14 Jul UNIVERSITIES VITAL TO NATION’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING RECOVERY SAYS DAME KATHERINE GRAINGER
Dame Katherine Grainger believes UK universities are vital to the country’s post-pandemic health and wellbeing recovery, with communities across the UK benefitting from their innovative research and access to their sports facilities.
The University of Glasgow Chancellor and one of the UK’s most decorated Olympians is backing MadeAtUni: Energising Places – launched today by Universities UK (UUK) and British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) to highlight the role universities play in improving lives through sport and physical activity, following concerns over the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the nation’s activity levels.
Innovations showcased in the campaign include work by Oxford Brookes University to increase activity levels of children with neurological conditions, and ‘Snacktivity’ – a mobile app developed by Loughborough University to tackle obesity and call for changes to food labelling to highlight the link between physical activity and calories.
The campaign also features partnerships between universities and professional football clubs in their communities, including Edge Hill University in Liverpool and Everton in the Community, and the University of Aberdeen and Aberdeen FC Community Trust.
Dame Katherine said: “Many people know that universities develop some of our greatest Olympians and Paralympians, but there is an untold story about their work in local communities that improves peoples’ lives through sport and physical activity.
“The pandemic has disrupted all areas of life, and our physical and mental wellbeing has suffered a great deal. The role universities play in bringing communities together to get fitter, healthier and happier will be more important than ever in the months and years ahead as we emerge and recover from Covid-19.”
From 2016 to 2018 universities invested £350 million in their sports facilities, and with traditional leisure opportunities threatened by the pandemic’s economic fallout, campuses and university staff are well placed to support government efforts to get the nation active again.
Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, President, Universities UK, added:
“For years universities have been improving the nation’s health and wellbeing through their science, research and community-led projects, including public use of sports facilities. Prior to the pandemic over 80% of university sports facilities were being used by local grassroots clubs, and we want to make it clear to government that universities can help resolve the pandemic’s impact on physical activity levels by filling gaps left by the closure of traditional leisure facilities.”
MadeAtUni: Energising Places is a partnership between Universities UK and BUCS, who represent 90,000 student athletes across the UK. It is estimated that over 725,000 students volunteer in their local communities every year, including many from university sports teams and societies.