Three sailing organisations in the Midlands have been awarded Sport England funding to tackle inequalities and reduce the negative impact of Covid-19.
The RYA was awarded £150,000 of National Lottery Funding from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund to support sailing clubs and centres across the UK.
Lincoln & District Sailing Association, Midland Sailing Club and the Andrew Simpson Centre in Birmingham are among some 17 Sailability and OnBoard clubs and organisations to have been successful in applying for grants of up to £10,000 from the fund.
Projects supported by the funding are designed to make sailing more accessible for people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to get on the water, including those in lower socio-economic groups, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, disabled people and those with long-term health conditions.
The aim is to help bridge the widening gaps in participation in sport and reduce the negative impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on physical activity and fitness levels.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s Chief Executive, said: “We are proud to be able to provide funding and support the RYA in this difficult period. This funding will help support our valuable community infrastructure that is so important in keeping the nation active and will also provide important connections and reconnections for people whose lives have been affected by Covid-19 and for whom remaining active is so important for their physical, mental and social wellbeing.”
Lincoln & District Sailing Association (LDSA)
LDSA offers RYA OnBoard and Sailability sessions at Hykeham Sailing Club, including working in partnership with nearby SEN school Kisimul. Although activities resumed in September, it was not possible for volunteer-run LDSA to restart sessions with disabled students from the school as a result of Covid-19.
The grant will fund a coach to run 24 weekly sessions up to July 2021 for around 30 participants. The coach will also train volunteers to be able to run the groups to support sustainability for the future.
Howard Nelson from LDSA said: “It’s fantastic to be leading a project with Lincoln and District Sailing Association through the RYA and Sport England Tackling Inequalities Funding. We’re planning to make a real difference to help get people get back to sailing and to help reduce the negative impact of Covid-19 and inequalities in sport.
“Very often young people with special needs don't get the opportunity to try any sort of outdoor activity and far too many have little or no contact with the natural environment. There is a very positive impact of active participation in sporting activity, with all the physical fitness benefits that come with this. Participants will be able to develop enhanced self-confidence, self-esteem, working with others and independence. Attendees will also benefit through coming along and mixing with others within the community.”
Midland Sailing Club
Midland Sailing Club works in partnership with a variety of organisations to tackle inequality and widen access to sailing for adults and children with disabilities and people from BAME communities through its innovative ‘Sail Birmingham’ initiative.
Sailing, windsurfing and paddle-boarding activities resumed in summer and the grant from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund will support further additional participation throughout 2021 across five key areas, including:
Andrew Simpson Centre Birmingham
The Andrew Simpson Foundation (ASF) runs four, not-for-profit centres across the UK, including a centre for Birmingham based at Bartley Sailing Club, with each location running six Community Sailing Programmes to inspire young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
The Aiming High programme is specifically tailored to young people who have physical or learning disabilities, providing fun, safe and accessible sailing, and also focusing on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, using sailing to boost their sense of self-worth.
A grant of £10,000 will enable 30 young people across the four ASF centres to attend the Aiming High programme to learn how to sail. The 10 who benefit most will then be invited to a heavily subsidised Improver Sailing Course, and their family also encouraged to participate with access to sessions and support to continue sailing by joining a centre.
Ruth Brady, Fundraising Officer, said: “Young people living with physical or learning disabilities, or struggling with their mental health, will have found these past few months particularly challenging. We want to see the Aiming High programme have a positive, long term impact on participants.”
The Sport England Tackling Inequalities Fund is designed to deal with the ‘here and now’ issues caused as a result of Coronavirus by supporting organisations working with priority audiences.
It follows surveys commissioned by Sport England after restrictions on exercising and guidelines around social distancing were introduced in late March, assessing activity levels and attitudes. Early insights revealed that certain groups of people were being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, significantly impacting their ability to be physically active.
The RYA was allocated a share of the funding and invited clubs and centres to apply for grants to support projects involving its RYA OnBoard and Sailability programmes.
RYA Director of Sport Development, Alistair Dickson said: “The venues selected are all going to be running fantastic projects and we look forward to hearing about the impact that they will have on the club or centre and on the underrepresented communities which they aim to reach.”