Focus on: tackling inactivity

In the first of our new series looking at our Active Nation funding, we focus on our work to tackle inactivity

07 November 2016 Funding

We're launching a series of short articles highlighting our new funds – starting with our major new investment to combat inactivity.

Each feature focuses on a specific fund, providing more information on the kinds of projects we might be interested to support. You'll also find key details about target audience and information on how to prepare to apply.

Take a look at our range of new funding options here

Physical activity: the miracle cure

The figures on inactivity are stark. More than one in four of us do fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. And a staggering 1 in 6 deaths is caused by inactivity. That’s the same as smoking.

£10m inactivity fund launching in December

But it only takes a small amount of regular activity to make a big difference – a brisk walk, a game of football in the garden with the children, rediscovering your love of table tennis especially for those who are least active. It’s no wonder the chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, describes physical activity as a "miracle cure."

Our strategy, Towards an Active Nation, puts tackling inactivity at the heart of what we do, and we’re going to triple the amount we invest in helping people to become active. As a first step, we will be investing up to £10 million into projects to help older people get active.

Why target older people?

Our research shows that as you get older, you’re far more likely to become inactive: 42 per cent of people aged 55 and over are inactive compared to 29 per cent of the population as a whole.

This can be for a range of reasons, not necessarily directly connected to age and physical ability. It can be work, greater family and caring commitments and even social attitudes about the ‘right time’ to start getting active.

It’s for these reasons that our first priority audience in tackling inactivity will be older people.

What are we trying to achieve?

As you might expect, we’re trying to reduce the overall levels of inactivity among this age group because it’s higher than the population as a whole. The benefits of doing even a little physical activity are huge. In particular, we’re trying to test new ways of tackling inactivity, finding approaches that could be replicated across the country and make a significant difference to many more people’s lives.

What insight is there available?

In a word – lots. This is a huge and very varied age group with significant differences – such as employment, experiences and views on life – making everyone unique. This shows that we need to work in a very targeted way, with options tailored to individual needs. We can’t just think about older people as a single age group.

We’re currently compiling all the relevant research and insight to help us and our partners to better understand inactive people, including their motivations, obstacles and life influences. We’ll be publishing this insight pack next week.

The benefits of doing even a little physical activity are huge

When we invite bids for funding projects working with older people, we’ll also publish insight specific to that audience. We hope both of these documents will help you develop your ideas.

Ahead of that, there are already some interesting facts and insights coming out of a survey we commissioned of 2,300 people over 50 years old. We wanted to share some of this:

  • A third of people aged 55 and over live alone (data from Office of National Statistics).
  • Some older adults see physical inactivity as a natural and inevitable part of growing older – with activity being something they did in the past.
  • 70 per cent of older people are aware of official recommendations for the amount of physical activity they should do every week. But only seven per cent don’t know where to go to take part. So lack of information is rarely the issue  other barriers are stopping older people from being active.
  • 68 per cent of older people agree that being physically active makes them feel good about themselves.

What type of projects are we interested in hearing about?

To reduce inactivity levels for years to come, we need to change the way we work. This means moving away from projects that will only get people active in the short term and thinking about how we change social norms and perceptions. We also want to tailor what’s available to older people’s other needs and interests – for example, more companionship or a chance to raise money for a cause that’s important to them.

One in six deaths is caused by inactivity

Any eligible organisation with a great and innovative idea can apply for our support. We don’t want to stifle your thinking and creativity, but here are some of the things you could think about:

  • Older people will experience big life changing events or transitions, like retiring from full-time work or having grandchildren for the first time. This can be a good moment to try something new or revive something you’ve enjoyed in the past.
  • Many older adults will have previously played – and loved – a particular sport but stopped some time ago. Given the right environment, they may like to go back, perhaps with a different group of people or to a different version of the sport. Walking football, for example, is proving very popular with former footballers who still love the game but no longer want to run.
  • Balancing work and other commitments with physical activity in busy lives is a challenge for everyone. It’s easy to assume older people won’t be working or have caring commitments but many will be doing both. Working with big employers or those who support carers could be the foundation for an interesting project.

To find innovative and effective ways to tackle inactivity, we’re willing to take reasonable risks and invest in such a way that allows for more flexible partnership working. You’ll be able to read more detail on the kind of things we’re looking for in the specific older people prospectus we’ll publish in December 2016.

What should you do now?

We’re keen that you start thinking about proposals now. This fund is a two-stage process, so you’ll need to have you initial idea ready to share with us by noon on 13 February 2017. At this stage, you won’t need a fully worked up idea. We’ll need to know a little about your organisation, your understanding of the audience you want to work with and your initial thoughts and ideas on how you might tackle inactivity.

The partnerships we decide to enter into can, if needed, be offered a small development grant to work up their projects  for example gathering more insight, securing the right partners or piloting ideas.

We aim to make funding awards in June 2017, but we will move earlier on some projects if we find great ideas that are ready to go.

Need to know facts:

  • Fund: Tackling Inactivity (older adults)
  • Value: £10 million National Lottery
  • Opening: December 2016
  • Anticipated size of bids: £250,000 to £500,000
  • Full details and prospectus: December 2016
  • Expressions of Interest: noon 13 February 2017
  • Awards: June 2017