spaces for all women,” she explained. “This starts with training and education for the workforce; helping them to prevent, identify and deal with any instances of harassment. We are proud to be working on this important initiative alongside our partners at Sport England, This Girl Can and ukactive.”

This work follows last November’s joint publication of This Girl Can and ukactive’s guide to help fitness and leisure operators appeal to more women.

The ‘How to improve your services for women and girls: As told by the 51%’ guidance was based on extensive research and insight and highlighted that many women cited personal safety concerns as one of the reasons they might be reluctant to be active in gyms and leisure centres.

The guide has been downloaded more than 1,500 times by organisations within the fitness and leisure sector, with operators and providers already beg

Channel website: http://www.sportengland.org/

Original article link: https://www.sportengland.org/news/this-girl-can-helping-make-leisure-sector-spaces-safer-and-more-inclusive-women

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