Sport England have launched a new £16.5 million fund to give additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations who’ve been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of their overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.

"We know clubs accross England have been impacted by COVID and need extra support with getting back afloat. This is a great opportunity to secure the funding to make the adaptions needed to return to full activity" said RYA Regional Development Mananger, Gareth Brookes.

 The Return to Play Fund will especially seek to support those groups and organisations working with audiences we’ve identified as finding it more difficult to be active at this time.

These include:

  • Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities
  • people on lower incomes
  • those disproportionately affected financially as a result of the crisis
  • disabled people and people with long-term health conditions
  • those who are experiencing a greater burden of care responsibilities since the pandemic began.

The fund, which will welcome applications from today, is made up of three parts:

£10m – Return to Play: Small Grants

This will provide grants of between £300 and £10,000 to help sport and activity groups, clubs and organisations respond to the immediate challenges of returning to play in a Covid-19-safe environment.

It’ll help community sport respond to the challenges posed, such as having to deliver in smaller groups, having the correct hygiene and safety equipment and giving training to club volunteers.

It’ll also cover making necessary changes to facilities, supplying additional sports equipment and new signage to meet current government and national governing body rules and guidance.

This will provide grants ranging in value from £10,001 to £50,000. It’ll help local sports clubs and organisations to adapt and open important places and spaces that can help them welcome back their local community safely.

This will include helping groups, clubs and organisations address the challenges they’re facing by:

  • adapting how they use space and improving ventilation
  • converting existing space to meet social distancing requirements, such as additional changing space
  • making improvements to buildings or open spaces for temporary use to get more people active by using a vacant warehouse, shop or community centre.

This crowdfunding initiative will help sports clubs and organisations set up their own campaigns to help sustain them through the crisis.

It’s a great alternative if they don’t meet the priority groups of the other parts of the Return to Play package, and we’ll match crowd funds of up to £10,000 to help cover the loss of income.

The partnership with Crowdfunder will also include advice, guidance and training to help create successful campaigns.