Active Oxfordshire is delighted to be able to grant £50,000 of Sport England funding to eight local charities, targeting areas of greatest deprivation to reach those most in need. This funding boost will help vulnerable people to get active and protect their health, well-being and life chances as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
The funding comes from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund and was awarded to Active Oxfordshire to distribute to local charity partners Access Sport, Age UK Oxfordshire, Aspire Oxford, KEEN, Oxford Hub, Oxfordshire Mind, OXSRAD and Oxfordshire Youth. The charities will use this funding to launch “Active Reach”, a new project designed to be run by the community, for the community.
Creating Active Reach
Active Reach is designed to reduce the negative impact on physical activity levels with a specific focus on supporting people with long term health conditions, people with disabilities, older people, as well as those affected by homelessness and poverty, young people experiencing severe disadvantage and people facing mental health difficulties.
As an Active Partnership with a range of trusted charity partnerships across the county, Active Oxfordshire was able to respond at pace to ensure that Sport England funding was put to work quickly and effectively, to truly meet the ‘here and now’ imperative. We brought together eight local charities to create a targeted place based approach, ensuring that people in the greatest need had access to physical activity opportunities.
Early meetings held with partners showed a real appetite to work together to target the most significant areas of deprivation. Distributing Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities funding in this way enabled us to empower partners to create Active Reach together, as opposed to working in a more siloed way. As one of the partners commented, “We can positively impact so many more residents than if we were to work alone.”
This collaborative approach brings together local charities, grass-roots groups and their army of volunteers that developed in response to COVID, to help people in the greatest need increase their activity levels. They are uniquely placed to extend the reach to their communities, but their reach has been limited directly as a result of COVID-19. By maximising each partners' networks of existing volunteers and their local knowledge and expertise, we can adopt a hyper local approach to ensure priority audiences are targeted and reached.
Furthermore, monitoring and evaluation will be central to this initiative, to understand the impact of Active Reach whilst gathering insight and learning primarily from the communities themselves. This rich learning process will serve to inform development of future initiatives and wider scalable models.
Tackling inequalities where it’s needed most
Oxfordshire’s affluence hides the astonishing fact that there are 10 wards in the county which feature areas in the 20% most deprived in England. These health inequalities are stubborn and enduring and will only be improved by supporting and working with these communities to improve the wider determinants of health, specifically through increased physical activity opportunities. This project will therefore, target areas of greatest deprivation and lowest inactivity levels based on data from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation, Sport England Small Area Estimates and Vulnerability Index, firstly targeting Blackbird & Greater Leys and then taking key learnings to expand initiatives into other most deprived neighbourhoods.
The charities are using a wide range of innovative approaches to reach people and help them to get active, including Aspire Oxford’s Gym Bus, local volunteer networks, bike libraries, sports holiday schemes, virtual walks, young leaders’ training programmes and specialist physical activity resources.
Some early impact of the projects over the summer holiday are;
- OXSRAD were busy keeping children active during the school holidays with their summer sports scheme. Children between the ages of 8 to 16 enjoyed playing a variety of indoor and outdoor sports and activities. Watch the video here, to hear all about what's been going on!
- Access Sport has delivered the first 30 sports equipment packs to families in the Leys. The first 8 children's bicycles were also delivered to Orchard Meadow Primary school this week and cycle training took place for young people attending the Oxford Hub's summer school.
- Aspire Oxford has also been busy over the last 3 weeks with their bright purple Gym Bus making a significant presence and asking the community what types of activities they would like to participate in. Aspire is using their asset of the Gym Bus to support the delivery of physical activity within the target area. On Wednesdays the bus delivers their boxercise sessions on the Blackbird Leys field which are enjoyed by everyone who tooks part. The bus will be parked up every Wednesday to deliver an activity session for anyone aged 16 and over to join in with from 11.30am.
Paul Brivio, Chief Executive of Active Oxfordshire, says:
“It’s more vital than ever that we can keep our community active, healthy and connected during these challenging times. But we also know that the inequality gap is set to widen even further as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to make sure that the most vulnerable people in Oxfordshire aren’t forgotten.
We’ve seen first-hand during the crisis how powerful communities are when they come together. By working with our charity partners who can reach those most in need, we can make sure that everyone in Oxfordshire has the same opportunities to increase their activity levels, health and well-being, at a time when it’s needed more than ever before.”
Quotes from a selection of Active Reach partners:
Oxfordshire Mind: 'We are delighted to have received funding from Sport England for the Active Reach project, which aims to support the residents of Oxfordshire to keep physically active during the current pandemic. Physical activity can have huge benefits for our mental health, as well as our physical health, and so projects like this are vital. We are excited to be working with local partners to bring exciting new opportunities to residents across the county.' Annie Sillence, Oxfordshire Mind
Access Sport: “Access Sport feel privileged to be part of Active Reach. By working with the partnership, we can positively impact so many more residents than if we were to work alone. Our bicycle and sports equipment library will enable young disabled people and young people facing severe disadvantages, to access sports equipment and games. The library will remove financial, travel and space barriers to exercise. Families will be able to choose equipment for themselves that best suit their interests, abilities and space at home. We can’t wait to get started!” Hayley Sanders, Access Sport
Oxford Hub: “Active Reach is a great place-based investment in the Community Impact Zone. We are excited about supporting the coordination of this programme to make physical activity more accessible to everyone in the community. We will also be building on our usual work with children, young people and families to make sure they can be involved in leading the active provision in the community. This involves working closely with families to design and deliver opportunities that fit with their interests and their lives.” Sara Fernandez, Oxford Hub
Aspire Oxford: "This funding from Sport England will enable Aspire to adapt our Gym Bus to deliver socially-distanced and digitally-accessible fitness opportunities to those in need across Oxfordshire. By participating in group active sessions, in person or remotely, beneficiaries in the most isolated and deprived areas of the county can access support to improve their mental and physical wellbeing - regardless of their location or financial situation." Nikki Aitchison, Aspire Oxford
KEEN/Oxfordshire All In: “The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the incredible impact that local communities achieve through working together. I’m delighted to be part of the Active Reach consortia, both as CEO of KEEN and also through my role in the Oxfordshire All In movement, which has brought together over 550 voluntary groups, businesses, organisations, and public bodies in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Active Reach is a perfect opportunity to sustain this collaborative way of working, to ensure that we can reach people in the greatest need across our community and together give them the support they vitally need.” Rupert Da Silva, CEO Keen/Oxfordshire All In
Age UK Oxfordshire: “The inequalities that affect people’s mental and physical health have been hugely amplified by the pandemic – we have definitely not been ‘all in it together’ in quite the same way. We are very aware of the impact it has had and is still having on people in later life, particularly those with pre-existing health conditions, who have been unable to get out and about. This manifests itself in increased difficulties with mobility, low mood and loss of confidence. We are looking forward to working together with the community and a diverse range of community organisations to create opportunities to address these issues.” Penny Thewlis, Age UK Oxfordshire
OXSRAD: “We are so happy that we have been successful in receiving funding from Sport England for the Active Reach Project. We run Multi Sport Holiday Clubs all year round in the school holidays and have always managed to access funding to do this but with the Covid-19 affecting the way we operate we thought that we may have to downsize the Summer Club or cancel it completely. But with this funding we can continue to run a fantastic programme that allows the integration of 8 - 18 year olds with disabilities to take part in a large variety of sports which is affordable to all.” Paul Saxton, General Manager, OXSRAD Ltd