MCRactive 2020 Annual Review

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MCRactive 2020 Annual Review

So great for the UK Cheerleading Association to be mentioned by Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, in the MCRactive 2020 Annual Review. Read the full review below:

“As the year draws to a close, it’s a great opportunity for us all to reflect on the unprecedented year of 2020 to highlight and recognise the hard-work and dedication of all those responsible – this includes Officers, Ward Councillors, residents and partners who through collaboration and teamwork have made significant strides to keep our city active despite the unique challenges faced. I am proud of the progress we have made and the role you have all played to ensure that Manchester continues to be recognized as a world-class sporting city.

Cast your mind back a mere 12 months, when life felt ‘normal’ and we were yet to encounter the unprecedented trials and tribulations of 2020 both personally and professionally. Nonetheless, our sector accomplished a very productive first 3 months in sport, health and physical activity in Manchester offering a mix of diversity and engagement to suit the unique blend of individuals that make our city so great. Keeping Manchester active and healthy has been a priority for our City during the last nine months more than ever and due to COVID-19 and it’s been amazing to see how we have found new ways to support residents through online activity pushing remote provision into Manchester’s front rooms, gardens and balconies!

We commenced what we thought was an Olympic year, focused on Manchester’s Road to Tokyo and the opportunity to see the very best compete and qualify in Manchester ahead of Tokyo 2020. The year started with the HSBC UK National Track Championships and the Para Powerlifting World Cup in Wythenshawe, with plans progressing for the UCI BMX Supercross in April and the British Athletics Championship, as well as the annual hosting of the UKCA National Cheerleading Championships. As Tokyo is now set to host the Olympic Games in 2021, we have been honored to announce that in the New Year, Manchester will play host to the Manchester Open International Swim Meet in February, for the second year running the Para Powerlifting World Cup and the Youth World Cup will be held at Hough End Playing Fields as the latest in a string of international tournaments in the City.

We were pleased to welcome the Harlem Globetrotters to Manchester for an exhibition and to provide some training at the National Basketball Performance Centre. Alongside the current Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, we even welcomed Dermot O’Leary to host our World Book Day at HSBC UK National Cycling Centre. The event saw over 1,000+ local children from 15 different schools attend. It was also fantastic to enhance the delivery of sport and physical activity engagement across the City. Such examples were the offering of free health checks and activity programmes to help Manchester City fans improve their health and well-being, adding East Manchester to the city-wide programme of 9 regular weekend park runs for adults and children, and promoting the Manchester 10K with the creation of a unique Bee Wave for our City supporting the We Love MCR local charity and a world-record attempt to boot!

MCRactive continued to work closely with existing partners whilst establishing new relationships with key partners, instructors and coaches across the city to ramp up ‘at home’ fitness resources when the world changed for us all in March. In response to leisure centre’s and grassroot sports having to close their doors to users, we have offered free on demand and live streamed events into Manchester’s homes, and shared key updates across our 3 established e-letters targeting residents, clubs and health networks, benefitting all during this difficult time.

The role sport and physical activity plays to improve lives of Mancunians and bring communities and cultures together could never be more important. That is why we adapted trusted advice and guidance on the ‘what’ & ‘how’ to support and encourage Mancunians to proactively manage their well-being and ‘at home’ activity, during 2020. Additionally, MCRactive have been promoting daily messages of support, inspiration and guidance alongside COVID-19 updates across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with an initial focus on supporting Be Active at Home. This resulted in a 20% (and rising) increase in engagement that helped to grow our platforms exponentially.

To support clubs and partners with the financial pressures faced this year, our network secured £275k+ of COVID-19 funding streams this, along with supporting partners in following the most up to date practices and guidance, will help ensure that they can plan for the return to play in 2021.

As part of our emergency response to COVID-19, we opened a Rest & Relaxation Centre at Manchester Regional Arena. Many staff and partners including GLL, OCS, F3, MCFC and MCC with a steer from MHCC, played a role by volunteering and making it a collective success. The centre had 7000 visits from NHS & Key workers across Manchester who said it “benefitted them both mentally and physically” and the project received a Special Recognition Award from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester. Additional leisure assets have been and continue to be utilised as COVID Testing Centre’s such as the Etihad Campus, Denmark Road and Belle Vue Leisure Centre’s. In addition, in recent weeks the Tennis and Football Centre has been mobilised as a Mass Vaccination Centre for GM which is due to open at the beginning of January.

Our sport and health teams along with the team at Winning Hearts and Minds, have made every effort to maintain vital connections with people in our great city, from the creation of a pen-pal and befriending scheme to distributing activity and food packs to vulnerable people in the community. Overcoming the challenges posed by COVID-19, MCRactive supported MCC’s ‘All Sorts to Do’ offer during Summer and October half term by offering a range of activity including Outdoor water sports at Debdale Outdoor Centre and free Active Parks youth sessions.

As of August, we were pleased to welcome back a selection of community gyms and pools for daily lane swimming and family swims. The phased return of grassroot sports, clubs, leisure centres and other organised physical activities across Manchester was extremely well received, with users providing positive feedback on how safe they feel whilst attending, which for the most part, focused on the support and learning they received regarding the new processes in place, echoing the reassurance measures we championed across social media.

We’ve been pleasantly surprised since the return of the Manchester School Swimming Programme in September, 78% of the schools returned following consultation over the Summer period where we worked with all 5 pool operators (GLL, Everyone Active, Love Withington Baths, Broadway Community Development Group and Wright Robinson High School) to ensure the sessions could be delivered safely. Currently 171 sessions are being delivered per week across 10 facilities where a total of 6,255 pupils attend per week.

Our National Centre’s remained open for elite training as early and as safely as possible supporting GB Taekwondo, GB Paralympic Swimming and British Cycling athletes – with one eye on Tokyo 2021. We were delighted to successfully deliver 2 world-class COVID-safe international events in the Muller British Athletics Championships and Manchester Squash Open; welcoming athletes across the country and 64 of the world’s best male and female squash players.

Whilst both professional and semi-professional clubs in Manchester were required to cease their usual training and scheduled games for a period earlier in the year, competition soon returned under strict COVID-safe measures in the main without spectators, this included Manchester City Football Club, FC United Football Club and Belle Vue aces. We were also delighted to announce Manchester as a host city for RLWC2021 and to have secured the funding to deliver new playing opportunities for female footballers ahead of Manchester hosting EUFA Women’s Euro 2022.

With short notice, in collaboration with MCFC, Sport England and MCC, we have been able to successfully appoint Nuffield Health as the replacement future operators of the Manchester Health and Performance Institute taking responsibility of the facility from HCA Healthcare effective from January 2021.

I had the pleasure of launching our new city-wide campaign, ‘New Footsteps, New Discoveries’ beginning with our first trialing district, Ancoats and Surrounding Areas, where myself and Councillor Angeliki Stogia recorded a taster video on how much can be explored within this beautiful space! This campaign continues to support residents to utilise and be active in their open spaces and communities.

We continued to invest in various projects across Manchester to improve the provision and landscape for physical activity during lockdown. We invested £1m+ into the outdoor athletics track at Manchester Regional Arena, achieving 1st Class accreditation and a visit from Blue Peter. This was achieved alongside further improvements completed during lockdown at the Wythenshawe Park track, Whalley Range, Debdale Outdoor Centre and Denmark Road Sports Centre. We also invested and installed an interactive football wall at Platt Fields Park and helped install a new green gym at Greenbank Park.

As part of the legacy of the 2019 Cricket World Cup, the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) invested nearly £200,000 into Manchester parks and playing fields installing 17 Non-Turf Cricket Wickets into 15 parks and playing fields. From Heaton park in the north to Wythenshawe park in the south, these were ready for the families, friends, and teams to play and practice on from the summer holidays!

It’s been a great year for Parks Tennis despite the lockdowns we encountered. The courts reopened in May following the first lockdown with tennis being one of the first sports that was permitted to return under government & NGB guidelines. Using the online booking system we have in place for Alexandra, Chorlton, Fletcher Moss, Fogg Lane, Platt Fields and Wythenshawe Parks we saw an increase from 5,906 court bookings from May to September 2019 to 15,241 court bookings for the same period of 2020, an increase of over 258%.

Along with investment in Manchester leisure assets, 2020 has seen the successful launch of the MCRactive website and Provider Portal, a unique shared data platform managing sport and physical activity information, content, and inspiration within the City. This platform not only supports community providers and partners alike but provides a one stop shop for residents to find information on how to become healthier, happier Mancunians. The launch of the website and provider portal is the start of an exciting 12-month digital makeover for MCRactive and its partners so watch this space!


MCRactive will continue to put residents in touch with health, sport and physical activity across the Manchester to help, inspire and encourage everyone to move more and make our city healthier and happier despite the exceptional circumstances this year has presented. As we move into the new year, we will work collaboratively with all key stakeholders and sector leaders, to remain at the forefront of any changes and help as many Mancunians participate in their chosen activities in a COVID-safe way. Whether that be joining our 40+ weekly live streams or on demand classes hosted by GLL and Everyone Active accessible via our Be Active at Home page, or by returning to a local gym. We have something for everybody.

I am both extremely pleased and humbled by what we have achieved this year. We’ve made it our responsibility to ensure the city stays active and on top of health where and when we can. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved during this most testing of years and would like to wish everyone an enjoyable festive break and a very happy New Year with your nearest and dearest. Do make sure you recharge your batteries as we look forward to hopefully brighter times ahead.

Take care, stay connected and stay active.”

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