Government recognises the importance of cross-government cooperation in considering policies which impact on the provision, access and promotion of outside spaces. There is not one single government department, which that leads on the promotion of healthier lifestyles through non-competitive outdoor recreation activities. Instead, Government departments jointly recognise the value of outdoor recreation to health, environment and education. Outdoor recreation is referenced in the Government’s new sport and physical activity strategy, which was published on 17th December 2015. Government will submit a formal annual report to Parliament, which sets out progress in implementing this strategy later this year. Individual government department’s involvement in outdoor activities is outlined below:
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
The importance of outdoor recreation is reflected in our new sport and physical activity strategy, published in December 2015. Sport England is currently working with the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) on the ‘Getting Active Outdoors’ insight report - the largest ever of its kind - to get the nation active - particularly children, pensioners and women. In the meantime, Sport England is investing over £68 million in outdoor recreation sports, including £3 million invested in the Britain on Foot campaign, to get more people hillwalking, trail running and mountaineering.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs holds policy responsibility for the legal and land-use aspects of access to the countryside (in forests, protected landscapes, on public rights of way, commons, town and village greens, open access spaces and on waterways).
The Department of Health
The Department of Health acknowledges the health benefits of being in a natural environment are significant and that it is important that children have opportunities to play in clean, secure outdoor environments. The department recognises the importance of outdoor activities and they have included an indicator on use of green space for exercise and health purposes in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. The health promotes outdoor physical activity through a variety of channels, which includes: Change4Life Sports Clubs - a programme providing indoor and outdoor non-competitive physical activity to the least active children; the 10 Minute Shake Up campaign - Change4Life teamed up with Disney to inspire children to get active with over the summers of 2014 and 2015; providing funding of over 1million to Play England for a three year project ‘Street Play’ to promote outdoor play activities; and National Institute of Care and Excellence (NICE) guidance to promoting outdoor physical activity.
The Department for Education
The Department for Education are is determined that all children lead healthy active lives. Physical Education is compulsory at all four key stages in the national curriculum for maintained schools. The programmes of study at key stages 2, 3 and 4 sets out the expectation that pupils should take part in outdoor adventurous activities. At key stage 4 these activities should take place in a range of environments and present intellectual and physical challenges. Independent research on the primary PE and sport premium demonstrates that some schools are using their funding to provide enhanced opportunities for their pupils in this area – including rock-climbing, surfing and sailing. The Department does not specifically promote non-competitive outdoor activities as teachers have the freedom to organise and deliver the curriculum to ensure it is challenging and effectively meets programme of study.
The Department for Communities and Local Government
The Department for Communities and Local Government role in outdoor recreation is community focussed. It recognises that Parks, sports grounds and other green spaces, which are shared by lots of people, holds great benefits to the health and wellbeing of local communities. We want local communities to be empowered to play a significant role in maintaining and protecting green spaces of most importance to them. The Department owns the Green Flag Award scheme, a recognised accreditation setting the national standard for parks and green spaces across the UK, which is currently run under licence by Keep Britain Tidy. The scheme awards well-managed green spaces run by the local authority and has a separate category for community managed green spaces. The Department is currently running a Pocket Parks programme to establish up to 100 pocket parks – small areas of inviting public space where people can enjoy relief from city streets. It is expected that an announcement of the successful projects will be made in February. Through the Community Right to Bid, communities are listing the parks and green spaces that are important to them. Hundreds have been listed including allotments and playing fields.