The Bexley Growth Strategy highlights the continued expansion of the borough’s population with the single biggest increase expected in the 0-15 year old cohort (although the aging of the population (i.e. those over the age of 65) will also continue). Such demographic impact will variable across the borough, resulting in differing demands on provision.
The Growth Strategy outlines how up to 31,500 new homes and 17,500 new jobs can be delivered across the borough and it is essential that new and existing neighbourhoods support strong, stable and healthy communities. The importance of providing both formal leisure assets (gyms, pools etc.) alongside more informal outdoor opportunities (running, cycling etc. as considered in the next section) is well recognised. These are highlighted as vital in the response to the dramatic rise in health conditions, are essential elements of the borough’s wider social asset base and will assist in achieving short term goals that including changing unhealthy behaviours and increasing activity levels as well as long term aspirations such as a happier and healthier population and an active population which integrates exercise into its daily life.
Whilst Bexley doesn’t currently have an overall voice or forum in this area, we have however, engaged with people through our recent and current programmes, including participants, instructors and those not yet ready to become active.
At risk groups may also have advocacy groups that can be engaged with to promote physical activity and shape policy.
We will also continue this engagement with residents to inform our Strategy work and the Growth agenda.
The key messages to date have been:
- Lack of information about what opportunities are available to get active
- Fear of “not fitting in” or “not being good enough”
- Social isolation – not having anyone to go with
- Perceived lack of time to be active
We will also have the opportunity to engage with different sections of the community when we develop our physical activity strategy later in the year.