Sport England tackles inequalities through Covid response

Sport England will work with “expert partners” to support local organisations and community groups struggling due to the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown.

CEO Tim Hollingsworth told this week’s DCMS Select Committee hearing into the impact of the pandemic that it was important to support such organisations because, despite record levels of activity nationwide before the lockdown, “stubborn inequalities” that persisted before it have grown worse.

This includes 44% of children doing less than the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended amount of activity per week, compared to about a third before the lockdown.

He also explained that amongst all of the communities where inequalities have persisted – including disabled people, BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) individuals, and women and girls – the “biggest one overall” and a “consistent inequality” was amongst lower socio-economic groups.

“It was the economic circumstances that people found themselves in that tended to indicate their levels of activity,” he reported.

Therefore, within the £195million set aside by Sport England to tackle the effects of the pandemic, funds have been set aside to support those who "understand" these communities.

“We have a further fund of £20million about to go on stream, which is even more geared towards local clubs and communities, and try to help those particularly who are working in those areas of higher socio-economic deprivation and who are playing roles in terms of really engaging people who really didn’t have activity as part of their lives.

“We are going to work that slightly differently, less as an open fund and more using expert partners who understand those environments and localities, to help us distribute it.”

He revealed: “We have learned a lot strategically in the last few years about how understanding local communities and a sense of place in our investment can really help to reach people, who perhaps weren’t previously so well served by the traditional sports sector and landscape.

“In that respect, we know that we can work with organisations…. each of you in your constituencies will have an Active Partnership for that region working across that area who will know who the best organisations are to reach out to, and equally there are brilliant locally-driven organisations like StreetGames and Sported, and others in that field, who understand communities, and how sport is playing a role in those local communities.”