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30 Nov 2020 | 15:15

The Sport for Development Coalition has committed to helping the sport and development community access “all avenues of support currently available” for the wider social outcomes that it delivers.

Ollie Dudfield, Executive Director of the Coalition, was speaking in response to the significant momentum behind the ‘Save Our Sports’ campaign and announcements made in the Government Spending Review 2020 last week.

With as many as one in four community sport organisations facing closure because of the Coronavirus pandemic, numerous campaigns have been launched with the aim of securing more central funding and support.

APPLICATIONS

As an interim measure the Coalition is encouraging sport for development organisations to explore funding pots made available recently, such as the £16.5million ‘Return to Play Fund’ which is part of Sport England’s £220million response to the pandemic. This fund prioritises projects located in areas of high deprivation, including rural areas, and is now open for applications.

In addition the Government has announced a new £16.5million fund to support grassroots and youth organisations affected by pandemic restrictions. The Youth Covid-19 Support Fund, which will be open to grassroots youth clubs and national umbrella organisations, aims to help mitigate the impact of lost income during the winter period due to the pandemic, and ensure services providing vital support can remain open.

As part of last week’s Spending Review 2020, the Government announced a range of additional measures relevant to the outcomes that many sport for development organisations deliver.

SUPPORT

These include confirmation of a £2billion commitment to the Kickstart Scheme to create subsidised jobs for young people and the announcement of a £2.9billion Restart programme to provide intensive support to help unemployed people find work. Government also committed an increase of the schools budget by £7.1 billion by 2022-23, while the £4billion Levelling Up Fund and £1.5billion for UK Shared Prosperity Fund, include investment in community and sporting facilities that help create new opportunities and spur regeneration, with a particular focus on ex-industrial areas, deprived towns and rural and coastal communities.

These announcements were in addition to a £60million provision for Sport England to invest in increasing participation in sport and support community projects.

In light of these recent Government announcements and to assist the organisations who drive these outcomes, the Sport for Development Coalition is launching a targeted programme of research, support and communication to track the ongoing impact of sport for development and assist supporter organisations to exhaust all options around funding and other support that has already been made available.

CAPACITY-BUILDING

In previewing the scheme, the Coalition’s Executive Director, Ollie Dudfield, said: “We know that community sport and sport for development organisations – including many that have been serving their local communities for many years – face a very difficult and uncertain few months.

“In response we will be extending our work quantifying the ongoing impacts of the pandemic on the sector as well as supporting organisations to understand and access all avenues of support currently available, from funding to guidance on the tier system and capacity-building.

“This way, when we come together again early next year, we can say without any shadow of a doubt what is required to sustain the essential community services delivered by sport in our communities, and keep them strong and thriving.”

LEARNING

This programme will begin on December 17 with an End-of-Year Forum entitled ‘Spotlight on 2021’, designed to share collective learning from the past year and input into the Coalition’s priorities for the year ahead.

The online forum will feature open discussions and live polls, plus the chance to put questions to some special guests and interact with colleagues across the sector.

In this recent article, Ollie explains some of the thinking behind the targeted programme, and argues that the sector must play its part – for example by creating efficiencies through greater collaboration –  alongside outlining the case and need for any further investment and support from Government.