Since the start of the pandemic, it was very clear that Covid-19 was adversely affecting particular groups and communities more than others and widening existing inequalities in physical activity levels.
Given my job, I found this very concerning – especially as prior to the pandemic we had seen those gaps beginning to reduce for some under-represented groups.
So I was extremely enthused when Sport England announced the Tackling Inequalities Fund in April 2020, which was a new approach to deliver much needed funding to address these inequalities in our local communities.
The difference from previous national funds was Sport England working with key partners who knew their areas best to deliver this. For Essex, this was our Active Partnership and we greatly welcomed this approach.
The four audiences the funding targeted were lower socio-economic groups, ethnically diverse communities, disabled people and individuals living with long-term health conditions.
In Phase 1 of this fund the opportunity to work directly with our key networks, groups and communities, who we knew were struggling to remain active, was important.
We were able to fund 24 organisations and groups quickly, to efficiently meet the immediate need for support.
And we saw many groups develop new initiatives for their participants to get active during a difficult time, including new virtual offers.