Outdoor Industries Association Blog

Archive for November, 2014

Britain on Foot – The OIA’s Calling Card to Government

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

So is Britain getting back on its feet?

This is an update on the progress we at the OIA are making with our political campaigning work – all under the banner ‘Britain on Foot’. You remember that? Well, the campaign is progressing with strength. I want to start by clarifying what a campaign is, specifically this one – it’s the industry’s calling card to government and the nation. By aligning our OIA goal to sell more outdoor kit with a clear, not-for-profit goal to ‘Get Britain Active Outdoors’, we open many, many more doors.

BOF Logo CMYK FinalBoF is a call to action to get the British public fitter, healthier and happier in the great outdoors. Two years ago, the OIA had no political engagement, zero! Since then, the team has built a campaign, brought together a network of contacts, and built the profile of Outdoor Activity to cabinet level. BoF is now discussed in Number 10, in both houses of Parliament, in National Health strategy meetings, in a Parliamentary Commission on Physical Activity, with all concerned being most supportive of the campaign.

With a long way still to go, however, the OIA needs support to encourage the nation to get active and make the most of what the Great Outdoors has to offer, increasing participation and ultimately boosting industry sales. A number of supporters (www.britainonfoot.co.uk/supporters) have generously provided financial assistance to the campaign, but there are many other ways in which EVERYONE can get involved and help to promote the campaign, from displaying stickers in car/shop windows to adding the logo and a link to web pages and spreading the word via social media.  

So what success has there been recently?  

We’ve been very busy and have achieved some great results. I hope you’ve seen a lot of the increased activity around Physical Activity recently in the media, especially in the last month, when two major reports were published that we’ve been closely involved with: 

1) The Natural England conference – ‘Outdoors for Everyone’, which BoF sponsored. This report was prepared following a national conference by the University College London, and has had wide government distribution. Basically, the paper continues to promote the case for using the Outdoor Recreation environment for tackling health issues. 

2) The Public Health England (PHE) framework for Physical Activity, ‘Everybody Active, Every Day’, was launched with a huge commitment from government to invest in prevention, with the costs of a ‘cure’ spiralling out of control on the NHS. You may have seen headlines in the papers talking about ‘paying you to stay fit’ – a media twist and sensationalism on exactly the direction health is going. There is only one feasible solution for the issues in the UK today – we need to get the nation more active. The UK is the least active nation in Europe – 63% is physically ‘inactive’ – compared to only 18% in Holland, 28% in Germany, even the USA has only a 40% inactive population!

So, there is a huge need – financially, morally, health strategy wise – to ‘Get Britain on its Feet’, and when that happens, the Outdoor Recreation market needs to be ready and willing to take those new customers. To that end, we are working closely with Sport, Tourism and Health departments and are right now working at Ministerial level on a National Strategy for Outdoor Recreation. We are just at the very beginning of this, but if it is successful it will mean “outdoor” featuring in a Strategic Government plan for the first time, and could be the real beginning of change for the industry. 

This is the core of what we do on the campaign side – engage, promote, represent, keep up the pressure that Britain has stopped moving, offer Outdoor Recreation as a solution, and pressure as many departments and partner organisations as we can to build and promote the outdoors – it’s a long journey, but one we are tackling at speed, with greater and better results being achieved as we go along, and the outdoors is at the heart of that journey. 

None of this would have been possible without the support of OIA members and BoF’s First Funders, so a continued big thank you to you all – together we can raise the profile, build the outdoors, save the health of the nation and grow our industry.

Andrew Denton