Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund is supporting communities most affected by Coronavirus

by Jasmin Campbell health and wellbeing

We have recently received funding from Sport England to disseminate across the West of England during COVID-19. The Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund has enabled us to connect to our local communities and ensure that funding reaches those most in need of a short term investment to enable local people to get active and move more during these challenging times.  Investment has been focused on those who have been most affected by the conditions that the lockdown has created which has seen their activity levels dramatically affected.

The speed of response has ensured we can really support communities with their ‘here and now’ needs. It has been incredibly refreshing and encouraging to connect with organisations who are so keen to use sport and physical activity as a way of combating the current challenges being experienced by the people they support. Many of these organisations sit well outside the traditional sport and physical activity landscape; it is fantastic to see that the wider benefits of being active are being used in response to the challenges many people are currently facing.

Open Minds Active

Open Minds Active is a non for profit organisation involving a collective of like minded people who enjoy the outdoors. Their main focus is supporting positive mental health and wellbeing for all through nature, and in particular, wild swimming. This specific project focuses on supporting women in Central or East Bristol who may lack access to a lot of mainstream sports and activities. The women also expressed a need for counselling services post lock down as many have been struggling with the extra pressures and uncertainty that COVID19 brings.

3 local women have been delivering sessions as coaches/instructors/counsellors to run a mixture of outdoor yoga, introduction to golf and to set up an online group where participants can share their experiences and support each other. The aim is to help women reconnect with each other and their community, reintroduce healthy habits back into their daily lives and increase confidence and self esteem through activity, friendship and movement. The group recently took a trip to Kendleshire Golf Club where some hidden talents were revealed! 

Maggy Blagrove, Director at Open Minds Active said: "We had such a laugh and so great your funding is making that happen!"

Barton Hill Activity Club

We have been working with Barton Hill Activity Club on a number of projects including our Workforce Innovation Project which provided an introduction to sports coaching to participants from the refugee and asylum seeker community in Bristol. The founder of Barton Hill Activity Club, Samira Musse, attended these sessions as she is passionate about increasing the opportunities available to young people in Barton Hill. Barton Hill Activity Club provides weekly sessions for local children including a football club, which also focuses on healthy eating.

During lockdown, all sessions stopped but Samira has maintained contact with families and supported some with education packs for those who had no stationary to enable their children to do their school work. The children and families who usually attend the activity club were struggling to find ways to stay active during lockdown; the majority do not have gardens and are living in high rise flats or other accommodation with no outside space. 

As restrictions eased slightly, the families in this community were keen to make the most of local green spaces and get active outdoors. The provision of physical activity packs to these families will provide an incentive and an opportunity for them to get active together as a family.

We have successfully provided 200 families with an activity pack, and as restrictions ease further, this equipment will hopefully be used to create challenges and virtual competitions between the families and help enable them to feel connected as a club whilst they are unable to attend their regular weekly sessions.

Samira has said: "With the impact of the long unexpected lockdown children in the poorest areas of the country are the ones that were affected the most... this kind of kit will make a huge difference to their physical and mental health. Thanks Wesport for getting the funding for us."

Heart of BS13

Heart of BS13 is a social enterprise aiming to put BS13 on the map as a place where innovation creates employment and a healthy and thriving community. Heart of BS13 have been awarded funding through the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund to purchase equipment to be included in food packs to those most vulnerable during lockdown, along with some activity cards with simple examples of how to use the exercise bands included in their packs. 

A deliverer went out to distribute the activity packs and guide people in the use of the bands – she gave one to one or small socially distanced group guidance to 14 participants. 

Here's what some of the participants have said so far:

“ I used these before when I had physio but I haven’t been out and I didn’t know how to do it on my own- thank you for showing me”

“We used to have a regular exercise class years ago and then it stopped- we felt forgotten… it was wonderful to try this again today, I could remember some of the exercises”

Sporting Family Change

Sporting Family Change are on a mission to use sport to empower, inspire and motivate local families in Bath and the surrounding area to making positive long-term lifestyle changes, creating opportunity for all. They have used the Sport England Tackling Inequalities funding for a Walking Programme with parents, initially on a 1:1 basis, building toward three groups of different abilities focusing on supporting the mental health of participants and families.

The weekly walking club accommodates all ages and mobility with a three tiered system of difficulty: steady, strong, and sporting strollers.

  • Steady strollers are casual walkers who wish to increase mobility whilst easing themselves into regular strolls.
  • Strong strollers may be regular walkers but want to increase walking time or maintain a strong pace to walks.
  • Sporting strollers are looking to get a sweat on and physically challenge themselves on their weekly walk.

Participants have already shared that the walking group has supported their mental health and reduced the feelings of isolation they may have experienced during lockdown. 

Nova Sports & Coaching

Nova Sports & Coaching is a not-for-profit organisation who deliver high-quality, inclusive sport to people with disabilities in Bath, Frome and the surrounding areas. Nova have received funding through the Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund to deliver 100 activity packs to families in South Gloucestershire and North Somerset who have been referred through social carers and other professional referral partners. This funding has increased the size and reach of an existing project Nova was running in collaboration with other partners in Bath and Bristol.

Up to 5 items per family can be selected from a pre-determined list of equipment, such as: tennis rackets and footballs, sensory equipment like flexi rings and adapted equipment like nest balls and hitting tee's, or alternatively a bespoke package can be created for them! These free equipment parcels have really made a difference to families who have been shielding and have limited access to inclusive sports equipment, providing them with the resources and support to keep their children active at home.

"I just wanted to say a huge thank you for sending my daughter all the sports equipment, she was thrilled with it and has been playing with it a lot. You have made a very difficult situation that we are all struggling with that little bit easier."

We have enjoyed working with some familiar faces on this project as well as meeting some new organisations in the West of England with the shared goal of using sport and physical activity as a tool to support those most affected by coronavirus. We're looking forward to seeing how these and other funded projects develop in the future, keep an eye out for more updates soon! 

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about the author

Jasmin Campbell

Marketing & Administration Officer

T: 0117 328 6250