Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard replaces Inclusive Fitness Initiative

Sport England has launched a new assessment to replace the Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) and support leisure operators in providing more inclusive and accessible physical activity opportunities for people from different inequality groups.

The Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard can be undertaken stand alone or as part of Quest, Sport England’s continuous improvement tool for leisure, which measures how well a facility is operating and how effective organisations are across a range of different areas.

Co-written with Activity Alliance, Tackling Inequalities will help facilities assess how they plan, communicate and serve the local community to help them become more physically active. It focuses on five key inequality groups including people from lower socio-economic groups, people with long-term health conditions, culturally diverse communities, disabled people and socially excluded groups.

If management choose to go for the Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard as part of Quest Plus, the centres will complete two modules. On day one, the Tackling Inequalities module considers evidence such as strategies based on local needs and priorities, accessible activities, partnership working, reviews, training and resourcing, as well as demonstrating the impact made in tackling inequalities. On day two, operators will complete Accessible Facilities, an assessment of the facility from a user’s perspective against key inclusive focal points, including the provision of accessible changing rooms, working hearing loops and other inclusive equipment, to help facilities meet their design and operational obligations for different user groups. To achieve the Standard, operators must score Very Good in both modules. Further elements linked to Tackling Inequalities (Workforce & Venue Accessibility) are also covered in other day one modules, as well as part of the Quest Mystery Visit.

Sarah Maxwell is Head of External Accreditations for Right Directions, which manages the scheme on behalf of Sport England as part of Moving Communities. She explains: “IFI was focused on disability and long term health conditions, which are now integrated into all aspects of Quest. Through the Tackling Inequalities module we have widened the categories to include more of the local population – it’s more holistic and a lot more fit for purpose, assessing whether a facility is set up to serve a wide ranging and diverse community.

“Do you know the demographics of your area? Do you know the profile of your current customer base and staff members? Is there a synergy between your area and your users? And, if not, what can you do with your products, programmes, services, stakeholder engagement, staff training and communications to make them more inclusive to the community you are supposed to serve? For instance, programming that’s not all focused on fat burning – how about Tai Chi for older people, Mums and Tots classes and even offering a carer card to enable easier access to activity for people and their carers?”

The new Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard will complement the ongoing work of Activity Alliance in its aim to improve the way organisations think and act upon disabled people’s experiences, and to support facilities to include more disabled people in sport and activity.

Ray Ashley, Director of Partnerships at Activity Alliance says: “The new Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard sees inclusion fully embedded in Quest, which will crucially enable leisure centres to think about inclusion in a more holistic way. By offering our experience, learning and resources through the new modules, we can continue in supporting the sector to break down barriers to being active, which have existed for far too long.”

To support the new Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard, Activity Alliance has created a helpful new resource for leisure operators. The new factsheets provide clear and simple guidance, useful resources and top tips on how the leisure workforce can embed better inclusive practices within facilities and programmes. This includes leisure centre and gym managers, facility management teams, marketing specialists and many others. View Activity Alliance’s new leisure factsheets here.

To find out more about the Tackling Inequalities in Leisure Standard as part of Quest or as a standalone assessment contact Sarah Maxwell at or call 01582 840098.

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