We has responded to the Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government Draft Outcomes Framework consultation. The framework sets out nine overall outcomes and paints a picture of the kind of society the Executive will work towards.
We responded to six of the nine outcomes where they relate to leisure services and the social enterprise sector.
- Our children and young people have the best start in life. Welcoming this outcome, GLL highlighted the link between the practices we promote among young children and the health and wellbeing of our future adult population. We recommended a standalone key priority area on Early Years Sport and Leisure to build the promotion of healthy active lifestyles from a young age into policy, including a swimming programme to ensure all children learn to swim by the age of 11.
- We live and work sustainably- protecting the environment. We welcomed the inclusion of Active and Sustainable Transport within this outcome. As employees return to the office in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, we believe building active travel into normal life will improve both the physical and mental health of the population and have a direct impact on current health pressures.
- We have an equal and inclusive society where everyone is valued and treated with respect. As a social enterprise, we are conscious of our role in tackling social deprivation, getting people into fruitful and promising careers and enacting positive change in the areas that need it most. We believe, however, that all businesses should be encouraged to build community benefits into their business model and therefore recommended a clear commitment within the draft outcomes framework to enshrine a Social Value Act into law.
- We all enjoy long, healthy lives. As a leisure provider that exists to support people to lead healthy, active lives we are in full support of this outcome. Given the crippling pressure on the health service, GLL’s health intervention programmes will be key to tackling growing waiting lists going forward and easing pressures on the health system. We recommended that policymakers look to these existing avenues, such as our cancer, cardiac and mental health intervention services as an effective way of managing the public health crisis in the months and years to come.
- Everyone can reach their potential. Supporting everyone in society to reach their full potential is key to our work across Belfast. We seek to bring those who are economically inactive into the workforce through our Leisure Employment Academy and support young athletes, who often have no other access to sports funding, to compete at national and international levels through the GLL Sports Foundation. We therefore welcomed this outcome and advised that it can be achieved in partnership with existing leisure services.
- We have a caring society that supports people throughout their lives. GLL’s programming is set up to tackle disadvantage and care for all of society, including those living in poverty, people with disabilities, those battling physical and mental health conditions and our ageing population. Leisure facilities and the social enterprise sector can contribute to this outcome through programmes like Club Games, by reducing prices for our senior members and those living in poverty and by ensuring our facilities are fully accessible for those with disabilities.
While GLL is broadly supportive of the Programme for Government Draft Outcomes Framework, we believe the Covid-19 pandemic places an onus on policymakers to use our existing services to address the growing health and economic crises Northern Ireland is facing. As a social enterprise, we exist to enact change on the ground and make a difference in people’s lives, both in times of need through our health intervention programmes and as a preventative measure. In a world permanently changed by Covid-19, we believe all areas of business have a part to play in tackling economic and health issues and advised that the Programme for Government ensures that all companies are challenged to bring value to their local communities.