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Open call for innovative solutions to tackle inequalities

We're looking to help address existing issues that have been worsened by the effects of coronavirus.

10th June 2020

We’re calling out for innovative solutions to reduce inequalities and help those most affected by the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) to get active.

The call, that will last for two weeks, is aimed at individuals or organisations that can help break down barriers to activity that have long-existed but have been exacerbated by coronavirus.

Successful applicants will be supported by us with a combination of advice, further training, insight, access to connections across the industry, and funding.

Marking on the floor to help people social distance

We’re looking for solutions from individuals and organisations specifically developed to support women, people on low incomes, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, disabled people or people living with long-term health conditions.

These solutions should address at least one of the following challenges, as they’re the most likely to be affecting our target groups:

  • Changes in circumstances: when faced with change due to financial pressures or increased caring responsibilities, certain groups may no longer feel able to invest time and/or money, or may lack the headspace needed to think about, plan, or invest the effort it takes to be active.
  • Mental health: certain groups of people are more likely to be experiencing new or worsening feelings of depression, stress, loneliness or anxiety, reducing their likelihood to be physically active.
  • Digital exclusion: faced with a continued period of enforced social distancing or isolation, people who are unable to, or who do not have access to digital channels, may not have the opportunity to be physically active.

We want to help these audiences quickly and as such, organisations or individuals that have existing products and are aiming to help our specific audience groups will be prioritised.

And our chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, is keen to try new methods in our attempts to reduce inequalities in activity levels.

“We believe that now is the time to act, innovate and do things differently to affect positive change,” he said.

“We know from our long-standing research that there are major inequalities within society, with too many of us not able to access activity in the same way and missing out on the health benefits.

“These inequalities aren’t new, but they are being exacerbated by the pandemic and brought to life by the Black Lives Matter campaign, which is why we want to act now to ensure they don’t get worse.    

“We believe that innovation can play a fundamental role in helping people overcome these challenges so they can lead more active lives, and in turn help tackle the inequalities that exist within society.  

“What is important to reinforce is that innovation doesn't have to be complicated.

“Small ideas that are local, simple and start with people at the heart can be the most effective."

We believe that now is the time to act, innovate and do things differently to affect positive change

Tim Hollingsworth

Sport England chief executive

Due to the speed with which we want to act, we’re looking for products or solutions that are already worked up and ready to deliver a positive impact within the next six months.

In order to be successful, applicants should be considering the following:

  • You’ll have addressed one of our three challenges stated above, rather than thinking broadly about promoting sport and physical activity. 
  • You’ll be disrupting the current way of doing things.  
  • You’ll have put people's needs at the heart of your innovation – you might’ve consulted with your communities to find out about the challenges to being active they face, and then designed your product with specific solutions in mind. 
  • You won’t have just thought digital or about apps. Many of our audiences either aren't connected to digital or don't like to use it to receive information, so consider how else to engage them. 
  • Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. You might have a whole new product, a new way of delivering an existing product or a tiny change that has a big effect.

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