Sport England
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Investing in sporting opportunities for rural communities

Sport England recently unveiled a £10 million investment fund that will create sporting opportunities for people in rural areas.

The first in a series of themed funding rounds, it will open for business on 1 April 2009.

Themed rounds will enable us to tackle specific challenges and opportunities that we know exist in grassroots sport as well as helping to ensure that our investment is effectively distributed across the country and across different communities.

People in rural communities are the focus of the first round because we know they face particular barriers to participating in sport, such as reduced choice in the sports available to them and transportation issues getting to and from facilities. Sport England’s Active People Survey 2 shows that two thirds of the local authorities with the lowest sports participation rates are in rural areas.

We also know that there are specific challenges for organisations and communities delivering sport in rural England; small and declining local populations and higher costs, for instance, can hinder sustainable local sporting provision.

The Rural Communities Themed Round will give a wide range of organisations, from local authorities to sports clubs and smaller community groups, an opportunity to develop and deliver new and innovative projects to overcome these barriers to both participation and supply.

Successful bids will make significant contributions to two of Sport England’s strategic outcomes: growing participation in grassroots sport and sustaining participation by improving the quality of people’s sporting experience.

Dr Stuart Burgess, Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities, said:

“I am delighted Sport England is investing such a substantial sum in our rural communities. This will come as a welcome boost to people living in rural areas facing a tough time in the teeth of the recession. I hope the funding will bring forward many creative ideas that will help overcome barriers, such as access to transport, that rural people face in taking part in sport.”

The minimum grant available will be £10,000, but in order to maximise the positive effect on sport in rural areas, Sport England is explicitly encouraging high value, high impact projects. A significant proportion of the successful bids are expected to be projects requiring National Lottery funding of more than £500,000.

Notes to Editors

A detailed application prospectus for the Rural Communities Themed Round will be available on Sport England’s website by 1 April 2009, and there will be a three-month window for outline applications. The second themed round will be announced by 1 September 2009 and will open for business in October 2009.

The development of the themed rounds - and the other funding streams set out in Sport England’s funding strategy, Funding sport in the community – has benefited from the recent public consultation on National Lottery investment in grassroots sport.

Click here to read Funding sport in the community, which includes more details on each of Sport England’s funding programmes.

Sport England will define rural communities on the basis of the Government’s Rural and Urban Areas Classification.

Sport England is a non-departmental public body and National Lottery distributor. We are committed to creating a world-leading community sports development system and increasing participation in sport. Sport England’s annual budget (lottery and exchequer) is c£250m.

Sport England’s new strategy was launched on 10 June 2008 and commits Sport England to deliver on a series of demanding targets by 2012/13:
  • one million people doing more sport
  • a 25% reduction in the number of 16-18 year-olds who drop out of at least five key sports
  • improved talent development systems in at least 25 sports
  • a measurable increase in people’s satisfaction with their experience of sport – the first time the organisation has set such a qualitative measure
  • a major contribution to the delivery of the five hour sports offer for children and young people.

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