Sport England has appointed Active Lancashire to invest a total of £220,000 in Lancashire as part of the Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF), to help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 causing the widening of inequalities in sport and physical activity.
Sport England has provided £220,000 of National Lottery funding to Active Lancashire to enable Lancashire community groups to work with four under-represented audiences (Black Asian Minority Ethnic, Disabled, Long Term Health Conditions, Low- Income) with a focus on keeping them active through the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affected these groups of people, significantly impacting their ability to be physically active. As a result, both their physical and mental health decreased, requiring an immediate response to help reduce this negative impact on their lives.
Active Lancashire will utilise its expertise, networks and local insight to connect with local groups and allocate this fund to those most in need. This will include funding community groups to find new ways of keeping active, offering advice and training support and increasing the resilience, capacity and capability of delivering partners.
Between April and September, Phase 1 of the funding allocated £106,258 to 33 projects, with a specific focus on under-represented groups:
- to Lower socio-economic groups
- 27% to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities
- 12% to People with disabilities
- 27% to People with long-term health conditions
Phase 2 commenced in October 2020 and will allocate the remaining funding across 32 more projects, which will be initiated by January 2021.
Active Lancashire promoted the funding opportunity online across its networks and received an overwhelming response. Of those approved, there have been some real success stories to date, with Fleetwood Town Community Trust engaging 45 people into their initiatives supported by the Tackling Inequalities Fund thus far. Given the lockdown and its profound impact on the health and wellbeing of our population, their programme has been ideal to get the community back outdoors and allow them to both socially and physically active. They created a safe and enjoyable environment for their participants by keeping in line with government guidance and adapting their activities to the restrictions.
Josh Handley, the Community Engagement Officer at Fleetwood Town Community Trust said:
“Within the participants, there have been many different changes, physically, socially, and mentally. During the couch to 5k one of the participants has dropped down 3 sizes in clothes, this has been down to attending regularly for the runs, also giving them the confidence to get out and perform extra activities”.
The participants who have been attending are people who have not previously accessed physical activity or people who have not been able to access any social or physical engagement over the duration of lockdown. Fleetwood Town Community Trust offered them cycling and running groups, beach cleans, walks and different kinds of sports. These activities have helped people socialise and stay outdoors, positively affecting their physical and mental health.
Another positive story to emerge from Phase 1 of the Tackling Inequalities Fund comes from South Ribble Borough Council, who were awarded £5,000 to pilot a new community focussed approach 'Active Streets', whereby the Sport Development team (who normally deliver within a school setting) worked alongside Progress Housing to identify families within the Broadfield area to deliver play activities. A total of 33 families engaged over a 6-week period, including over 70 children and young people. This approach really helped to build relationships between the Sport Development team and the community, as they had not previously delivered activities across this setting before. The initiative has not only benefitted those families involved as it has highlighted that simple play activities can help build stronger relationships between them, but it has also had an impact within the Council. The team now has the confidence and drive to work across more neighbourhoods and through building trust, they are able to offer additional activities in park settings such as orienteering and bikeability.
As the funding continues to support local initiatives across the County, Active Lancashire will remain in regular contact with those leading the projects to provide support, guidance and gather key learning in this unprecedented time. We will continue to share the impact of this work from the portfolio of Tackling Inequalities Fund projects as they start to unfold.