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Have you got a view on the state of the sports sector? A topic you want to discuss? An opinion on an article featured in Sports Management? Write to us at: sm@leisuremedia.com

Published in Sports Management 2018 issue 1
Read on turning pages | Download PDF of this issue

Dr Helen Quirk,

Researcher in exercise psychology,

Sheffield Hallam University

As a psychologist in the area of physical activity and exercise, I was interested to read about how Westway Sports and Fitness Centre responded to the Grenfell Tower fire (Sports Management November/December 2017, p44). I believe that Westway’s response to the fire clearly highlights the significant influence that sports and fitness centres can have on their members’ wellbeing, even in the most adverse situations.

Psychologists describe resilience as the ability to ‘bounce back’ in the face of adversity. It usually describes a human characteristic, but at the group level, communities have been known to develop a culture of resilience. By opening its doors after the Grenfell Tower fire, Westway promoted community resilience by creating an environment in which people felt welcomed, connected and socially supported.

In the months following the disaster, Westway offered tangible support to the people affected by the fire in the way of shelter and facilities, but it was the emotional support and cohesive environment that broke down barriers, gave the community a sense of normality and empowered people to move forwards with their lives.

We tend to think that sports and fitness centres are places that only promote physical health, but Westway has demonstrated how being the central hub of a community can offer so much more in the way of psychological support. The Westway case study was a tragic and exceptional event, but lessons can be learned. Sports and fitness centres need to be much more than a facility; they have a responsibility to recognise and prioritise members’ needs and thereby support not only the physical, but also the social and emotional needs of the local community.

"Sports centres have a responsibility to support the social and emotional needs of the community"

Months after the Grenfell Tower fire, Westway – run by Everyone Active – continues to support the community
Months after the Grenfell Tower fire, Westway – run by Everyone Active – continues to support the community
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