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Sport England’s Return to Play Fund launched

Sport England has launched a new £16.5 million fund to provide additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of our overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.
The fund will especially seek to support those groups and organisations working with audiences identified as finding it more difficult to be active at this time.
There are three funding programmes: The first two are the pre-existing funds re-purposed for Covid response while the third one is Sport England’s new crowd-funding approach introduced as a Covid response initiative in May 2020.

£10m – Return to Play: Small Grants

Small Grants (£300 to £10,000) – designed to help small groups/clubs respond to the challenges of returning to play in a Covid-safe environment – so playing in smaller groups, providing appropriate hygiene and safety equipment (including PPE) and training club officials in safe supervision and so on. The fund will also cover physical changes needed to facilities, new signage and any additional sports equipment needed to make playing safer according to government guidance

£5m – Return to Play: Community Asset Fund

Community Asset Fund (£10,001 to £50K) – a capital fund designed to help groups physically adapt and re-open existing premises so they can welcome back their users safely – e.g. alternative entry/exit and one way system, improved ventilation, additional changing/showering facilities etc.

The fund will also cover the adaptation and use of any additional temporary local facilities that could be adapted to accommodate users in a socially distanced way. Please note: although not explicit in the Sport England criteria, feedback from groups applying for capital funding from Sport England in the past indicates you may be expected to raise contributions from other sources towards any larger applications to this fund. This fund does not cover football-only projects.

£1.5m – Return to Play: Active Together
Active Together Crowdfunding Initiative (up to £10K match-funding) – this fund is designed for groups which Sport England don’t classify as being amongst the most vulnerable priority groups indicated below. It should also help groups address losses in revenue and can cover contribution to running costs like rent, utilities etc. Advice and guidance on running an effective crowd-funding campaign is provided via their website. As well as helping you raise funds from your local community crowd-funding can also be a very effective method of raising your clubs profile and encouraging new members.

The Return to Play Fund will especially seek to support those groups and organisations working with audiences we’ve identified as finding it more difficult to be active at this time.

These include:

  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
  • people on lower incomes (i.e. those within the top 30% most deprived wards* on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation – IMD)
  • those disproportionately affected financially as a result of the crisis
  • disabled people and people with long-term health conditions
  • those who are experiencing a greater burden of care responsibilities since the pandemic began (e.g. carers)

Read more and apply here. 

Sport England updated Coronavirus advice
If you are interested in applying, please see Sport England’s new Covid advice page interpreting the new 3 tier system and associated Government guidance on the Sport England website which can help groups to design (and cost up) an appropriately Covid safe response.