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Getting support to where it's needed most

Active Essex's Hayley Chapman blogs about their involvement in the Tackling Inequalities Fund and how it's lead to a new way of working.

6th October 2021

by Hayley Chapman
Inclusion lead, Active Essex

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.

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.

Before Phase 2, we recognised that we didn’t support as many of the four priority groups as we had hoped to in the previous phase.

We had an under-representation in supporting ethnically diverse communities, primarily because we didn’t have as many networks established here as the other focus groups.

In response to this, we made a commitment that for Phase 2 we would allocate all our funding to ethnically diverse communities in Essex.

We knew that by doing this, we needed to take a different approach to establish new networks and relationships, ensuring the funding reached our communities who needed this support the most.

By working in partnership with the Essex Cultural Diversity Project and African Families in the UK, who are trusted organisations to many ethnically diverse groups in Essex, we were connected to 25 groups we hadn’t previously worked with.

It was great to see a diverse representation across these projects, including five different faiths, and I am especially proud of our community groups who have used innovative methods and shown resilience in keeping their communities active during this time.

It has been invaluable to connect and build trust with new community groups. As a result of this new network of partners, we have also been able to support them further through pulling in funding for other initiatives such as food insecurity, which was affecting many of the groups.

We’re now going to continue working with these organisations and help them embed physical activity within their communities for the long term.

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