Big Lottery Fund
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Lottery funding opens top-notch sports facilities to wider community

The number of people enjoying Lottery-funded sports facilities has taken a big leap forward with research announced today showing that 41 percent of pupils say their family uses the same school facilities they do to take part in physical activity.

Findings from a six-year evaluation by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) into the impact of its £751 million New Opportunities for PE and Sport (NOPES) programme show a sharp rise in the community usage of BIG-backed sports facilities in an average week. The number of people using them as part of community groups and sports clubs has almost trebled during the period, that on top of the lessons run during school hours.

The NOPES funding began to roll out in 2002 with a total of £751 million to distribute across the UK on providing first class sports facilities. To date 2,980 separate sites have been funded which range from outdoor activity centres to new or refurbished sports facilities at primary and secondary schools.

An impressive 81 percent of pupils now take part in two hours of PE and school sport each week compared to 71 percent six years ago, and fun, socially-engaging activities have helped attract pupils who were previously inactive. Both staff and pupils reported that NOPES facilities have helped create an environment in which pupils have more opportunities to succeed and achieve in a wide range of sports and outdoor pursuits such as kayaking, swimming and high ropes courses.

BIG commissioned the Loughborough Partnership, led by the Institute of Youth Sport, to evaluate the NOPES programme. The findings of this independent study show that better quality equipment is now on offer for school pupils and community groups, and that there are far greater opportunities for pupils to participate in activates that were previously unavailable to them.

The activities with the greatest increase in availability during curriculum time were table tennis (12 per cent), volleyball (12 per cent), tennis (12 per cent), badminton (10 per cent) and dance (9 per cent). The range of sports made available to the community outside of schools hours has also more than doubled with Wake-Up Clubs, circuit training and indoor athletic events all getting people moving, whatever their age and ability.

Peter Wanless, Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive, said: “Over £750 million of BIG Lottery Fund cash has been channelled into first class sports facilities across the UK, giving thousands of people new opportunities to get active and participate in a wide range of sports not previously available to them.

“This research has shown that accessible local facilities can inspire many of those least interested in sport to get out, get active and improve their health in first rate surroundings.”

Former England cricketer, Darren Gough, honed his talent for fast bowling and batting whilst still at school, and dazzled the judges when winning the popular Strictly Come Dancing TV talent show in 2005. He says: “You can’t underestimate the importance of having quality sports facilities in and around our local communities. The impact that Lottery funding has had both in terms of providing opportunities to develop talent and keeping people fit and healthy is huge. NOPES has helped bring about a great change in the range of sports available to thousands of people – something I could only have dreamed of when I was a kid.”

In 2003, Hartcliffe School in Bristol received £1.4 million for new state-of-the-art sports hall that has since become the focus for gymnastics, dance and martial arts in the area.

The centre offers something for every member of the community, but has had a huge impact on local young people with special needs. Some of the pupils that regularly use the hall have even gone on to earn prestigious places in the Great Britain gymnastics squad.

Finding space for sport was a problem for Grantham Central Technology and Sports College in Lincolnshire before it received £1.05 million in 2004 from NOPES. As a result of its grant, the school was awarded Sports College status and became a specialist badminton academy. More students are now taking up GCSE Sport and new qualifications such as BTEC in Sports Leadership. The college has links with a local badminton club, who use the facilities and, in exchange, provide a qualified club coach so pupils can learn from the experts.

The report also found:

  • Effective partnership working has made a substantial contribution to the achievement of the NOPES outcomes.
  • The quality of PE and school sport has been enhanced and the new facilities have attracted pupils who were previously inactive.
  • The number of different activities available to the community has increased from an average of 5.2 per project site prior to opening to 10 per project site post-opening.
  • The programme has made a positive impact on pupils’ attitudes and behaviours and led to young people becoming more engaged in school.
  • 82% of pupils reported that the new facilities have improved the appearance of their school and 74% of pupils agreed the new facility has made them feel prouder of their school.

The full report is available from

Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone: 0845 6021 659

Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website:


Notes to Editors

  • The NOPES funding began to roll out in 2002. A total of £751 million was available for the programme across the UK. To date 2,980 facilities have been funded across the UK, ranging from outdoor activity centres to new or refurbished facilities at schools. All funding for the programme has now been committed.
  • The NOPES evaluation conducted by the Loughborough Partnership for the Big Lottery Fund based figures on an average one year after each facility opened. The one-year varies for each project due to the start date of the project.
  • £25 million to support the joint Lottery and Government £134 million Space for Sport and Arts programme. The DCMS, DfES, Sport England, the Arts Council and the Big Lottery Fund joint programme has given funds to almost 300 primary schools nation-wide to modernise or build new multi-use halls, areas that cater for a range of sports on one site, all-weather pitches and new music and arts studios.  
  • £30 million was awarded to the Football Foundation for football specific projects.
  • The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out half the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since June 2004. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £23 billion has now been raised and more than 317,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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