Chair: Mike Perls MBE




2020-21 was a challenging year for every individual and all our communities throughout Greater Manchester. The impact of the pandemic was felt in every area of life, and it is clear that our engagement in physical activity and sport was hit hard.

Our Active Lives data shows a steep downturn in activity levels from what had been a steady upwards trend in the years prior to the pandemic. This correlates with the national picture, which Sport England analysis attributed to the impact of lockdown restrictions. Given Greater Manchester’s more stringent lockdown restrictions, this impact was felt more sharply within the region and moving levels fell by 4.9%.

Against this backdrop, there was still significant resilience to celebrate. Despite the huge disruption to daily life, the majority of adults (52.4%) remained active (150+ minutes of physical activity a week), including during periods when our gyms and sports clubs were closed and restrictions demanded a curtailing of opportunity for activity. This highlights the innovation and resilience of many of our residents’ activity habits, and the importance of walking, running, cycling and home exercise in our exercise regimes. It also validates the consistent innovation, collaboration and agility shown by our physical activity and sports sector in recent years, ensuring relevant offerings to enable and support activity levels alongside aligned, meaningful messaging reinforcing the importance of movement in our daily lives.

I am immensely proud of the work of our team at GreaterSport, who continued to support partners, people and communities across the city-region to keep Greater Manchester moving throughout this immensely challenging time, whilst adapting their home and work lives like others around the region. The leadership roles they have each played in leading, convening, supporting, communicating, distributing investment and delivering projects, as well as supporting other leaders and communities, has been exemplary.

Their sense of purpose, belief and commitment to the importance of active lives and equalities has meant, throughout all the difficulties of the 2020/21 year, they have maintained an energy, focus and drive to make a difference - changing lives together through physical activity and sport.

This annual report showcases a fraction of the many highlights of their work throughout the year and the part played in the incredible partnerships across the region. It does provide huge confidence and excitement in the potential strides we can make in the coming year, leading and supporting Greater Manchester to recover strongly from the exceptional challenges of the pandemic.

We began to see and feel a positive change at the end of March 2021, as restrictions started to lift, and a greater sense of hope and optimism has returned. We are determined to continue to help Greater Manchester drive towards its vision and, having proudly taken part in the launch of the Sport England strategy in January, we will do our utmost to play a significant role in ‘Uniting the Movement’ together with our valued partners across the nation.