Sheffield - Delivering the Health and Wellbeing Legacy of the 2012 Olympics

A school sports day at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield
A school sports day at the English Institute of Sport Sheffield

This month marks the 70 th anniversary of the NHS, six years since the inspirational opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games and 13 years since I sat in Singapore waiting for the International Olympic Committee to announce that London would be hosting the 2012

Olympics.

NHS services have been co-located in leisure centres – providing 80,000 clinical appointments per year.

One of the unique offers in our bid was to deliver an Olympic Legacy on health and wellbeing through the four themes of sport, economy, local community and sustainability. Sheffield has taken this on board and is the only city in the UK that has truly delivered this part of the legacy thanks to many institutions working together. With debate surrounding the next 70 years of the NHS, I felt it was time to take stock on what progress has been made. The results in the four legacy themes are quite remarkable.

Legacy for Sport

Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is the next step in the evolution of a city dedicated to using sport to become a leader in improving health and wellbeing. Playing a major role is the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) that has a vision to make Sheffield the most active city in the UK by 2020 and will be an integral part of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Through NCSEM Sheffield, the ‘Move More’ programme has been established – engaging more than 20,000 people in physical activity in schools, workplaces and communities; an Active App has been delivered – used by over 600,000 people; and NHS services have been co-located in leisure centres – providing 80,000 clinical appointments per year.

Sheffield Hallam University’s Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER), in partnership with UK Sport, the English Institute of Sport and national governing bodies, is providing technological innovations to support the performance of Team GB athletes – delivering 61 research projects for 10 Team GB sports which contributed to us winning 42 medals at Rio 2016. But it’s not just elite athletes benefitting from this outstanding venue, local community use continues to increase and we’re seeing more people, young and old, taking part in sports ranging from Athletics to Taekwondo.

Legacy for the Economy

Joining the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre, the next phase for Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park includes plans for two state-of-the-art research centres – the Centre for Child Health Technology and the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Research and Innovation Centre – and in excess of 500,000 sq ft of private sector investment in offices, laboratories and incubator centres.

These will bring substantial economic benefits and act as a catalyst for 3,465 full time jobs and 348 professional roles. Every £1 of public investment in these centres is expected to generate around £14.50 towards the economy by 2042 and £1.7bn in GVA benefits by 2042.

Legacy for the Community

The Lower Don Valley area was ripe for regeneration and Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is driving economic and social renaissance, offering improved education from Oasis Academy Don Valley through projects such as out of hours classes in healthy eating, cooking and sports; development of new skills at UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park; and additional job opportunities from the research centres, sports facilities and companies locating to the park.

Additional green spaces, access to waterways, run routes, cycle paths and a synthetic cricket pitch all provide further new opportunities in this area of the city.

Legacy for the Environment

Our plans prioritise active and sustainable travel by providing facilities for bike storage and integrating public transport stops into the park. Facilities for electric powered vehicles will be provided. The Blue Loop waterways walk connects Sheffield city centre and provides alternative access along the River Don and Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. We’ve worked closely with the Canal and River Trust to clean up the Canal and provide a

natural oasis the local community can enjoy. The local biodiversity has been enhanced to attract birds, bats, otters and wildlife back to this area.

So, were we right to focus on health and wellbeing as part of the 2012 Legacy? Could the development of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park influence the direction of the NHS for the next 70 years? Is Sheffield’s delivery of the 2012 legacy being recognised on the world stage?

In answer to all three questions, it’s a resounding YES.