£4m lifeline fund launched to save and rebuild community sport
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A new fund of up to £4m has been launched by Sport Wales to help grassroots sports clubs and community organisations.
The new ‘Be Active Wales Fund’ will provide a major source of support to protect community clubs and organisations that have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and help them prepare to re-start activities safely.
The grant funding has been made possible thanks to Welsh Government and repurposed money from the National Lottery, which continues to be one of Welsh sport’s biggest supporters. During the last two months, more than 600k of emergency funding has already been awarded by Sport Wales to help over 300 clubs that were in immediate financial danger.
Now, thanks to the Be Active Wales Fund, even more clubs can safeguard their future by applying for a grant of between £300 and £50,000. Grassroots sports clubs and organisations at risk of folding because of the Covid-19 crisis may need funding to help pay rent, utility costs, insurances or any fixed costs they may have for facility or equipment hire.
Whereas some sports, such as golf and tennis, have begun to re-start their activities by following safety guidance published by their respective National Governing Bodies, others like football and rugby are awaiting the green light to resume. Community clubs and organisations will be able to apply to the Be Active Wales Fund to help them make any adaptations which are necessary to ensure activities are safe. Sport Wales Chief Executive Sarah Powell said: “Grassroots sport has been hit incredibly hard. Thankfully, emergency funding has already saved a huge number of clubs, and we’re pleased to be able to launch this new fund which will provide even more support at a time when it is so badly needed. “Our clubs and groups are crucial in keeping the people of Wales active. If they don’t stay afloat or they can’t reopen safely, we can expect another crisis – that of inactivity and ill-health. We must not let that happen. Clearly, clubs will need to adapt many of their activities so that they fully adhere to health guidelines and social distancing requirements. The Be Active Wales Fund will help make that possible.” Sarah added: “Whilst it is heartening to see the essential importance Government has placed on exercise during this pandemic, research has found that many of the inequalities which already existed in sports participation have unfortunately been intensified during lockdown, notably for those living in deprived areas. “A reduction in young people’s activity levels has been particularly worrying, so it is essential that we work with our partners such as National Governing Bodies and Local Authorities to ensure that the Be Active Wales Fund reaches those communities and groups who need it most. This is a collective opportunity to renew and reimagine what sport can, should and will have to be in the future.” So that activities can resume while social distancing is still a necessary precaution, financial support may be needed to provide a higher ratio of coaches/volunteers to participants. There may also be increased costs incurred as a result of clubs needing to hire out larger spaces for activities to take place safely. Others, meanwhile, may require financial assistance to help them adapt their facilities to implement one-way systems, for example. Countless numbers of organisations across Wales have shown their ability to move with the times during lockdown by embracing digital technology to engage with their members online. It could be that clubs wish to apply for funding to help them expand their provision digitally, or provide online booking platforms.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “As more and more activities begin a phased return, this funding will play a crucial part in helping to unite our communities once more through sport and physical activity. Our grassroots sports clubs and community organisations will play a huge role in looking after the nation’s physical and mental health as we recover from this time. The caveat of a return to activity is, of course, that it will look different, and small steps will be needed as we steadily get back to some sort of normality.” Charities and organisations, including sports clubs, across the UK that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of the Covid-19 outbreak are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This will support some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and span the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.
Highlighting the importance of The National Lottery’s support to communities throughout Wales, including the sport sector, John Rose, Chair of the Wales National Lottery Forum, said: “The distributors of National Lottery funding in Wales are acutely aware of the unprecedented impact that Covid-19 is having across the communities we support. We have been amazed how community groups of all types have pulled together to help out in their communities.
“As funders, we are working tirelessly to support the projects we fund and mitigate the effects as far as possible during this difficult time. We want to reassure our communities that we are still here, we’re still making awards and we’d like to thank players of The National Lottery for their ongoing support, which is enabling us to make funding available to people and communities affected by the pandemic.”
As well as launching the £4m Be Active Wales Fund, Sport Wales has also allocated up to £4.5m to provide a strategic fund to support existing partners such as National Governing Bodies (e.g. Welsh Rugby Union, Welsh Athletics, Football Association of Wales, Welsh Netball), Local Authorities, and other national partner organisations (e.g. Urdd, Street Games), as well as not-for-profit Leisure Trusts that operate many leisure centres and other sports facilities across Wales. Full information about the Be Active Wales Fund, including details on how to apply, can be found at www.sport.wales/beactivewalesfund Applications will open at midday on Tuesday 7 July.