Blog & News from SajeImpact

18 Weeks and Counting

18 Weeks and Counting

I will be 55 in just 18 weeks time. For me life will be able to take another step into the next season in my life.

When this happens I am hoping to make greater use of this site for my musings on life and the world around! I have one big interview in May which might put these plans back a little bit (about 4 years) but either way there will be more time for travel and writing.

Stay tuned.


Seasons in Life - The Next one for Andy and Saje Impact

There are seasons to life I believe. Well it certainly feels like that as I start September 201Changes in 2018!8.

A number of Sport Board positions come to their natural end after several years of voluntary service - The Sport & Recreation Alliance , Special Olympic and CIMSPA . I want to thank everybody who has helped and supported me during the last 8 years since leaving Parliament (losing the election!) and welcoming me into the world of sport.

It has been another fascinating learning curve working with a sector I have passion for and trying to bring a fresh perspective and influence practise and policy. I will continue to do this but in different ways over the next 'season', mainly through The Sports Think Tank and through SAJEIMPACT LTD where I have generated a series of partnerships to bring the best people I have worked with to the sector - like David Slemen Sport:80 Services Limited . As always Loughborough University Loughborough University London will play a large part of what I do.

I will announce a few new NED positions too over the coming weeks.

I have always had a passion for my home county so I will be doing more economic growth work in Leicestershire through the LLEP too

Here is to the new season. Even if that includes retiring formally from Birstall RFC!

Special Olympics £2m Funding Boost

Posted: Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:05

As a Board member of SOGB I am delighted to finally announce DCMS have recognised the work of the Special Olympics

Special Olympics GB receives landmark £2 million government funding boost
Special Olympics Great Britain, the charity which helps children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities take part in year-round sports coaching and competition activities, has received a huge funding boost from the government.

Special Olympics GB currently has 150 local clubs that serve 8,000 intellectually disabled athletes with the help of its dedicated army of 4,000 volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales.

This new and historic £2 million backing will go towards supporting and improving the following important areas of Special Olympics GB's work:

Sending 115 Special Olympics GB athletes to Los Angeles to represent the country at the World Summer Games this summer which will commence with an opening ceremony held on 25th July 2015 in the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – the site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games. The opening ceremony is expected to attract 80,000 spectators with the Honorary Chair of the Games being President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The event, which will run from July 25th until 2nd August 2015, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games.

· To support Special Olympics GB's National Summer Games in Sheffield in 2017. The Deputy Prime Minister will announced the investment in Sheffield (on Friday 27 March 2015). Special Olympics GB expects the Sheffield games to be the largest ever – with over 2,000 athletes expected to take part in front of 10,000 family, friends and supporters. The event is free to all members of the public.

In addition, the funding will enable the charity to significantly strengthen its current infrastructure and help create new inclusive clubs, develop competition pathways and launch an innovative new Unified Schools project which will target 25,000 new young participants over the next 3 years and provide a clear pathway for young people with ID to pursue sporting opportunities after they leave school, ensuring they remain physically active in the future.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: "I'm immensely proud to be supporting Special Olympics GB to actively recruit, inspire and empower people with intellectual disabilities to reach for the finishing line in their favourite sport. Over a million people in the UK have an intellectual disability, and sport is a key component in helping to tackle stigma, improve health and broaden their horizons with new opportunities. I saw first-hand the benefits of the games when I met Nicholas, a Special Olympics athlete from Sheffield who went on to compete for the GB Team as an athlete in the 2014 Special Olympics European Games last year. This funding is yet another example of this government's work to build a fairer society and provide opportunity for everyone. After successfully staging the Tour De France, Sheffield will build on that legacy by hosting the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and will cement our city's proud reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, boosting tourism and bringing thousands of visitors to the area."
Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: "Britain has a great tradition of supporting disability sport, delivering the most successful Paralympics ever at London 2012. I'm committed to ensuring that more people than ever enjoy the benefits of sport. This funding will ensure the Special Olympics continues to go from strength to strength both in Los Angeles and Sheffield."
CEO of Special Olympics GB, Karen Wallin said: " I want to sincerely thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Secretary for their recognition of and investment in, our life changing sports programme. Special Olympics GB has a vision to ensure that it becomes the recognised leader in the provision of sport to all people with intellectual disabilities and allowing them to achieve their full potential in life through meaningful inclusion. We are committed to driving positive actions for young disabled people in sport within both education and community settings and we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to ensure that our infrastructure and programmes have the ability to reach every child and young person with intellectual disabilities in Great Britain by 2018. The investment received today from government will ensure that we achieve this goal and more."
Notes for editors:
There are an estimated 1.5 million people (2% population) with an intellectual (learning) disability in Great Britain. The year-round sport provided by Special Olympics is important to people with learning disabilities because adults and children with intellectual disabilities tend to have poorer health and the many emotional and physical problems associated with inactivity. One in three people with an intellectual disability is obese, compared to 1 in 5 of the general population.

Recent government funded research shows marked differences in the life expectancy of people with intellectual disabilities. Men with intellectual disabilities die on average 13 years earlier than men without disability, whilst the figure for females is a staggering 20-year disparity. This research also shows that 1,200 people with learning disability die unnecessarily prematurely each year due to inadequate regular medical care and lack of an annual health check.

Special Olympics can help this huge issue by ensuring people with an intellectual disability are kept within an inclusive social community network which can identify health problems and issues by their coaches and club members. Special Olympics GB is working hard with medical experts to address these issues through our sports training and competition – a key programme called 'Healthy Athletes' makes health checks available to our athletes at key competitions.

Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to increase their confidence; realise their potential; develop physical fitness and mental wellbeing; demonstrate courage and experience new friendships.

Special Olympics GB (SOGB) is part of a global organisation that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to 4.4 million children and adults with intellectual (learning) disabilities in almost 200 countries. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, sister of the late President John F Kennedy, Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities opportunities to realise their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience friendship.

Special Olympics is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the third member of the Olympic family. It is the only sports organisation authorised by the IOC to use the word 'Olympics' in its title.

Special Olympics GB is supported by annual partners – Premier Partner; National Grid Plc, Official Partners; Coca-Cola Great Britain, ABB, Coca-Cola Enterprises Ltd.

For Press Enquiries or more information please contact:

Chris Hull Communications Director, Special Olympics GB
MOB 07713193927

Tags: board, dcms, special Olympics

A Full Second Term - the Cameron Slip

Posted: Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:54

A Full Second Term - the Cameron Slip

You can see why politicians don't always answer questions and often stick to a formula, after the storm that has been caused by David Cameron 'announcing' he wouldn't seek to serve a third term. To many outside the political bubble there may be some consternation at the amount of coverage this honest and throw away comment has caused.

What this answer has revealed is a number of 'unintended messages' which send signals rather than anything particularly earth shattering.

A Prime Minister signalling their end automatically diminishes their power. Subconsciously every ambitious MP and party worker is now fixed on pleasing the next leader in waiting if their turn for preferment has not already happened. Even established politicians who want to maintain their position need to know whover takes over will look after them to the same degree. They will all now be positioning themselves for the changing of the guard before the next election.

Of course by saying you won't contest for a third term then legitimises the question abuot how long in the 2nd parliament you intend to serve. Given that a new leader of party needs to set out their case to the country this cannot happen weeks before a general election in 2020. So if not weeks before is it years before?; and how many. No all the questions are about the timing of departure now thanks to this story.

Of course to a PM who has always appeared slightly arrogant and tried to throw off the image of feeling entitled to becoming the PM, even though he has not even won an election this all does look a little presumptuous to say the least. To be fair to Cameron if you read the words carefully he bm2u7qg actually assume he will be PM, but the damage is done on social media these days within minutes of the scoop.

And finally of course I am sure if this was a deliberate 'story' (I am not convinced it was because of the timing) to shut don leadership speculation ahead of the GE it has of course done the opposite. By naming some succesors he has already boosted or finished off their chances but has also fired the starting gun for them to legitimitaly position themselves. Usually the formula for a leadership hopeful is simple – there is no vacancy for the job of PM and so therefore I have no plans. Now they can no longer deny a vacancy. There will be one in the next 24-36 months. It is now open season

What is fascinating is the timing of the announcement. There was no need to do this, and with the Tories still 1% behind in the poll of polls I can see no good reason why it would be helpful.

So next time you hear a formulaic and boring political answer you will understand why. Get it wrong and the media coverage for the next 48 hours can break you.

Tags: Cameron, GE

Reed Joins Panel for Tawney Dialogue

Posted: Thu, 19 Mar 2015 10:00

Reed Joins Panel for Tawney Dialogue

Reed Joins Panel for Tawney Dialogue

Andy Reed was on a panel of a different kind last night at the annual Tawney Lecture – now dialogue!

Instead of the Christians on the Left members listening to MPs, Lords and politicians the members were given centre stage to pitch their ideas and policies!

Responding tot he 11 pitches were Stephen Timms MP, Mary Creagh MP and former MP Andy Reed.

Andy said "What a great idea and what fantastic presentations our members gave. For me what stood out was the level of community understanding of the problems faced in Britain today from people who live and engage in some of the poorest communities in the country – certainly a million miles away from the rarefied air of Westminster and the normal think tanks! The issues of low pay were brought to life with the real life stories of our members neighbours trapped by debt and poor housing. Certainly a contrast to the priorities of the Chancellor the same day in the Commons"

You can follow the debate that took place on twitter following the hashta #peopleshustings

Tags: Andy Flanagan, Christians On The Left, Labuor, Mary Creagh, Stephen Timms, Tawney

Sporting Election?

Posted: Thu, 12 Mar 2015 14:38

At SajeImpact we pride ourselves on monitoring what is happening in the run up to an election especially for our sporting clients. It is hard for them to see what is happening because much of the 'debate' heading into an election doesn't mention sport or physical activity. As a sector we are rightly proud that politicians don't use sport as a massive political football and comparatively there is a good deal of cross party support and consensus.

However, I would argue that this cosy view of sport, recreation and physical activity is a little lazy and that's why we get behind the headline launches and the thinking going on between elections and with the different personalities and all parties. I have blogged elsewhere about the power of the personal world view and whims of a minister with a strong desire to make changes. Don't just understand the party and the ideology, understand what makes them tick personally.

In the build up to the 2012 olympics the sporting consensus was very much on show – perhaps for the duration of the decade either side of the Games. Indeed in the Coalition government the budget in DCMS for sport was largely spared when the cuts started to fall. A period during and just after the fantastic olympics was not the time to create a political backlash.

However, by welcoming these little wins it shows why we sometimes get the wrong focus. To claim sports spending was 'protected' would not go down well if you were a local government sports development officer. The cuts to local government have already had a negative impact and some claim 60% of the cuts are still to come.

So we have been helping look and think about the big questions facing sports, NGBs, local authorities and other sports providers. As budgets start to get squeezed we see more evidence of organisations positioning themselves.

These questions will be about the size of the cake? Which department will be funding sport, physical activity, recreation, will there be a DCMS, or will Health be running the budget. If it health is this the H&W Boards or CCGs and what will be funded? The current system of funding sport NGBs through their Whole Sport Plans comes to an end in 2017 – will they be rolled over or a new mechanism found.

The bigger question that needs to be faced is why government funds sport at all and wether there will be a genuine cross departmental sport and activity strategy. This might sound a little pedantic but it will set the tone for intervention (assuming UKIP don't win and there is no intervention!)

If a government is funding sports for its own sake it will look very different in its delivery if say it is funding sport & PA to get people active or for health reasons. If it is funding sport for its development abilities this will look different too. There are many asking questions at our Sports Think Tank about the desirability of funding existing sports to simply grow their numbers. Why, they ask, are we using public money to get people already capable of taking part in sport do a little more to hit some magical participation figures? is the real challenge we face amongst the most inactive/ least active found amongst women, BAME, disabled & lower socio economic groups. The latest APS figures show these groups remain stubbornly under represented..

So we have been talking to politicians, civil servants and policy makers to see what is driving them to support a sports policy. It is not the same as waiting for consultations to be launched or sending MPs, Lords and others reports. of course with the most open and unpredictable general election coming up this is particularly exciting this time round set against a set of austerity cuts that make the eyes water.

So 2015-20 is not a political neutral zone for sport and physical activity. Whoever wins is going to be looking to reduce the size of the cake and demanding more for their investment. Are we ready and do we know what politicians are planning!? I hope you do.

Tags: Election 2015, Sport

Creating Active & Connected Cities

Posted: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:24

Creating Active & Connected Cities

Creating Active & Connected Cities

A large part of my work and life means I am passionate about sport and the positive things it can do, but realised a long time ago that if we want to really tackle the inactivity timebomb that is ticking away in the UK, sport in itself is not going to be enough to reach large parts of the population. And no matter how attractive the leisure sector try to make their gyms and classes they don't work for everybody either. Indeed even the great outdoor economy works for millions more but still means millions are still not active enough.

The requirement is a total cultural, social and political shift which of course is not easy to achieve. We all often quote the Finnish model where there has at least been an attempt for a long period of time to cross-sectorally build in physical activity and sport to people's daily lives.

Our work on the Physical Activity Commission Report, the Designed to Move Report and the Public Health England work in recent months has highlighted time and gain that rebuilding activity into our daily lives is the way to achieve greater things than simply getting some already sporty people doing a little more!

For those of us who believe this the answers all seem simple and straightforward – hence projects like Leicester City Councils Connecting Leicester. Simple really isn't it.

Well as it seems from public reaction I listen to or read on Radio Leicester or the Leicester Mercury the vision is not understood by everybody who reacts to suggest it's all a waste of money or an attack on motorists. There is still some way to go to 'sell' this vision to the public it seems.

This is where I think some of us who are obsessed by the healing powers of physical activity have to understand the political constraints of what we are trying to achieve. I know I am impatient for change too but only by working with voters and politicians can we change a culture dependent on the car and a lifestyle that has excluded activity.

This excellent research by Active Living Research really helps make the wider case for the benefits for these changes. Perhaps we need to make the case end express our enthusiasm in new ways that connects with people and their experiences. From easier walking and cycling to connected parks and leisure to outdoor recreation our lives are clearly enriched by this cycle of increased activity and reduced use of cars and things that choke our lives.

This is worth a look to see what is planned. To be honest in one sense it is modest in its ambition. This is good stuff but hardly a model European city where walking ad cycling are the dominant modes of transport. The Mayor and team are to be praised for sticking their political colours to an active city vision – but at a time of austerity it is hard to achieve. But we will watch and support these changes where we can. This is the sort of bold investment we meed to see – saving generations to come a fortune treating an inactive and obese nation!


Tags: Connected City, Cycling, Leicester City, Peter Soulsby, Walking

Political Update from SajeImpact

Posted: Thu, 05 Mar 2015 09:20

Political Update from SajeImpact

As we get nearer the election I will be logging the stories and trends that are important to my clients and giving a brief summary here online of the much more detailed analysis I am providing.

Clearly much of this bias is towards the public health, sport, physical activity agenda where most of my clients are based – but I will also include general politics, faith, international development and charities. It will be brief and mainly headlines but hopefully it will give you a picture of what we are capturing daily.

For some stories it will be a simple retweet or a slightly longer post on Tumblr. Here we will capture the main headlines for you. So follow me on twitter for a comprehensive capture of the day!

For starters today:-

A few thoughts will follow on PMQs from yesterday as well as the 'Leaders TV Debates' that will no longer happen.

Plenty going on today around the latest 'Ashcroft Polling' showing the SNP could be taking 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland. Fortunately we have been covering the minor parties and sport over at my and the SNP views on sport and PA will be covered.

Similarly UKIP are claiming 4 seats 'are in the bag'. We are struggling to make any sense of UKIP policies!

We have just a couple of weeks to go until the 'Budget' and the mindgames have started already. This is a pre election budget so don't expect it to make any economic sense – its all about 'give aways' that we will have to pay for in the next 5 years – whoever wins. So watch out for the populist 1p off beer (buy 370 get one free) and tax cut.

We have been scenario planning this week on the basis of the possible election results. To be honest it looks tough for sports and physical activity policies whoever wins in May. There seem to be plenty of similar debates going on within parties around the issues we all know about – why fund, at what level and with what targets?

There are a number of 'manifesto'/ survey launches over the coming 2 weeks to watch out from various NGBs, Organisations, Think Tanks and Political parties!

We are helping find space in a crowded landscape before the election starts properly at the end of March.

As well as the official polling I am speaking to MPs , candidates, agents constantly to hear what they are sating about their own seats. They are being pretty open and honest which all helps build up a more accurate picture than general swing national polls.

Tags: Blog, Briefings.

Signing Up to Help Leicester Tigers Foundation

Posted: Sun, 01 Mar 2015 09:14

Signing Up to Help Leicester Tigers Foundation

Signing Up to Help Leicester Tigers Foundation

We are delighted to be helping the newly created Leicester Tigers Foundation.

The Foundation aims to be at the heart of the local community and uses the power of rugby and other sports to educate, motivate and inspire positive futures for all. Underpinning the work of course are the core values of the Tigers and rugby – respect, discipline, teamwork, hard work and fun!

We are able to utilise the power of the Leiecster Tigers brand to deliver community based programmes aiming to change people's lives and improve sporting access and coaching in the community.

Andy said "This is a great opportunity to be involved in things we love – rugby, Tigers, and improving the lives of our local community through sport and specifically rugby. When working doesn't seem like work its a great feeling. Working with the Tigers Foundation certainly is in that category and we are lucky to have so many rugby connected projects in our portfolio"

Want to know more or want to support the foundation – check here.

Tags: Leicester tigers foundation, Matt hampson, rugby, tigers

Professional Sports Careers - Rugby Players

Posted: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:57

Professional Sports Careers - Rugby Players

Professional Sports Careers - Rugby Players

Are you a retired professional rugby player and want to help in a research project at Loughborough University.

If you are interested please contact Sabrina Heimler (PHD researcher) at the contact details included below:

Research aim:

Our work lays the foci of research on the study of professional sport careers, looking at the careers of retired ex-professional rugby players, trying to gain a more holistic understanding of how they make sense of their playing career and beyond. Critical attention is drawn to current academic work, as professional sports careers have not been considered in the sense of a working career, regarding 'sport as work'. Yet, I like to argue that sport professionals go through a process of career development and follow various career paths and experience career transitions, transferring vocational theories into a sporting context.

Research method:

As this is a new strand of research, we are interested to gain an all-encompassing account of what a career in rugby is like, by listening to the life stories of retired ex-professionals.

At this point, I would like to stress that we are well aware of the calibre of our research participants and that all shared information will be treated with strict confidence, and will be kept anonymous and not identifiable at all times.

Research implications:

The research aims to generate knowledge for the following parties:

  • Academic audience, to contribute to knowledge generation in this scarce field of research.
  • Current and future player generations, to offer insights about career paths.
  • Other closely related stakeholder groups.

Tags: Loughborough University, retired rugby players, rugby

EFDS Charter Launch

Posted: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 09:38

EFDS Charter Launch

EFDS Charter Launch

"I was delighted to be at the launch of the EFDS Charter in the House of Commons last night and to make sure our sports step up to make themselves truly accessible" Andy Reed

This week, EFDS launches a Charter for Change which will give key stakeholders clarity about where improvement is needed.

Centred around three fundamental requirements for making active lives possible, the Charter pushes hard for a position where:

1. Everyone involved in providing sport or physical activity will support disabled people to participate.

2. Disabled people will have the same opportunity as non-disabled people to be active throughout their lives.

3. All communications about sport and physical activity will promote positive public attitudes towards disabled people's participation.

In each area we ask that simple steps are taken to change the mainstream approach which has so often prevailed amongst sports providers, Disabled People's Organisations and media/communications experts. Past, failing approaches have so often involved marginal "supply side" adjustments or inferior parallel provision which was somehow meant to enthuse and inspire currently inactive people!

Those who are seeing greater success in disabled people's participation (amongst which Tennis is leading the way) have made a simple shift in their thinking.Revolutionary though it may seem, success depends on a willingness to find out what your potential customers might actually want!

Our Charter for Change is strongly underpinned by ten well researched principles published in a report aptly titled "Talk to Me". In this report, disabled people helped to shape ten clear principles which if applied, would enable sport and activity providers to deliver more appealing opportunities for disabled people.

Tags: Efds, House Of Commons, Tanni Grey-thompson

Full Time MPs? Absolutely!

Posted: Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:42

I have been asked so many times over the last 24 hours about my views on MPs – full time or part time? Insular careers or wider experience?

I was always told there were two types of MPs – those in safe seats and marginal seats. As I spent 13 years in a marginal seat I may be biased in a few of the simple comments I make below.

For a starter the question I would ask is what job do we want our MPs to do? For me in a marginal seat I was supposed to be a national legislator or scrutinising legislation and holding the Executive to account. Temporarily as a PPS & on the government payroll I was part of the 'executive'. At the same time I had a constituency of 70,000 people where I was effectively a full time campaigner for all things that would improve the lives of those people – from improving the station, sorting out local parking issues to individual CSA, Housing problems for over 22,000 people.

To be honest each of the 3 parts of the job is full time. How on earth MPs find the time to have a second job was and is still beyond me. If you have time you are not pulling your weight in Bill Committees, Delegated legislation Committees, Question time, Debates in the Chamber or Westminster Hall. I would argue that because I was in a marginal I was not as effective as I would like to have been at scrutinising national legislation. I would certainly do that much better if I had my time again.

However, having said that I was acutely aware that all I wanted to be was to be known as a really good constituency MP. I took pride in that. It meant I followed hundreds of local issues in minute detail and acted whenever I could to help. Again – to this properly if you were as hands-on as Liked to be was full time!

So I have established in my own mind that it is not possible to be a proper MP if you are taking on many outside paid interests. It is simply not possible to take too many hours out of the 70 I worked most weeks.

However, there is another problem increasingly becoming apparent – that we have too many professional MP with little outside experience before entering parliament. It is increasingly difficult to put aside a professional or other career to enter parliament in the first place. We need a much wider variety of skills and people from different backgrounds.

I also wonder if there should be a maximum length of service. One of the headlines I saw was about the sense of entitlement amongst those in sage seats who want to stay for life. The building does institutionalise people. We need to break those who have been there too long.

There are some MPs who I have seen keep some outside interests which does make them better legislators and not confined to the Palace of Westminster. Some serve in the TA, as GPs or on outside committees. I did chair a couple of charities, sports Boards which really helped keep in touch – but all unpaid and I thin this is the crucial difference. Once you being paid to do your work by an outside interest your loyalties are split!

I have generally been vocal about outside interests and made sure I only had the one paid job as an MP – that of being an MP so that I was totally committed to my Loughborough constituency. I have not changed my mind that it is not possible to serve two masters.

having said all this I do understand that for many MPs a salary of £67,000 is a pay cut. I also recognise that for me it was a pay rise at the time and one that I was very happy with. It puts MPs in the top 20% of salary bands and nobody should ever enter politics to make money – making a living is ok! We could raise the salary to £100k but it still wouldn't still satisfy the few greedy ones who need & desire up to £300-500k a year to maintain their lifetsyles.

Finally the problem is the life cycle of MPs. I lasted 13 years but I was told the average is just 7 years. having spoken to many MPs who have lost/ moved on or stepped down they have found it difficult to go back to their chosen careers, and therefore this has to be taken into account by those who stand – it may well be the end of your career!

Tags: 2nd jobs, MPs, salary

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