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Tanni Grey-Thompson: Westminster must provide same urgency for health of the nation that it does for Brexit

By Tom Walker    30 Oct 2019
Dame Tanni said that the UK's inactivity crisis has only deepened since the EU referendum / ukactive

The time has come for Westminster to provide the same urgency and focus for the health of the nation as it does for Brexit, according to Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The Paralympic legend and chair of ukactive said that the UK's inactivity crisis has only deepened since the EU referendum.

She added, however, that while parliament might be in danger of being consumed by the Brexit chaos, there are encouraging signs that it is beginning to take physical activity – and the benfits it can deliver – seriously.

Speaking in an interview in the October 2019 issue of HCM, Dame Tanni said: "While Brexit has been soaking up a lot of people’s time, I’ve found MPs have been very open to talking about physical activity.

"I talk to them about changing people’s lives, about people’s personal experiences of physical activity. It’s obviously a much happier topic for conversation than Brexit!

"Now we need the political agenda to provide the same urgency and focus for the health of our nation as it does for Brexit.

"There are lots of things we can’t change in the wider world of politics, and I don’t know what Brexit will bring, but we’re talking to the Department for Education, DCMS and lots of other departments we haven’t talked to before.

"We’ve developed as an organisation and people are seeing us in a different light. We’re sitting at tables that two years ago we wouldn’t have been at.

"Crucially, though, you can never sit back and say ‘yeah, we’ve got it now, it’s all sorted’. With each change of government, each change of minister, you have to keep working on those relationships. We have to keep going – to be ready to take on whatever comes our way and keep talking about what an amazing job our members do.

"The other important thing to recognise is that it’s very easy to get caught up in the parliamentary work. Yes, that’s where lots of decisions are taken – but equally, lots of decisions are taken at a local authority level.

"The conversations we have with the Local Government Association are massively important, as is our partnership with Sport England.

"But we don’t know what the next year in politics will bring.

"We need to concentrate on the things we can influence. Of course, there’s always so much we could do – and a temptation to try and do it all, but we’ve identified three pillars where we feel we can deliver the greatest value and where we’ll be focusing our efforts and these are: children and young people, workplace wellbeing, and active ageing."

• To read the full interview in the October 2019 issue of HCM, click here.

Tanni Grey-Thompson  physical activity  EU referendum  brexit 
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