June 28, 2019
Following this Tuesday’s successful Beyond Sport UK Forum – held in partnership with Sport England – the need to authentically and urgently elevate purpose-driven business, accelerate diverse cross sector collaborations and to substantiate the transformative ‘power of sport’, rose as key to sport evidencing its true societal impact and bringing about systemic societal change.
Over the course of the day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, more than 300 leaders encompassing sport, business, government, social change, academia, development, funders and NGOs, immersed themselves in exploring solutions, approaches and unique new partnerships that would better position sport to address the crucial societal issues the UK is facing, while firmly aligning with larger global sustainable development frameworks.
Impact Hub Birmingham Co-founder and Director Immy Kaur kicked off the Forum, providing her frontline perspective and challenging everyone to think more boldly - empahsizing the need for a better understanding of the ecosystems at work in society and stressing the reality that there is ‘no such thing as a hard to reach community’.
Speaking at the event, Sport England’s Chief Executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “Our job now is to think and act anew, not to focus on existing solutions, but instead fall in love with the problems we are trying to solve. It’s now time to bring our empathy, energy and creativity to explore how we can use the power of sport to help people to overcome the barriers they face.”
Hosted by thinkBeyond Director of Strategy, Radha Balani, delegates heard from a broad range of speakers who highlighted local, national and international best practice in social and local community development through sport. And, to put words into actionable solutions, delegates participated in workshops led by subject experts focused on crucial challenges in the UK where sport is having an impact and approaches that could work to solve them.
Building on the growing 'Brand Shift', Beyond Sport Founder and President Nick Keller, led Unilever’s, Rebecca Marmot, Bloomberg’s, Alix Mills, and SAP Next-Gen’s, Ann Rosenberg, in a discussion delving into authentic and holistic ways to integrate purpose in business practices and the need for the public, private and third sectors to break down remaining silos to bring about the systemic change that would positively impact communities, customers and employees.
Then, Alexandra Chalat, Managing Director at Beyond Sport, moderated a panel showcasing the ‘Bigger Picture’ to examine the UK’s contribution to the global impact agenda. Leaders from the FA, The All England Club (Wimbledon), Sport England and Commonwealth Games Federation focused on sport’s role in helping the country meet key UN Sustainable Development Goals and the drive to evidence the collective impact of sport on social change.
While recognising that the impact on one person is crucial, a strong theme of the day and going forwards is the desire to evidence the ripple effect on communities and bring about even greater collective impact. This will come to life with the event's launch of Beyond Sport UK Working Groups to develop and spread best practice on different social issues and approaches to addressing them. Group members will include senior personnel from sporting bodies, grassroots initiatives and brands committed to sport for sustainable social change, in addition to inspirational cause-driven athletes.
Stated Keller said: "With the range of challenges facing society today, we have never needed sports’ contributions more. This seminal forum highlighted the clear thirst for impact and the real measure of success will be ongoing work. We look forward to engaging with partners and stakeholders through the Working Groups to make this happen."
Lastly, three young athletes took to the stage inspiring the audience with their hopes for the future and how they are using their platforms to bring about change in their respective sports and communities. Jasmin Akter, who captained Team England at the Street Child United Cricket World Cup, Molly Thompson-Smith, five time national lead climbing champion and Freya Levy, a current member of the UK and England wheelchair rugby 7s team. Closing out the event, Levy issued a powerful challenge, “Empower young people. Someone willing to listen puts a fire in your belly to go out and make change.”