Skip to content

New strategy puts sport and physical activity at heart of nation’s recovery

Uniting the Movement is our 10-year vision to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity.

25th January 2021

Helping grassroots sport and physical activity recover from the effects of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and investing in tackling the challenges of the next decade are the cornerstones of our new 10-year strategy.

Launching via an online event on Tuesday 26 January, Uniting the Movement runs through to 2031 but is most immediately focused on helping the people and organisations delivering grassroots sport and physical activity to cope with the pressure of the pandemic.

A boy cries out in joy while paddling in a canoe.


Discover our new strategy.

Uniting the Movement

Immediate impact

As well as announcing our new 10-year vision, we’re also making £50 million available to support this network in 2021 – this is in addition to the £220m of National Lottery and Exchequer funding we’ve already invested in responding to the pandemic since last March. Which, in turn, is just part of £600m the National Lottery has, thanks to its players, made available to support communities across the UK.

More work will be done in the coming weeks and months to understand where to best target this additional funding to ensure as many clubs, organisations and people who help keep the nation active are helped – with a particular emphasis on supporting children and young people to get back involved in sport and activities with confidence.

Long-term vision

Following extensive consultation with the sport and physical activity sector, Uniting the Movement identifies the longer-term challenges of the decade ahead – issues that were still important before Covid-19 struck, but are now crucial.

As its heart, our strategy seeks to tackle long-standing inequalities that have existed within our sector and been reinforced by the disruption of the pandemic.

We know that for certain people, such as disabled people, people from lower socio-economic groups and people from Black and Asian backgrounds, there’s a clear pattern of low levels of activity.

As a result, Uniting the Movement demonstrates our focus on providing more opportunities for those who are being left behind.

"This strategy comes at a critical time. Alongside the National Lottery and government, we have made significant funding available, but many organisations are struggling, and activity levels have taken a significant hit. But amid all that challenge and uncertainty, we believe there are also enormous opportunities to fast-track the role sport and physical activity plays in helping people to live happier, healthier lives.

"With a short-term focus on helping sport to recover from the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, this strategy identifies the other major issues that for the next decade will be a priority. At the heart of all this is a ruthless focus on providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers that stop them from playing sport and being active."

Tim Hollingsworth

Chief executive, Sport England

What we're focusing on

Over the next decade, we’re going to focus our time and resources on three key areas:

Advocating for movement, sport and physical activity

While investing National Lottery and Exchequer money will always be an incredibly important part of our role, over the period of our last strategy we’ve become much more than a funder. Uniting the Movement will therefore see us build on our award-winning behavioural change campaigns like This Girl Can and Join the Movement, as well as seeking to become world-leaders in this area. We’ll also continue to invest more in our highly respected insight and research to help keep the nation active.

Joining forces on five big issues

Stemming from 18 months of extensive consultation involving thousands of people and hundreds of organisations, Uniting the Movement identifies the five big issues that present the biggest opportunities to build a more active nation. Our strategy sets out what areas within each we, alongside our partners, intend to focus on.

Creating the catalysts for change

We’ll invest in improving the skills and capabilities our partners need to make progress possible and drive reforms that make the sector more reflective of our nation. This includes investing and supporting areas such as high-quality data, innovation and digital, and continuing to drive forward reform in sports governance. Alongside UK Sport, we’re currently reviewing the Code for Sports Governance, with initial findings and recommendations due in the coming months.

"Sport England is determined that, led by this strategy which is the result of 18 months of in-depth consultation, we will unlock the advantages of sport and physical activity and truly make it a normal part of life for everyone in England, no matter what their background.

"It recognises the enormous challenges of the past year but seeks to make certain that we do everything possible to ensure that investment and resources reach the people and organisations who need it most so together we can change lives for the better right across the country."

Nick Bitel

Chair, Sport England

The five big issues identified by that extensive consultation are:

The black outline of a cog, with a circular arrow inside it.

Recover and reinvent

Helping sport and physical activity to recover from the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus pandemic and reinventing as a sustainable network of organisations providing opportunities for everyone. This support will be informed both by the specific financial challenges facing partners, as well as the insight collected through our in-depth research projects, allowing support to be targeted where it’s most needed and where the greatest opportunities are.

Connecting communities icon - three circles connected by curved lines on a white background

Connecting communities

Focusing on sport and physical activity’s vital role as part of the fabric of the nation and its ability to make our communities better places to live and bring people together.

Positive experiences for children and young people icon - the black outline of a smiley face on a white background

Positive experiences for children and young people

An unrelenting focus on putting enjoyment at the heart of the experiences of children and young people’s involvement in sport and physical activity, recognising this as the foundation for a long and healthy life.

Connecting with health and wellbeing icon - black outlines depicting two plasters forming a cross, on a white background

Connecting with health and wellbeing

Strengthening further and better than ever before the connections between sport, physical activity, health and wellbeing, so more people can feel the benefits of an active life.

Active environments icon - a black outline of a netball court on a a white background

Active environments

Maximising many of the lessons the pandemic has brought, identifying our role in creating and protecting the places and spaces that make it easier for people to play sport and be active in their local areas.

Uniting the Movement identifies how each of these issues will be addressed, and will be supplemented by a detailed one-year action plan that will be published shortly – followed by a three-year action plan once the current uncertainty passes.

"Sport and physical activity are essential for our health and wellbeing and in helping bring communities together.

"The government is placing sport and physical activity at the heart of its coronavirus recovery plan, and Sport England’s new strategy provides a strong base to invest in sports organisations, facilities and people, and to understand the success of that investment.

"The sector has responded to the significant challenge of keeping people active, with the support of parents, teachers and coaches and I am confident they will continue to drive up activity levels, help to tackle obesity, and build the foundations for both young people and adults to have more active lives."

Nigel Huddleston

Sports Minister

Discover our new strategy.

Uniting the Movement

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.