Oxford City Council’s Sport and Physical Activity team have recently achieved the highest possible rating of ‘Outstanding’ from Sport England’s national benchmarking scheme, Quest.
Quest assesses local authority sport and leisure teams across the UK.
Amongst the five teams nationally to have attained this, Oxford City Council is the first District Authority to reach this level.
The assessment, called Quest: Stretch, allows facilities, organisations and teams to better demonstrate their impact on local communities and delivery of local priority outcomes. The team were also checked on how they perform on various themes such as Working in the Community, Diversity and Inclusion and Getting the Inactive Active
The accolade was achieved through a huge team effort, where colleagues collaborated across the Council, demonstrating the work of the wider Active Communities team area through Green Space development, Youth Ambition, Community Centres, and Leisure services as well as work within the Communities Team. All teams work with a number of local partners on these shared objectives and could not achieve the outcomes they have without this strong collaborative approach.
The assessment took place across two days and two months. Day one of the assessment was completed in November 2018 in which the team had to achieve a rating of ‘excellent’ in order to follow onto day two. That took place in January 2019 with the result formally approved and announced over the past few weeks.
The achievement follows several years of continuous improvement and the team are focused on continuing to improve the services delivered to meet the needs of our communities. This includes ensuring that services are inclusive and have diverse representation as well as helping to support those who are inactive and those experiencing the greatest health inequalities to become more physically active and experience all the benefits that exercise brings.
Although Oxford residents on average have a similar life expectancy to the national average, there are geographical inequalities. Men from the least deprived areas of the city can expect to live 9.7 years longer than those in the most deprived areas.
The City Council’s Sport and Physical Activity team works closely with communities and partners to deliver a wide range of projects and activities to get Oxford residents active. These include GO Active, Youth Ambition, Forest Schools, Social Rounders, Ping! Oxford, Parks Tennis, Street Sports, and through developments such as Oxford Sports Park and Rose Hill Community Centre.
Councillor Louise Upton, Board Member for Healthy Oxford, Oxford City Council, said: “We are all very proud of this tremendous achievement. The City Council has a team of dedicated officers who work across a variety of initiatives that encourage people to be more active, get out in to our parks and to meet people. Being active is so important to staying in good health – both mentally and physically. We try hard to engage people across the whole city, focussing particularly on areas where health outcomes are currently poor. There is something for everyone, from gentle ‘health walks’ outdoors to get people started, to Zumba classes that really get you sweating! But a common thread that runs through them is that it is not just about exercise, it is also about interacting with other people – exercise needs to be fun if we want people to stick with it. I am really pleased that Sport England have recognised the huge amount of time and effort put in by our Sport and Physical Activity team.”
Paul Brivio, Chief Executive for Active Oxfordshire, said: “ We value our partnership with Oxford City Council highly because of the quality and range of their work. The investment in people and places that has been made over a period of time has made a huge contribution to a significant increase in activity levels across the City. There is a real focus on improvement and learning in the team we work with and I am sure there is more to come. Well done Oxford!”
Caroline Constantine, Company Director of Right Directions, said: “Congratulations to Oxford City Council, Stretch is our most gruelling assessment and really puts teams through their paces. The team at Oxford City Council have had to demonstrate to lead assessors that they run an exceptional service for the local community, this is no mean feat when money and resources are tight.”