Sporting chances

From a kickabout in the park to a fitness class in the community centre, participation in sport creates stronger bonds between people, and the benefits for mental health and reducing social isolation are matched by the obvious health benefits.

Sport and physical activity have the power to create communities and forge positive relationships.

For the past five years, Sanctuary has been working in partnership with Sport England and a range of project partners across the country to create great neighbourhoods through sport and physical activity.

Our Love Sport programme has supported people in the communities where we work to be more active and develop a passion for sport and fitness.

We matched Sport England’s £254,000 investment in the programme and delivered 135 individual projects for people aged 14 and over, working with over 60 community partners.

Football sessions, boxing classes, Zumba and badminton were just a few of the activities delivered.

We also saw sessions delivered in our care homes for our older residents through chair-based activity classes.

We’re delighted to have engaged over 3,000 people in the range of sessions, with around 1,300 of these new to taking part in sporting activities.

But the benefits go beyond improving health and learning new skills.

Through the programme, we have demonstrated how physical activity has a role to play in developing self-esteem, building human capital and empowering individuals to achieve amazing outcomes for themselves and those around them.

Nearly 1,000 participants have told us they have an increased confidence in managing their own health, and over 800 have expressed an increased sense of belonging to their neighbourhood.

Now we are going further.

If we can encourage healthy habits in children and young people, we are more likely to be able to encourage healthy habits in their parents and family members.

Through families, we can reach more people and have an even more lasting impact, so we are thrilled to have been awarded £277,000 from Sport England’s Families Fund, alongside Sanctuary’s investment, to make our ambitions real.

Designed to get families participating in physical activity together, and entirely led by residents, the funding has seen the creation of a programme called ‘What’s Your Game?’, which will work with families to design activities for themselves and their communities.

Locally appointed community facilitators will engage with over 600 families, predominantly including five-to-10-year-old children, in Sheffield, Hull, Ely, Paignton and Torquay, to help them explore how activities can be built into everyday life as part of quality family time.

The programme will also demonstrate how boosting participation in sport and physical activities has a positive impact on health, helping improve the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and bringing associated benefits for communities and wider society.

Nicole Seymour is Group Director of Corporate Services at Sanctuary Group.