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Sports projects receive £4.4m funding boost to attract new volunteers

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Sport England has announced plans to invest £4.4m (US$5.87m, €4.92m) to recruit a new generation of volunteers who will benefit communities across the country.

Thirty-two projects will receive National Lottery funding to help them encourage more women, disabled people, young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to volunteer for sport and physical activity initiatives.

The move is part of an overall investment in volunteering of £30m, under Sport England’s strategy ‘Towards an active nation’.

“Volunteers make such a difference to grassroots sport – without them it would simply not happen,” said minister for sport Tracey Crouch.

“This funding will encourage young people to get involved in sports volunteering, having a hugely positive impact on their lives, the lives of others and benefiting their local community."

Sport England director of sport Phil Smith added: “Volunteering and taking part in social action can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends.

“These projects will test various different approaches, with the ultimate aim being a larger number and more diverse volunteers. We’re focusing on people who are currently less likely to volunteer in sport, such as women, disabled people, people from BAME groups and people on a low income.”

Sport England’s Active Lives Survey showed 6.7 million people (14.9 per cent of the population in England) have volunteered at least twice in the past year to support sport and physical activity.

However, while people from lower socio-economic backgrounds make up 31 per cent of the population, they only represent 10 per cent of volunteers.

The new cash injection sees two types of fund created: Opportunity Fund projects will focus on people aged 20 and over from economically disadvantaged communities; and Potentials Fund projects will target children and young people aged 10 to 20 who want to help their community.

The projects include Play Gloucestershire, which will support children from disadvantaged and isolated rural communities by turning local green spaces into places for sport and physical activity; and Small Heath Boxing Club, which will support adults suffering from mental health conditions who live in areas of high deprivation in Birmingham.

Another beneficiary, Test Valley Community Services, will recruit military veterans as volunteers in sport and physical activity, harnessing the diverse range of skills they learned during their service.

In its effort to reach a younger audience Sport England has also teamed up with the #iwill Fund, which creates opportunities for 10 to 20 year-olds to get involved in social action as a way to benefit others in their community.

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Sport England has announced plans to invest £4.4m (US$5.87m, €4.92m) to recruit a new generation of volunteers who will benefit communities across the country.
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Sports volunteers experience the dual benefit of social impact and personal fitness / Shutterstock
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