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7 Apr 2021 | 11:11

The vital role of volunteers during the pandemic, and in the recovery from it, has been highlighted in a powerful short film published by Sport England which features a host of sporting organisations. 

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE leads the praise and thanks for the “incredible dedication and commitment” of organisations that have gone the “extra mile” to keep services running and remain engaged with their participants despite 12 months of lockdowns and restrictions. 

The film echoes the purpose of the #AdaptSupportRespond initiative from the Sport for Development Coalition, which seeks to highlight how organisations within its growing network have adapted their services to keep supporting individuals and communities in the greatest need. Examples include delivering physical activity sessions online, supporting the wider community through food banks or delivering medicines, and ‘check-in’ telephone calls to reduce isolation.

As in-person services have resumed this month, with Coalition network members observing safe return-to-play guidelines, Baroness Grey-Thompson says sports volunteers should be recognised.  

“We know that the coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult and challenging time.  But we also know this period has brought out the best in us too,” she said.  

“It’s been a time of kindness, of giving, and of selflessness, where people have really stepped up to help their communities.


“To the millions of people helping grassroots sport and activity come through these difficult times, we want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you. Thank you for your incredible dedication and commitment.  Thank you for supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people.     

“You’ve improved lives and helped your communities when they needed you most.” 

Sports clubs and organisations have faced unprecedented challenges over the past 12 months, and the invaluable role of those who give up their time to support the sector has never been more apparent. Across England, six million adults and 1.6 million children and young people volunteer every year to help sport and physical activity happen, and Sport England’s Director of Sport Phil Smith says the support of this workforce will be key in helping sport recover over the coming months.

Dons Local Action Group

“The last 12 months have been an incredibly challenging time for the sport sector, but without the support of huge numbers of volunteers who have stepped up, things would have been significantly harder. 

“With the support of our amazing volunteers, we can help community sport thrive again and to enable people to benefit from all the great things we know sport and physical activity can provide. 

“With many clubs and groups beginning to restart, it is the perfect time to appreciate the amazing efforts of our sector’s volunteers; to say thank you for working so tirelessly to keep their clubs and community organisations going, and for going the extra mile.”


In the short film created by Club Matters, Sport England joins a swathe of national governing bodies of sport and wider partners in a collective message of appreciation to all who play their part in enabling sport and physical activity to take place. Baroness Grey-Thompson says there is reason to be optimistic for the future of grassroots sport, urging volunteers to continue to give their time. 

“The familiar sights and sounds of the sports and activities we love will soon return.  But this can only happen because of volunteers, so please, keep giving whatever time you can – and keep making the difference.”

Pic credit: Dons Local Action Group.