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Sport: Public Health

Volume 643: debated on Tuesday 19 June 2018

There is a strong body of evidence on the health benefits of participating in sport— possibly not watching it, if last night is anything to go by. Last year, a review by Sport England brought together evidence to show the association between sport and physical and mental wellbeing.

As the Minister may be aware, I co-chair the all-party parliamentary group for golf—a sport sometimes labelled, rather unfairly, a good walk spoiled. Does he agree that there are many positive health benefits associated with participation in golf, especially for people with long-term conditions?

I certainly would, as someone who used to work in the golf industry before coming to the House. I was at Wentworth last month for the PGA, and a good example of what my hon. Friend refers to is a social enterprise that I met called Golf in Society led by an inspirational chap called Anthony Blackburn. He founded a project at Lincoln Golf Centre that works with people with dementia and Parkinson’s disease to show that golf is one of the best leisure activities out there, and gives people with those long-term conditions a sense that their life is not over and that they can still play golf, and play it rather well—probably better than me.

In 2016, Stoke-on-Trent was the European city of sport, but it faces some of the highest health inequalities in the country. The Stoke newspaper The Sentinel highlighted the power of exercise in its recent NHS SOS campaign. Will the Minister meet the editor Martin Tideswell and my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Gareth Snell) to receive details of that incredibly important local campaign?

I am aware of that campaign. Something that we want to see in schools across the country, including in Stoke, is the Golden Mile. I see good examples in schools in my constituency and across the country when I travel. We are interested to learn more about what Stoke has done on this subject.