Sheffield City Trust Highlights Plans for the Year Ahead

Whilst 2021 has been another difficult year, there remains real optimism for 2022.  As with many businesses across the country, the leisure industry has suffered from operational restrictions, rising costs and significant staffing shortages.  That said, as we head towards January, I’m confident that, once again, Sheffield’s resilience will shine through.  Our staff teams are ready to support the people of Sheffield to turn their good intentions into a healthy habit and will do everything we can to continue to provide safe and enjoyable experiences across our leisure and entertainment venues.

Please allow me to publicly thank the amazing staff teams across all of our venues for their determination, resilience and flexibility that they have shown time and again over these last two years.  When faced with such challenging circumstances they have tackled it head on, finding solutions that have provided all our customers with safe, welcoming and enjoyable experiences.  Our highly experienced colleagues, local to Sheffield and many of whom have worked for Sheffield City Trust for decades, have been supporting national bodies to manage through the crisis and provide expert guidance in interpreting regulations on the ground.

The pandemic, however, has not only affected our industry but the nation as a whole and our communities, having an unprecedented impact on physical activity levels across the board. A recent survey by Sport England showed an alarming increase of inactive adults taking part in less than an average of 30 minutes exercise a week.  This brings the total number of inactive adults in England to 12.3m, over a quarter (27.1%) of the total population. Children’s activity levels have also decreased with less than 45% of children and young people meeting the Chief Medical Officer guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more a day.

Significantly, the pandemic has also led to an increase in health inequalities across our city.  It’s really important for Sheffield City Trust, as a local health and wellbeing charity, to work for the good of all the people of our city.  Our plans for 2022 are therefore focussed on getting people more active, looking at new ways to engage with key groups in the community and supporting the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the people of Sheffield.  We will continue to work, not just in our venues, but in the communities around and between them in partnership with community led organisations.

We’re working with lots of community organisations across the city to increase participation in activities; for example, with Sheffield Carers and Young Carers we have provided ice skating experiences and discounted access to our venues to provide them with valuable ‘me-time’ away from their caring responsibilities.

Our long-standing programmes supporting individuals living with long-term health conditions (Exercise Referral) and with Care Home residents, initially moved to a fully remote delivery model at the beginning of the pandemic have now returned to our venues and are seeing continued growth.  Our work with local NHS partners on Long-Covid recovery programmes and activities aimed at specifically supporting mental health conditions is gathering pace as demand continues to increase into 2022.

We’re also continuing to support organisations adjust to new requirements created by the pandemic.  The world of work has altered significantly.  Working in Burngreave, we provided guidance and support to Reach Up Youth providing valuable employability skills training, resulting in many job offers for young people starting out in tricky times.

We also recognise the importance to mental wellbeing of attending events including music gigs and sporting events.  We have a huge programme of concerts planned across the Utilita Arena Sheffield and Sheffield City Hall as well as sports events from local club galas to international competitions across our sports venues.  We will also continue to cheer the successes of all our resident teams including the Sheffield Steelers and Sheffield Sharks.

It is clear that, as we head towards 2022, this organisation and our communities will face more challenges in the years ahead. But there are reasons to be very optimistic.  Sheffield City Trust will continue to be here for all, supporting individuals to access activities that improve their health and wellbeing whether that’s working with partner organisations, in one of our venues or in a community setting.

We are very excited by and fully support the ambitious plans to invest in new facilities over the next 10 years recently unveiled by Sheffield City Council.  They will build on the existing achievements Sheffield has delivered: the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics saw Sheffield-based athletes, training at EISS and Ponds Forge bring home nearly 30 medals.  Sheffield’s very own Peter Hallam (PJ) won silver at the British Figure Skating Championships in the Senior Men singles category in December; all from the first tentative steps on the ice at IceSheffield over 18 years ago.  With the Beijing Winter Olympics only a few short months away, we look forward to seeing more triumphs that Sheffield-based athletes have in store for us.

But before that, I would like to wish everyone a peaceful and healthy break and may the New Year bring you all happiness and health.

Andrew Snelling, Chief Executive, Sheffield City Trust