The Countryside Alliance welcomes the inquiry into the social impact of participation in sport by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee and has submitted written evidence on the positive role rural sports can contribute to social mobility, education, health, and community engagement.

The main focus of our evidence highlighted how taking part in rural activities such as fishing, hunting or shooting sports has shown to provide a positive impact on social mobility, education, health, and community engagement. The Committee was keen to hear from specific case studies of success and from programmes that best demonstrate the positive social impact that participating in sport and culture can have.

Our evidence outlined the benefits from our charity arm, The Countryside Alliance Foundation which has introduced thousands to the countryside and enabled many young people who get few life chances to participate in positive outdoor rural activities. The Foundations three key projects: Fishing for Schools, Falconry for Schools and Casting for Recovery all demonstrate that positive engagement in rural activities can improve health and educational attainment. We actively encourage participants of our Foundation projects to continue fishing or shooting by introducing them to what is happening in their local areas, putting them in touch with clubs, and our instructors provide informal post course mentoring. We have found a significant proportion of participants endeavor to continue once they have been introduced to rural sports through one of our projects.

In addition to our charity projects we also outlined the benefits of shooting and its associated activities such as beating, picking up or manual work and how they contribute to the wellbeing and health of those who take part. Sports and outdoor activity are increasingly being recognised as important for their contributions to our physical, personal and social wellbeing. Hunting also plays a key role in many communities. The majority of hunts organise social activities which can include a point-to-point or a quiz night, while a hunt meet itself gives people in the community a chance to come together. This is especially important for those in the remotest parts of the country where houses are isolated and services such as the local pub are harder to reach or non-existent.

The submission for evidence closed on February 22nd 2018 and the findings of the inquiry will be made available early summer.