Tackling inequalities - creating an active society

Thursday 9th May 11:55 - 12:45

We live in a nation which has rising levels of obesity, mental illness, age related conditions, and an ageing and diversifying population, often living with multiple long term conditions – where huge health inequalities exist. There is a response that we can all make and that is to increase our physical activity. Everybody active, Everyday as Public Health England’s strategy outlined.

The World Health Organisation is seeking to reduce the global prevalence of inactivity by 15% by 2030. WHO estimates that more than one quarter of the population isn’t getting enough physical activity. High income countries like the UK are among the least active – with inactivity levels in 2016 were 36% overall - 32% of men and 40% of women.

As we lead increasingly sedentary lives a population scale transformation is required.

To achieve this change inequalities in opportunities to be active must be addressed - we know that the inactive are more likely to be women, older, unemployed, less educated or those living in area where the population is predominantly from a lower socioeconomic group.

Prevention cannot be solved by the health and social care system alone – a whole systems approach is required. This not only means connecting local services and organisations to influence physical and social environments - everyone has a part to play in activating the nation – but moreover considering the intended and unintended consequences of our actions and seeking out leverage points that will transform the way the system works further down track.

But how can we make population scale change? - creating active communities, active citizens, active environments and active systems – is a systems approach the silver bullet?

A systems approach sees a long term vision creating better connections, co-ordination and collaboration between those responsible for transport, public spaces, health and social care, education to remove barriers and improve inclusivity – to create happy, healthy and active citizens.

Sport England have invested £100 million in 12 Local Delivery Pilots to explore these very issues – and address stubborn inequalities and break down barriers to people getting active.

This session will explore how we can move beyond aspirations to ensure practical steps are taken to activate the whole of society.


Professor Robert Copeland, Director, Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre and NCSEM Sheffield at Sheffield Hallam University

Dr James Steele, Reseach Director at UKactive and Solent University


Hayley Lever, Strategic Manager at GM Moving

Dr Mike Brannan, National Lead for Physical Activity at Public Health England

Chris Perks, Executive Director of Local Delivery at Sport England

Cllr David Jeffels, North Yorkshire County Council and member of our Culture, Tourism and Sport Board at Local Government Association

Steven Rose, Deputy Chief Executive at The Active Wellbeing Society