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Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, at the official opening of the Emirates Arena

“Our velodrome coaching sessions are booked up months in advance. We can absolutely trace that to the Olympics”

Shape Up, to name but a few. We deliver those within Glasgow, but also help the NHS to deliver them outside of Glasgow. “Our GP referral programme is very successful, with about 4,500 individuals referred to us every year. A high percentage of those then convert to membership at the end of the scheme: we offer a discounted membership to encourage them to maintain their new, healthier lifestyle. When we launched the scheme, we visited every GP practice in the city – Glasgow Life and the NHS together, making a joint pitch to the GPs and the practice nurses – and we continue to work very closely with them. We’ve seen a significant uplift in the number of people being referred to us, including for mental health problems. “There’s still work to do at a national

level though, addressing the issue of QOF points so GPs are recognised for referring to exercise, and ensuring the benefits of activity are incorporated into GP training in the first place. “We also have our ACES programme, which works with about 26,000 children with serious obesity. As with our GP referral programme, it’s entirely bespoke to each individual, and encompasses activity, nutrition, counselling. And at the other end of the age range, we work with Glasgow Housing Association to offer programmes like Silver Deal Active – a range of easy exercise and arts classes for older residents delivered in residential centres, church halls, care homes, etc.

“Our aim now is to scale up these

interventions so we can deliver outcomes at a population level, rather than just among a few thousand people. We never rest on our laurels – we’re always looking to move programmes on.”

Activity legacy So returning to the idea of growing the pie, how has Glasgow fared in that respect recently? Certainly perceptions of the city among outsiders are, I venture, of a very sedentary population with huge health challenges and social inequalities. But as Garrett explains, the picture isn’t all doom and gloom: “We certainly face tough challenges. Glasgow has some of the poorest health indicators in the country, and the economic conditions have been tough – we’ve had to cut £10.5m from our budget in the last three years, and need to save about another £5m in the next two. But we’ve met these challenges without closing facilities or making any compulsory redundancies. “Glasgow itself is also an exciting place to be at the moment, with a lot of new development and a real buzz about the place. It was even voted one of the top 10 cities in the world for sport recently, based on a range of criteria including not only provision but also participation. “Off the back of the Olympics, we saw

increased attendance and participation of around 10 per cent across the city – not just at our facilities, but also at local sports clubs. Some sports, such as those

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in which Scots did particularly well – Andy Murray in the tennis, for example, and Sir Chris Hoy in the velodrome – have seen even more of an uplift. Our velodrome coaching sessions at the Emirates Arena are booked up months in advance. We can absolutely track that back to the Olympics. “We’re now focusing on the 2014 Commonwealth Games. We’ve been working on that legacy project for a couple of years, because it’s not just about increasing participation after the Games but also in the run-up. We’re focusing heavily on getting coaching standards up to scratch, making sure the capacity’s in place and so on.

“The experience of hosting the Games will build valuable competencies among our staff and others working in this sector. That skill set will be a part of the Commonwealth Games legacy, and we’re very much hoping it will help in Glasgow’s bid to host the 2018 Youth Olympics. “The legacy’s not just about how many people come to our facilities, though – it’s a city-wide initiative, and this goes back to my comment about growing the pie generally. It’s about getting more people into local sports clubs, boosting school sport and so on. We’re very involved in sports clubs across the city, even if we don’t operate them: we work with them to source funding, improve coaching standards and create development channels for juniors. “For us, it’s about improving the city’s

overall physical activity offering – a key goal within the legacy is to ensure we don’t leave anyone behind. We’re working hard to develop a cradle-to-grave offering that gets us out into the hard-to-reach groups, really driving the population-wide impact we’re hoping to achieve. l

February 2013 © Cybertrek 2013

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