Skip to content

Why we're here

Established by Royal Charter in 1996, we’re determined to give everyone in England the chance to benefit from sport and physical activity.

Our mission

A coach in front of a group of women standing in front of footballs on a pitch.

We want everyone in England regardless of their age, background or level of ability to feel able to take part in sport and physical activity. But too often the people with the most to gain from being active are the least able to take part.

That’s why we’re on a mission to address this injustice and transform sport and physical activity so that people and places everywhere can benefit. We do this by providing expertise, insight and funding that improves the nation’s long term physical and mental health.

Towards an Active Nation strategy

Our Towards an Active Nation strategy outlines what we’re doing to build a more active nation, because we believe that being physically active enriches lives, builds stronger communities and creates a healthier and happier nation.

Read Towards an Active Nation

A group of girls holding a colourful sheet above their heads in a sports hall.

The benefits of being active

At the heart of everything we do and everything we invest in are five health, social and economic

Being active is not just good for you physically, it has the power to do so much more – it can, for example, help prevent or manage medical conditions, reduce anxiety or stress, improve a person’s confidence or self-esteem, or bring people from diverse backgrounds together.

Click the buttons above to read more about each of the five outcomes and the role sport and physical activity can play.

Building an active nation

We have two core objectives as part of our 2017-2021 Towards an Active Nation strategy, with a set of nine priorities sitting across them:

Objective 1:

More people from every background regularly and meaningfully engaging in sport and physical activity

Two women on exercise machines inside a gym.

Our priorities here are:

  • Increasing activity
  • Tackling inequalities for women
  • Tackling inequalities for lower socio-economic groups
  • Decreasing inactivity
  • Volunteering
  • Children and young people
  • Talent.

Objective 2:

A more productive, sustainable and responsible sport sector

A boy riding a bike.

Our priorities here are:

  • Active environments
  • Leadership and governance.

We've also agreed three organisational targets with the government. Between November 2016 and November 2020, we want to increase the number of:

  • People who are regularly active by 500,000 nationally
  • Women who are regularly active by at least 250,000 nationally
  • People from lower socio-economic groups who are more active by 100,000 in targeted locations.
A man and a woman dancing together.

Our next strategy

We have five key themes in our strategy, which we'll publish early in 2021. You can now take part in our final consultation which is taking a deeper look at these themes.

Find out how

Who we are

We're an arms-length body of government responsible for growing and developing grassroots sport and getting more people active across England.

We were established by Royal Charter – which is an instrument of incorporation granted by the Queen – in 1996 as the English Sports Council. We began operating as Sport England the following year. Every Royal Charter is different – you can read ours below.

We’re building an active nation through a combination of National Lottery funding and grant-in-aid from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which classifies us as a non-departmental government body. Around two-thirds of our funding comes from lottery players.

In 2018-19, we invested £260 million of National Lottery and Exchequer funding into projects and programmes that support people to be physically active, with 1,575 individual awards ranging from £300 to £18 million.

What we’ve funded

Every penny we spend ties in to our vision that everyone in England should feel able to take part in sport and activity.

You can see a full list of how and where we’ve invested our money since April 2009 by clicking below.

Young girls playing netball in sports hall

How we're structured


Our Board

Our Board is appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In accordance with the Royal Charter, it consists of a Chair, a Vice Chair, and no more than 10 other members.

Meeting at least six times a year, the Board takes overall responsibility for us and our performance.

Our Board is chaired by Nick Bitel, who was appointed Chair in April 2013.

Meet our Board


Our Executive team

Board members set direction and give our Executive Team, who are responsible for the day to day running of the organisation, support and advice.

The Executive Team is headed by Chief Executive Tim Hollingsworth, who joined us in November 2018 from the British Paralympic Association

Meet our Executive team

Campaigns and our work

Our campaigns

We’re using insight-driven campaigns to help more people become and stay physically active.

Awarded funding

We have a number of open funding programmes. There are also several programmes which we’ve already awarded funding for, all supporting our vision to help get more people physically active.

Strategic work and partnerships

Collaboration runs through everything we do. We partner with thousands of organisations large and small in the traditional sport sector and beyond to help foster real change.

Latest news

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.