Investment to get older people active

We’re investing up to £10 million of National Lottery money into 20 projects across England to reduce the number of inactive older adults

05 October 2017 News

The projects we’re funding will use sport and activity to help tackle problems such as poor mental health, dementia, loneliness caused by bereavement, and addiction.

We know that 36% of people aged 55+ are currently inactive compared to 26% of the population as a whole.  

Keeping the audience in mind

We also know, though, that the over 55s age group is a diverse group and a 55-year-old might not have much in common with a 75-year-old, let alone a 95-year-old.

There are big differences in perceptions, experiences, motivations and capabilities among this diverse age range.

Which is why we’re investing in a broad range of projects that are aiming to tackle inactivity with the audience’s wants and needs in mind.

Download the full list of projects we're investing in

ESCAPE-pain is one of the 20 projects we’re funding.

The Health Innovation Network’s rehabilitation programme is for older people with chronic knee or hip conditions.

The six-week programme teaches people about their condition, shows them what they can do to help themselves and guides them through an exercise programme that enables them to do more.

Managing the pain

Coleen, 84, is a retired nurse, who has suffered knee pain for many years. The pain made normal daily activities, like walking to the shops and taking a bath extremely difficult.

About a year ago, Coleen’s pain increased so much she was unable to climb stairs.

Elderly lady with chronic knee pain

Guys and St Thomas's NHS Trust: Health Innovation Network

Location: London
Grant: £392,000

Part of our funding strategy for an active ageing population also extends to rehabilitation programmes.

ESCAPE-pain – a six-week programme delivered by physiotherapists in hospital outpatient departments – teaches people about their condition, shows them what they can do to help themselves and guides them through exercises that allow them to do more.

The programme taught Coleen, 84, a retired nurse who suffered knee pain for many years, to manage her condition. Although she still has some pain, she doesn’t feel knee surgery is now necessary. “It’s much less and it doesn’t bother me, I know how to cope now,” she says.

Elderly lady in wheelchair holds yellow ball whilst flanked by two younger women

British Gymnastics Foundation: Love to Move

Location: Across England
Grant: £499,991

Love to Move is a seated gymnastics programme which is transforming the lives of people living with dementia.

Dementia had caused Hazel, 93, to become withdrawn from life. But after being persuaded to try Love to Move classes in her care home in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, she regained functions she thought were lost, including using her hands to do crafts, knit and play bingo.

She also eats dinner with everyone else and is talking more. Hazel’s daughter Gill says: “You can’t believe the difference. She’s 93 and now she’s wanting to learn to stand so she can go home in the car. We just feel lucky to have had the opportunity to do it because it has made such a difference.”

Older women in a chorus line wearing red hats, black jackets and fishnet tights

Cotman Housing Association

Location: Norfolk and Suffolk
Grant: £249,256

Cotman Housing Association provide physical activity sessions at sheltered housing schemes in East Anglia, so that older people living in the schemes and residents from the neighbourhoods can benefit from weekly tailored personal fitness sessions and virtual fitness classes.

Cotman tenant June Simpson, 82, says of the sessions: “Having keep fit at the scheme enables us to keep our bodies and minds in better condition. It keeps my joints supple, our minds active and it’s good for fellowship and team working.”

Caroline Miles, sheltered housing manager at Cotman, said: “These activity sessions have been an inspiration. We're already seeing a visible difference, with customers demonstrating greater independence, self-confidence and motivation.”

exercise sessions for older adults


Location: Across England
Grant: £913,668

This award-winning social enterprise delivers fun, inclusive and subsidised exercise sessions to older adults.

One of Oomph!'s success stories has been in Plymouth, where they were called upon by the local council to train 18 instructors to run exercise classes in various community venues.

Joyce, a participant who has been attending weekly sessions at a local church, said: “It’s the best thing I have ever done. I am 92 and it keeps me going!”

man playing walking football


Location: Birmingham, Telford and Wrekin, Solihull and Derby
Grant: £181,056

Overcoming any kind of addiction should not be done alone. But through sport and groups like Aquarius – a charity that offers free and confidential information and support – help is at hand.

Following the recommendation of an Aquarius staff member, 51-year-old Anthony Hill conquered his alcoholism and turned his life around when he joined a weekly walking football club.

“I still find getting up on a morning a challenge, but knowing I’ve got football club, I make myself get up and go," he says. "It massively improves my mood – even my girlfriend has commented how much better I seem on the days when I play. Had it not been for Aquarius and walking football, I would have lost my battle with addiction. They have saved my life.”

Enough was enough. She went to her GP, who referred her to an orthopaedic surgeon for a knee replacement.

Coleen was reluctant to have surgery and was referred to a physiotherapy programme at her local hospital called Escape Pain.

Feeling the difference

After completing the programme, Coleen noticed big improvements in her walking. She is able to climb stairs again, feels more confident and “much better in myself because I can do things again”.

The programme taught Coleen how to manage her condition – and she’s determined to continue to do the exercises she learnt through Escape Pain

I’m going to continue. The pain is much less and I know how to cope now

Coleen, 84

“I’m going to continue, I know that," she says.

"I don’t think I need knee surgery. The pain is much less and it doesn’t bother me. I know how to cope now.”

Investing in the future

We’re also investing £500,000 of National Lottery money into the English Football League Trust’s ‘Extra Time’ project.

£10m investment to reduce inactivity in older people

The project – which will be rolled out in 12 locations across the England – will use the power of football clubs in local communities to create a national movement of active older people.

‘Extra Time’ will bring together regular gatherings of older people to socialise and prove that you’re never too old learn to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

We're also investing £250,000 in Motiview, which is already proving a hit in Germany, Canada and more than 200 locations in the Nordic countries.

The project uses videos, music, sound and virtual reality technology to help older people and people with dementia get active.

Tackling inactivity

Tackling inactivity is at the heart of our strategy. Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age.

Physically active older people have higher levels of mobility and a lower of risk of disease than those who are inactive. Ill health often means the loss of independence and is linked to social isolation and depression.

“People are living longer but not necessarily in the best of health," says Mike Diaper, our executive director.

"We’re excited to be supporting these 20 partners with National Lottery funding to help get older adults get active.

“We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country so we can help more adults lead happier and healthier lives.”

Our next round of investment to tackle inactivity will focus on people in lower socio-economic groups.

Further funding opportunities will be announced on our website as and when information is available.

Further information