Sport England and UK Sport have today committed to action across five areas which are designed to support improved safeguarding and wellbeing for everyone involved in sport.
Nineteen commitments span the areas of coaching and workforce support, performance athlete support, good governance, dispute resolution and creating safer environments for participants.
These commitments include the continued development of the Safeguarding Case Management Programme to help organisations access expert support in relation to safeguarding, Sport Integrity, the independent disclosure and investigations service, becoming mandatory for all UK Sport funded sports, and the funding of a national network of welfare officers to promote good practice and safe sport on a local level.
The full list can be found here:.
These commitments have been developed based on learnings and insight from the Whyte Review, an independent report which was co-commissioned by Sport England and UK Sport in 2020 following allegations of abuse and mistreatment in the sport of gymnastics.
The Review concluded in the summer of 2022, with its Final Report outlining a series of recommendations for the sport of gymnastics as well as highlighting areas where improvements could be made across the wider sporting system.
On publication of the Review, Sport England’s CEO Tim Hollingsworth and UK Sport’s CEO Sally Munday confirmed the two organisations would be taking time to review the report’s implications in greater detail before sharing plans for change. Today’s announcement is the next step in the work to ensure the Whyte Review is a catalyst for lasting improvement across sport.
Speaking on the commitments outlined today, Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England and UK Sport CEO Sally Munday said:
“Sport delivers so much positive impact for our society, communities and people. Whether it is the mental and physical health benefits of being active and connecting with others, enjoying live sport as a spectator or volunteer, or the inspirational moments delivered by our elite athletes, sport matters.
“Sport is precious and all organisations who have either a leadership role in sport or provide sport in this country have a responsibility to help protect and improve it for all.
Since the publication of the Whyte Review in the summer of 2022, we have been reviewing the findings and exploring how we can use them to drive improvements and better support those who organise, coach and take part in sport to ensure the best possible experience for all.
We have also been working closely with British Gymnastics to support them to make swift changes and develop their plan of reforms.”
“We have a responsibility to the gymnasts, parents, coaches and others to ensure their bravery in stepping forward and contributing to the Review doesn’t just lead to progress in their own sport but has a lasting legacy across all of sport.
“This package of reforms incorporate change in areas where we as Sports Councils have agency and jurisdiction, but we also remain in ongoing conversation with government around wider reforms in the sector.
“Today is a positive step forward, but there is a huge amount of work still to be done to ensure all sport is consistently safe, welcoming and inclusive for all.”
Responding to the announcement, Andy Salmon, CEO of British Triathlon, said:
“Organisations with leadership roles in sport have a tremendous responsibility to ensure the safeguarding and wellbeing of people taking part, but this responsibility extends to everyone involved in sport, whatever their role.
“British Triathlon welcomes these commitments and recognises them as a significant development and opportunity for positive change.”
Georgina Usher, CEO of British Fencing, said:
“Safeguarding and welfare is the foundation of every great sporting experience from participation to podium. It is vital that there is continued leadership and determination across the sector to make the necessary progress and these commitments published today will form an important part of the work we have ahead of us to ensure positive experiences for all.”
Ashley Metcalfe, CEO of British Canoeing, said:
“British Canoeing firmly believes it is an absolute priority that everyone who takes part in sport and recreational activity can do so in the safest, most enjoyable, high-quality environments. All organisations in sport at whatever level share a collective responsibility around safeguarding and welfare, as well as more general safety.
“The response from a broad range of partners following the recent Whyte Review is most positive and a great opportunity to make meaningful change.”
Adrian Christy, CEO of Table Tennis England, said:
“The safeguarding and wellbeing of people in sport is the responsibility of everyone across our sector and I am pleased to see the range of partners coming together to respond positively to the Whyte Review.
“This response provides a clear statement of intent to strengthen our sporting environment; a chance for change – let’s grasp it.”