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Transforming the delivery of physical activity locally

In a bold new approach, we're investing in 12 pilot places to build healthier, happier communities

5th December 2017


We've chosen 12 grassroots projects we'll work with on bold new approaches to build healthier, more active communities across England. Around £100 million of National Lottery funding will be invested through these projects in the pilot scheme over four years, to create innovative solutions that make it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.   

By focusing intensely in 12 areas, we want to identify better ways to address these stubborn inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active, such as poor transport, safety, cost and confidence. And we want to encourage wider, collaborative partnerships which look at how all parts of a community can better work together to help the most inactive. From the transport links and street lighting to the quality of parks and open spaces, to how sport and activity is promoted by GPs. Partnerships will encompass organisations beyond the sport sector such as voluntary groups, social enterprises, faith organisations and parenting groups.

Volunteer Cheryl Dixon, 34, a mum-of-two from North Ormesby in Middlesbrough, said: “I volunteer seven days a week in the community hub. We provide a safe space for mental health services to come in and deliver workshops, but ultimately local families and children still don’t have access to activities because they don’t have any disposable income. 

“We’ve still got the same system we’ve had for the last 15-20 years but now the system doesn’t fit society. I believe that if we’re going to make an impact and a sustainable future for the children we’ve got to look at the problem from every angle we can."

By getting families active and outside we’re going to reduce the mental health problems of isolation and depression

Cheryl Dixon

volunteer, Middlesbrough

Jennie Price, Sport England Chief Executive, said: “On our assessment visits to choose the pilot places I was vividly reminded that the barriers to getting active might have little to do with the activity itself, yet this is where we often start.

“I talked to one older lady who was very keen to start swimming again, but to do so she needed someone to sit with her husband who had dementia, a bus that stopped on the right side of a busy junction for the leisure centre, and a session with people like her in the pool rather than lots of children for example.

 “Working with all of the partners in a local area means for the first time we can think about that broader range of issues and work right across the local system to address them.” 

The 12 chosen places were selected following a rigorous selection process with our partners including Public Health England. They cover a mix of geographies (urban, rural and coastal), have a range of make-ups (local authorities, boroughs, counties) and varying population sizes and inequalities to address. They are:


Birmingham and Solihull, Bradford, Calderdale, Doncaster, Essex, Great Exeter, Greater Manchester, Hackney, Pennine Lancashire, Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough, Southall, and Withernsea.  

We'll work closely alongside each place to devise a tailored approach based on the needs of communities. Each place is likely to have its own solutions and will have the support from our expert teams. 

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