On Wednesday 18 October 2023 over 180 representatives from health, leisure, local council, voluntary, sport and physical activity sectors came together at the Kent Event Centre in Detling for Active Kent & Medway’s annual conference.
The theme of this year’s conference was steered by the recently launched four year county-wide strategy for sport and physical activity Move Together. The free conference focussed on how local organisations can work together to support those who are already active, as well as tackling the inequalities that currently prevent some from enjoying the benefits that moving more can bring to their physical and mental wellbeing. According to Sport England’s latest Active Lives Adult Survey, 1 in 4 adults across the county are not active enough and more than half of children and young people are not meeting the recommended activity guidelines of 60 minutes per day. Even though there is more to be done to enable more people to become more active, there is already some great partnership working and collaboration taking place across the county to enable people across a wide range of communities to be active, stay fit and play sport. The conference, hosted by Rob Smith, former BBC South East presenter, gave delegates the opportunity to network and hear from a range of partners who shared their experiences and learnings in helping to get more people, more active across Kent and Medway.
Keynote speaker Dr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Public Health at Kent County Council delivered a thought-provoking presentation that set the scene on the challenges we face in Kent and the role that physical activity can play in addressing some of these challenges. He endorsed the whole system–based approach that the Move Together Strategy advocates for, with each and every one of us being part of the solution.
Dr Anjan Ghosh, Director of Public Health at Kent County Council said “It was a privilege to present at the conference and I’m glad the event went so well”.
Delegates heard from representatives from across the sport and physical activity sector as they took part in Q&A panel sessions with Rob Smith. Guest speakers included representatives from Gravesham Borough Council, The Grand Healthy Living Centre, a Ukrainian family group, Mencap and Sport on your Doorstep, who all shared their desire to work together to provide sport and physical activity opportunities for the local community. Representatives from NBE fitness, tm active and TKO Boxing club, also shared how their different approaches are challenging the perceptions of being active with a long term health condition or disability.
During the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity to attend up to three short briefing sessions delivered by a range of partners covering topics from funding to sustainability, workforce development and ways to engage your audience. Each briefing session lasted 30 minutes, giving speakers an opportunity to share their information and resources and answer any questions.
Rupa Sen, Medway Diversity Forum, delivered a briefing session and said “We feel honoured to have been given this opportunity to promote our projects, and hopefully, show people the benefits of collaboration. Like every year, this year’s conference was a huge success, and becoming something I look forward to attending every year”.
Clair Bell, Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, Kent County Council attended the conference and said “I was thrilled to see so many partners and local organisations with a common purpose of improving the lives of residents through the power of sport and physical activity. We all have a part to play in making this happen. Working together and combining resources will ensure we achieve the right health outcomes for all residents across Kent and in turn, strengthen our local communities”.
Liz Davidson, Active Partnership Director, said “Our annual conference allows us to showcase some of the fantastic work that is already going on across the county to get more people more active. It’s also a chance for organisations to network, collaborate and develop partnerships so that together we can ensure everyone has the opportunity to be active and in turn, feel the benefits that this can have on overall health and wellbeing. I’d like to thank the speakers, the attendees and the Active Kent & Medway team for making the day such a great success. We look forward to working with all our partners so we can continue to move together towards a healthier, more active county”.