An additional £50 million of support for grassroots sport is at the heart of a new Sport England strategy aimed at tackling inequalities in sport and enabling people from all backgrounds to get more involved in sport and physical activity.

The new ten-year strategy, titled ‘Uniting The Movement’, is intended to level up access to sport and physical activity and to help address the long-standing inequalities which have the disabled, those from BAME backgrounds and those from lower-income groups left without the opportunity to get involved.

In a portion of the strategy titled ‘Recover and reinvent’ Sport England also recognised the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on widening these existing inequalities:

“For too long, people with the most to gain from being active have been the least able to take part. As a result of the huge disruption 2020 has caused, and the inequalities it’s reinforced or even exacerbated – such as those around socio-economic status and ethnicity – our drive to do things differently and confront these inequalities head on is stronger than ever.”

Recent research by StreetGames has shown that those young people in low income areas have been hit hardest by lockdown, and highlighted the vital role that community sports organisations have played in supporting their neighbourhoods through the current crisis.

Commenting on the new strategy, Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said:

“At the heart of all this is a ruthless focus on providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers that stop them from playing sport and being active.”

StreetGames has long recognised the challenges children and young people in disadvantaged communities face when it comes to accessing sport and physical activity. With only £3.21 to spend on sports activities per week – compared to the national average of £12.11 – struggling families just can’t afford to keep pace. Opportunities to engage are not equally shared across the country and for many young people the high cost and lack of availability of traditional sport clubs are a serious barrier.

Mark Lawrie, CEO of StreetGames, said:

“We’re delighted that Sport England are putting these longstanding inequalities front and centre in their plans to get more people engaged in sport and physical activity.

We all know that sport and physical activity is vital to supporting young people’s health and wellbeing, but it is also a powerful tool to improve lives and open up opportunities. That is why it is so important that every community has the support and the resources they need to take part.

Sport England’s ambition to level up communities and improve access to grassroots sport is hugely encouraging and we look forward to working alongside them to transform lives and strengthen communities through sport.”