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Help shape the future of water sports on the Southeast's "blue spaces"

Jenny Cooper, the PLA's sports participation & community outreach manager, speaking with kayakers near Richmond
Jenny Cooper, the PLA's sports participation & community outreach manager, speaking with kayakers near Richmond.

Water sport clubs in London, Essex and Kent have a chance to shape the future of physical activity on the tidal Thames and other “blue” spaces across the region, in a joint Port of London Authority (PLA) and London Sport survey.

The feedback received will help the PLA develop Active Thames, a new partnership with the national governing bodies for canoeing, rowing and yachting and other interested organisations, such as the Canal & River Trust. It aims to increase public participation in sport on the capital’s river and beyond.

Coaches, volunteers and all participants, with access to waterways covering the equivalent of 15,000 football pitches, from Teddington to the North Sea, are being asked to submit their views, by completing a short questionnaire by 24 April.

All respondents will be entered in a draw to win £250, in one of three categories.

Jenny Cooper, the PLA’s sports participation & community outreach manager, said:

“COVID-19 has really highlighted the benefits of outdoor exercise to health and wellbeing, with people turning to new sports and discovering local spaces. We saw a huge increase in new river users in the summer and we want them to come back, to keep active all year round and to enjoy the water safely. This survey will help us understand our new and existing audiences better, provide more opportunities, and support the incredible network of volunteers and staff who make sport happen.”

“It’s a key part of our long-term Thames Vision strategy, to maximise the social, economic and environmental benefits the river offers.”

Lorna Leach, strategic relationship manager, London Sport, said: “We're excited to be working with the Port of London Authority on Active Thames. We expect this research to provide a strong base on which to increase physical activity levels and develop the workforce behind water sports provision across London to provide inclusive activity and employment.

“The programme seeks to open up much-needed blue space across the capital supporting the diverse communities of London to safely access the river for water sport activities and benefit from the significant health and wellbeing outcomes that physical activity offers.”

The survey is available to complete now.

Participant – Survey Link

Anyone using blue space for recreation

Coach– Survey link

Anyone directly coaching participants, whether volunteering or paid

Administrator– Survey link

Anyone providing administrative support, whether volunteering or paid. This section includes questions on facilities and participation levels.