DD2359 Sport Unites Workforce Programme

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
29 July 2019
Decision by: 
Emma Strain, Interim Executive Director of Communities & Intelligence

Executive summary

Sport Unites is the Mayor’s £5.8m three-year community sport investment programme designed to help London become the most active and socially integrated city in the world. The programme, approved under cover of MD2244, also approved delegated authority to approve detailed expenditure proposals and the delivery approach of individual themes of the Sport Unites programme.

The Workforce and Capacity Building stream will support those who deliver community sport in London, ensure we are up to speed with digital innovation in the sector, tracking the impact of our work and helping those on the ground do the same and provide guidance and leadership to the sector.

This decision seeks approval to enter into a funding agreement of up to £500,000 with London Sport, to deliver the Workforce element of the Workforce and Capacity Building stream in line with the above.


That the Executive Director of Communities and Intelligence approves:

Expenditure of up to £500,000 in the form of grant funding to London Sport (comprising of £150,000 in 2019/2020 and £350,000 in 2020/2021) to deliver the Workforce element of the Workforce and Capacity Building stream of Sport Unites.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Sport Unites

Sport Unites is the Mayor’s £5.8m three-year community sport investment programme designed to help London become the most active and socially integrated city in the world. The programme, approved under cover of MD2244, launched in March 2018 and is structured as follows:

• Theme One: Sport for Social Integration.
• Theme Two: Active Londoners.
• Theme Three: Workforce and Capacity Building.

Also approved within MD2244 was delegated authority to approve detailed expenditure proposals and delivery approach of themes two and three via a director’s decision form(s).

A fourth theme, Young Londoners Fund, was subsequently approved in March 2018 under cover of MD2265.

Workforce sits within Theme 3 of Sport Unites. This theme comprises workstreams that underpin, enable and support the initiatives delivered in other workstreams within the programme:

• Workforce: supporting those who deliver community sport in London, so they can do what they do best that is finding and keeping people active and involved in sport and physical activity for improved health, wellbeing, connections and relationships.
• Sport Tech: making sure we are up to speed with digital innovation in the sector, discovering and using great ways of engaging Londoners in an active lifestyle with a particular focus on how we can support community sport and social prescribing.
• Monitoring & Evaluation: keeping track of the impact of our work and helping those on the ground do the same.
• Thought Leadership: providing guidance and leadership to the sector; sharing best practice in sport for social integration through research, case studies and the work of community change-makers.


For this work, ‘workforce’ refers to people who deliver community sport and those who work with the people and communities the Sport Unites programme will serve – rather than the wider sporting industry staff, such as hospitality or security staff at sports events. They may be youth workers, PE (Physical Education) teachers, social workers and referral services. It includes those who operate in the sector in both a paid and voluntary capacity, and people who work in traditional and non-traditional ways to make a positive difference in the way that sport and physical activity feature in Londoners’ lives.

Amongst the workforce, Sport for Social Integration – using sport intentionally to tackle issues such as isolation and loneliness, prejudice and negative stereotyping, division and lack of trust within and amongst communities, and poor mental health – requires more than certification or coaching/teaching expertise. Research by London Sport indicates that more than 90% of Londoners engaging in sport or physical activity value ‘softer, warmer skills’ above technique, and seek a workforce that is motivating, friendly, non-judgemental and adaptive.

This does not negate the contribution of the professional sporting workforce: rather, it shows the need to augment and support their existing technical skillset with understanding, buy-in, engagement, learning and communication around inactivity and social integration challenges.

London Sport

London Sport is an independent charitable organisation established to help make London the most physically active city in the world. It is one of 45 County Sports Partnerships (CSPs) in England – networks of local agencies, staffed by a central team, who receive core funding from Sport England to develop and maintain a detailed understanding of physical activity and sport at a local and regional level.

The GLA works closely with London Sport in a number of areas: they deliver our Major Events Engagement Fund under MD 2353 and our Clubworks programme, aimed at increasing the capacity of sports clubs in London; they help publicise our funding programmes to their networks; and they provide intelligence and insight for the assessment of funding applications through their knowledge and networks at Borough level.

Additionally. London Sport helps set the strategic direction for the London physical activity and sport sector, by developing a bigger and better workforce to support efforts to get more Londoners into regular physical activity. It signposts to training, development and learning opportunities for coaches and volunteers looking to improve their skills. It also provides advice, support and guidance to the sector on how to effectively recruit, develop and mobilise their workforce. As such its vision, mission and objectives are closely aligned to the Mayor’s strategy for sport and physical activity in London ‘Sport for all of us’ and Sport Unites.

Due to the closely aligned objectives between the Sport Unites programme and London Sport, and the unique positioning/skills of London Sport, we wish to provide grant funding up to the value of £500,000 to support their delivery of a workforce programme. London Sport will enter into their own funding agreements with a number of partner organisations who are experts in delivering sport for social integration community-based initiatives. London Sport will co-ordinate the activities of these partners and collate and analyse the project learnings, while the partner organisations manage delivery (communications, recruitment, training, etc.) on the ground.

London Sport has received Expressions of Interest from a number of well-qualified potential delivery partners wishing to carry out a programme of work to develop a broader and better sporting workforce, while at the same time using sport and physical activity to create a more socially integrated London. London Sport will take ownership of and deliver a workforce programme which shares our vision, mission and objectives. The grant funding provided under the workforce programme will:

• Fund the engagement, training and leadership development of at-risk young Londoners in the community sport workforce, identifying and facilitating routes into their further education, employment and retention in the sector;
• Support national governing bodies and other sport and non-sport agencies/organisations in demonstrating, learning, adopting and sharing good/best practice in achieving positive social outcomes through sport and physical activity in London; and
• Help celebrate, make more visible and extend the work of inspirational coaches and other members of London’s community sport workforce – this may include, for example, providing opportunities for convening, networking, mentoring, curriculum development and succession planning.

Objectives and expected outcomes

This workforce programme aims to make quality and impactful interventions. The programme is intended to directly benefit around 2,000-2,500 members of the workforce in London, with a view to scaling up successful initiatives in the future dependent on funds. Benefits will include improved knowledge among the workforce of sport for social integration; improved leadership skills; improved confidence in delivering sport for positive social outcomes; increased opportunities to showcase/advocate for sport for social integration and share best practice; increased organisational capacity as a result of engagement in the programme. Beneficiaries will include individuals, organisations and agencies already active in the community sport workforce, and those who have an interest in, and potential to, become part of a bigger and broader workforce – paid and volunteer, and traditional (e.g. coaches and PE teachers) and non-traditional (faith groups, housing associations, emergency services, etc)

The workforce programme will identify, fund and support, recognise, promote and develop the good work already happening amongst the existing community sport workforce; bringing new members of the workforce into the fold and helping them on their journey; and taking a strategic partnership role in bridging gaps and nudging positive change in the sport for social integration landscape.

The workforce workstream was scoped via an external consultancy assignment (approved under cover of ADD2258) and further refined and developed by a Sport Unites Workforce Advisory Group and internal round-table discussions. It comprises three main strands, each of which will link to and complement one another, so that the overall programme delivers greater value by evolving to create a core, trusted workforce network for knowledge-sharing, individual and collective development, and mutual support. London Sport, in particular the member of staff responsible for learning and co-ordination will, as experts in their field, be involved in the development of the specifics of the programme delivery plan. This is anticipated to have the following likely shape but will be worked up in more detail with London Sport:

• Programme 1: Sport Unites Mayor’s Young Leaders & Apprenticeship programme. A volunteering-into-employment training and ‘mobilisation’ programme for a cohort of at-risk young Londoners with leadership potential in the community sport workforce. Based on Expressions of Interest received, we know there is a need for a curriculum of training for 16-24 year-olds, to give them the skills required to be ‘Young Leaders’ in the community sport sector; and the additional provision of up to 10 Apprenticeships aimed at supporting and retaining beneficiaries in the sporting workforce in London.

• Programme 2: Sport Unites Mayor’s Training & Development programme. An innovative training and development programme whereby ‘ambassador’ community organisations support the traditional NGBs (National Governing Bodies) and other agencies (such as local authorities, social prescribers, referral services, the emergency services) in better understanding and achieving positive social outcomes through sport. Interested delivery partners recommend the provision of capacity-building grants and other resources/support for up to 10 community groups, to host Action Learning Visits by national governing bodies of sport and other agencies; together with the capture and sharing of curriculum and learning experiences – supporting the development of a sport for social integration ‘community of practice’ in London.

• Programme 3: Sport Unites Mayor’s List. The creation of a ‘Sport for Social Integration List’, along the lines of the ‘Football Blacklist’, which will give visibility to and celebrate inspirational change-makers in the sector and create opportunities for mentoring, curriculum development and succession planning. A number of convening and thought leadership opportunities will take place at dedicated events/gatherings, with activities embedded within or associated with Programme 2 above.

Each programme strand will align where possible with existing activity to ensure that it is not duplicating, but complementing, other relevant initiatives (for example, the European Social Fund programme, or apprenticeship funding).

Programme Objectives

The ultimate objective of the programme is improved health, wellbeing and relationships in London.

The programme delivery outcome is a bigger, better and better-connected workforce (paid and volunteer) delivering sport and physical activity for social integration in London. Research conducted in summer 2017 by HPI Proactive, on behalf of London Sport and Sport England, found that ‘the current workforce meets the needs of Londoners that are active now, but a different or enhanced workforce is needed to reach, engage with and inspire less active Londoners’. In other words, to work to engage the circa 40% of Londoners who are currently considered inactive (and to retain the satisfied participation of a shifting landscape of Londoners) we need not only a greater number of community sport workers, but different workers, possessing an enhanced skillset.

Programme Delivery

To deliver on its multifaceted objectives as set out above, the workforce programme needs to ensure that gateways, training, delivery and recognition are all aligned. This will create the best possible environment within which to increase the quality and quantity of sport for social integration in London.

Such alignment can only be achieved through the drawing together of existing expertise, capacity and assets from local, cross-borough and Pan-London networks, including local authorities, statutory services, the voluntary sector and community sport and non-sport organisations. Therefore, the responsibility of London Sport will include:

• Heading up a consortium of providers with the expertise to identify and leverage the know-how, assets and networks of local organisations with a track record of delivering and supporting sport for social integration in London;
• Co-ordinating all aspects of the programme – including design, planning, promotion, recruitment and selection, curriculum development with any associated accreditation and branding, project support and resourcing, and delivery oversight/quality assurance; and
• Capturing, sharing and reporting data and learning experiences from the programme in a format/formats that can feed optimally into the wider Sport Unites monitoring and evaluation framework, to assess impact and help shape further potential investment into the sector.

Equality comments

Under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as public authorities, the GLA are subject to a public-sector equality duty and must have ‘due regard’ to the need to (i) eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; (ii) advance equality of opportunity between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not; and (iii) foster good relations between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and those who do not. Protected characteristics under section 149 of the Equality Act are age, disability, gender re-assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, and marriage or civil partnership status (all except the last being “relevant” protected characteristics).

Equal opportunities are enshrined within the Sport Unites programme and, by extension, the workforce programme, which will provide opportunities for both current and potential members of London’s community sport workforce, both traditional and non-traditional, paid and volunteer. This will be achieved by providing access to training and development that will broaden and enhance the skillsets needed to engage all Londoners in quality sporting and physical activity experiences. It will provide the opportunities to be part of a workforce that is more widely recognised and rewarded for its valuable contribution to London’s community sport landscape. This will advance equality of opportunity between persons of mixed socioeconomic statuses, who may not otherwise have access to these opportunities.

In designing and developing the programme, the GLA Sports Team has consulted stakeholders and partners to ensure that as wide a representation as possible is considered across the community sport workforce, including with the intention of including those individuals with ‘protected characteristics’ as defined in the Equality Act 2010; and that they will have the chance to be involved in some way, be that through training and qualifications, personal and professional development, paid delivery or volunteering.

Programmes will be designed for people of mixed abilities and promoted in a manner to attract participants representative of London’s diverse population. Through this specific programme design, and by the nature of groups we are working with (faith groups, housing associations etc), we will advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it, and foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

By supporting the development of a sporting workforce that is what Londoners say they want – one that is ‘just like me’ – the programme provides openly accessible opportunities for increased activity and social mixing. In this example, ‘just like me’ refers not to protected characteristics, but to situations that may restrict people from participating in sport such as anxiety barriers, concerns regarding finances, childcare, gender mixing and lack of confidence in exercising. The broadening in the sport strategy, of the Mayor’s workforce definition to embrace ‘those who operate in the sector in both a paid and voluntary capacity, and people who work in traditional and non-traditional ways’ helps to encourage involvement in the workforce by Londoners from more than one community, faith or cultural group, as well as persons who share or who do not share protected characteristics.

The Sport Unites programme is being monitored/measured by a third party who has been contracted to provide independent monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the programme. This will include the workforce programme. In particular this M&E looks into the social integration measures of the programme, all of which advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it.

Other considerations

Key risks and issues:








Recruitment: difficulty in engaging and retaining young Londoners from the relevant at-risk demographics in the community sport workforce, resulting in significantly reduced programme reach and impact. (Programme 1)

Mitigated by consultation with and ‘bottom up’ involvement of expert delivery partners in the field, together with involvement of learning and co-ordination partner leading an active steering group for ongoing programme monitoring and refinement.





Lack of capacity and/or willingness amongst host ‘Ambassador’ organisations to participate; and/or learning demand amongst agencies, resulting in incomplete action learning outcomes and reduced impact. (Programme 2)

Demand already evidenced through extensive consultation by key stakeholders and partners in London’s community sport workforce; availability of capacity-building grants and Sport Unites programme-level Monitoring & Evaluation resource to incentivise hosts and support learners.






Insufficient understanding amongst the community sport sector of the nature of sport for social integration and the desired social outcomes amongst the community sport workforce, leading to mission ‘drift’ against Mayoral strategic priorities for London. (Programme X)

GLA-led clarification of relevant social evidence base and required outcomes linked to programme-level M&E framework; existing expertise amongst delivery partners and supplementary training of key stakeholders in sport for social integration will mitigate this risk – which is inherent in the pilot nature of the Sport Unites workforce programme, learning from which will shape and inform future investment. 






Financial comments

Approval is sought for expenditure of £500,00 in grant funding to be awarded to London Sport. This grant funding is proposed to be profiled as; £150,000 in 2019-20 and £350,000 in 2020-21.

This expenditure will be funded from the Sport Unites Programme budget held within the Team London and Sports Unit.

Activity table



Completion of Funding agreement

August 2019


August 2019

Delivery Start Date

August 2019

Delivery End Date

December 2020

Project Closure:

March 2021

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