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Community Emergency Fund helps more than 2,000 organisations

We've already awarded £8 million of funding to sports clubs in financial trouble due to coronavirus.

28th April 2020

The future of more than 2,000 sports clubs and community organisations have been secured thanks to the first awards from our Community Emergency Fund - which is powered by The National Lottery.

To date, we’ve awarded more than £8 million from the fund, which was set up to help groups through immediate financial hardship caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Tim Hollingsworth, our chief executive, said he was “incredibly proud” that we’d been able to use National Lottery money to help so many organisations in such a short space of time.

“Sport and physical activity’s ability to bring individuals together and to unite communities will be of critical importance to our nation once the restrictions of lockdown begin to be lifted,” he said.

“This fund is a vital part of ensuring that grassroots organisations who might have cash-flow issues for a variety of reasons survive.

“Whether an organisation needs £300 or £10,000, the Community Emergency Fund is there for those who are in need of support to navigate this difficult period.”

The £20 million Community Emergency Fund is part of our overall up to £195m package of support set up in response to the current crisis.

The funding from Sport England has been a wonderful help. It will help us to get through this difficult time and be in the best possible position to return to normal and continue to work when this is over.

Tony Cusack

Manager at the Emerald Centre

Lockdown conditions have had a significant impact on sports clubs and organisations - particularly for those with cash-generating facilities who are no longer able to open their doors, or summer activities facing short-term losses due to loss of membership fees or competition income.

The areas of most immediate pressure for organisations include the costs of covering rent, insurance, maintenance and utilities bills, while demand for funding has been unprecedented.

In 2019, we received 4,000 applications across all our funding programmes, but the Community Emergency Fund has had over 6,500 since it was launched on 31 March.

Forest Hall Young People’s Club in North Tyneside is one of the organisations to have already received an award.

The club is used by a number of sports organisations, including football and boxing classes, and would not have been able to pay their lease without our £10,000 grant.

The money will be used to pay rent, bills and the one member of full-time staff, centre supervisor Sam Corbett, during the period of closure.

A football team playing out of Forest Hall Young People’s Club in North Tyneside

“I closed our doors on that Tuesday night and I cried because I thought ‘how are we going to survive?’ We’re all extremely grateful for the grant from Sport England,” said Sam.

“It doesn’t bear thinking about what the kids would’ve done without boxing and football to come back to when this is over – we’re already hearing they’re going stir crazy now.”

Another to receive funding is the Emerald Centre in Leicester.

The centre helps more than 10,000 people take part in sport and physical activity every year and is used seven days a week by people from small babies to those aged over 90.

With eight sports teams, including football and Gaelic football sides, many people rely on the site to get active.

Tony Cusack, the centre’s manager, said the £10,000 grant was a lifeline for his organisation.

“The funding from Sport England has been a great and wonderful help,” he explained. “It will help us to get through this difficult time and be in the best possible position to return to normal and continue to work when this is over.

“Without this funding it would have been very difficult to continue to do what we do once this is over. Our reserves are diminishing without our regular income and this grant has been crucial for us as we try and recoup some of the funding we’ve missed out on while being closed.”

Who we've helped

We've funded more than 2,000 sports clubs and community organisations so far. 

Here we highlight four examples of how our funding is making a difference. 

  • Forest Hall Young People’s Club

    Award: £10,000

    Forest Hall Young People’s Club is home to two sports club, a host of fitness groups, a men’s weight loss programme, indoor bowls clubs, Irish dancing class, craft club, playgroup and many other community activities

    Upon closing its doors, without outside funding the charity that operates the facility and holds the lease would’ve gone under and had to hand it back to North Tyneside Council. 

    But our grant allows them another three months of breathing room. 

    The grant will be used to pay rent, bills and the one member of full-time staff, centre supervisor Sam Corbett, during the period of closure. 

    Forest Hall Young People’s Club is a home to both football and boxing clubs, each with more than 300 members that cater for all ages and genders – the football club also runs a disability team for over 16s and a training group for disabled 7-16-year-olds. 

    Their floodlit five-a-side 3G pitch also plays host to a Man Vs Fat football league and weightloss programme, while the pavilion is used by a number of regular exercise classes, a children’s Irish dancing class, a carpet bowls club for the local elders as well as a craft club and playgroup. 

    The charity, made up of volunteers, worked hard at the end of 2019 to secure the lease to the facility, employ Sam on a full-time basis and increase the usage of the pavilion – this closure has come at the worst possible time. 

    Despite the closure, Sam is still working full-time, maintaining the facility, taking care of paperwork and now running a small food distribution centre from the pavilion. 

    With donations from the community, she has been able to send out 15 hampers already with another 20 or so on the way. 

    Clearly a vital part of the Palmersville community for the near 10 years they’ve been at their current premises, the Sport England grant should ensure the next ten years are even more successful than the last. 

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  • East Liverpool Riding for the Disabled Association

    Award: 7,000

    East Liverpool RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) has been providing horse riding lessons and therapy sessions for children and adults with disabilities since 2017.

    Having to stop all lessons and activities as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, they were facing the stark reality of having to permanently close their doors to families across Merseyside until our fund was launched.

    Our investment will help pay for the stabling, feed and care for their seven horses; vital cash to keep the charity operating and supporting disabled children and adults well into the future.

    Pauline Edge, one of the charity’s trustees, emphasised just how much it meant to the organisation:

    "This Sport England funding is an absolute lifeline for us. It allows us to keep and maintain our horses and facility so that we can continue to provide fun and therapy for some of the most vulnerable people in our community once this pandemic is over.

    Our riders, their families and all of our volunteers are delighted that this grant will allow us to continue operating and to provide their safe haven once again.”

    Run by local volunteers, and largely dependent on donations, the charity supports people recovering from illness or injury, and those with long-term disabilities including physical disabilities, autism and down’s syndrome.

    Over the past couple of years, they have brought young people, carers and families from across Liverpool together, providing therapy and lessons from their Merseyside stables and supporting vulnerable riders to improve their balance, co-ordination and confidence, whilst providing valuable social interaction with peers and horses alike.

    Though the ongoing lockdown prevents these usual activities, the team and community around the charity have rallied to keep the community thriving. Creating fun competitions and craft sessions through social media, they have also used regular FaceTime calls to check in on riders and keep everyone connected.

    This £7,000 award will help to cover the charity’s rent, insurance, and supplies for the centre’s seven horses for three months, making sure they are ready to support the disabled community once again.

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  • UiS Community Gym

    Award: £6,600

    Based in Sheffield and launched in 2015, the UiS Community Gym is a sports participation venue / centre that delivers boxing focused projects targeted at key target groups shared by

    Examples of work undertaken by the project over the past five years includes working with mosques and BAME organisations local to the area to deliver boxing training to their attendees and members respectively.

    Beyond being a provider of a space to get active for members of the local community, UiS contracts 12 coaches who are scheduled to deliver sessions over the course of a typical week, including boxing coaches, dance instructors plus yoga and mindfulness coaches.

    The approach to classes taken by UiS is to ensure all members feel comfortable, with their 6000 sq foot premises holding a private studio in which women-only sessions can be hosted along with other sessions where privacy may be appreciated more (another example given was the hosting of LGBT boxing classes).

    The £6,600 that the project has been awarded will cover ‘core cost obligations’: three months of rent (£850 PCM) plus utilities and insurance for the same period (£350 PCM). Funds will also cover payment of a sports co-ordinator and assistant coach for the coming months.

    The UiS state they would have no choice but to close without financial support, stating they have invested heavily in their new premises in what was a leap of faith, with the revenue they aimed to generate in response serving to justify the previous investment.

    In terms of communication and how the organisation has adapted to the pandemic, they are keeping in touch with members via WhatsApp groups, Facebook, text and emails. In addition to this, they are trying to ‘establish an online format’ where they can continue supporting their members. For now, they are posting online workouts which members can access via their Facebook page.


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  • The Emerald Centre

    Award: £10,000

    The Emerald Centre helps more than 10,000 people take part in sport and physical activity every year, with the centre used seven days a week.

    We’ve awarded Leicester’s Emerald Centre £10,000 from our Emergency Community Fund to help them survive the impact of coronavirus.

    With eight sports teams based out of the centre, including football and Gaelic football sides, many people rely on the site to get active.

    Last year users ranged from small babies to people in their 90s, while the centre also provides sessions for people with severe physical and mental disabilities – including advanced dementia.

    Coronavirus has had a major impact on the centre’s income, the majority of which comes from hiring out sports pitches and the on-site café.

    Without our funding, and other business grants, the centre would have had to cut staff or sell assets to cover costs (in excess of £7k per month) – both of which would have impacted its ability to help people when the pandemic is over.

    Despite the current situation the centre has still been a beacon of hope for the local community. Older members have received weekly phone calls from volunteers while hot meals have also been provided via a delivery service. They have also been offered ‘armchair aerobic’ sessions over Facebook.

    The Gaelic football teams have also been providing home and garden-based challenges for members to take part in.

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