Essex has been awarded a “game-changing” National Lottery grant of £10.68 million from Sport England to increase activity levels across Essex. The three-year plan, published today, promised to tackle the inequalities which prevent 391,600 people in Essex from enjoying the physical, social and mental health benefits of an active lifestyle.

Currently, one in four (27%) Essex residents are inactive and carry out less than 30 minutes of physical exercise each week, while people on low incomes are twice as likely to lead sedentary lifestyles (source, Active Lives Survey 2016/17). Getting families, the elderly and people with poor mental health more active is the priority.

The successful bid was made by the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (Essex LDP), which is led by the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board, Active Essex, and more than 20 partners including public, community and voluntary sector organisations.

Essex is one of 12 pilot areas selected by Sport England, with around £100 million of National Lottery funding being invested in the pilots over the next 3 years to build healthier, more active communities.

It is accepted that previous approaches to tackling stubborn inactivity have had mixed results and not been sustainable, so the Essex plan focuses on doing things differently and challenging the root causes of inactivity. In 2018 Essex undertook extensive research to understand what needs to change to help people live more active lives. The findings led to the development of seven strategic priorities and the plan which Sport England has approved, awarding Essex one of its biggest ever National Lottery grants.

Councillor John Spence CBE, Chair of the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board and Chair of the Essex Local Delivery Pilot, said: “The National Lottery award of almost £10.68 million from Sport England is a game changer in helping us create the sustainable change which will benefit individuals, local communities and across wider Essex.”

“This is about public, community and voluntary organisations coming together to tackle the inequalities in our most deprived local communities where we most need to promote the opportunities and benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Public sector organisations in Essex are fully committed to bring about whole system change across health, education, housing, transport and the built environment, tackling the root causes of issues so people can live and work in places which enable them to be physically active – for example cleaning up and improving poorly lit outdoor spaces so they appeal to families or older people.

As part of the project, Essex will share their learning and add to the knowledge base nationally and internationally, of what gets in the way of being active and how community groups, public and voluntary partners can help build relevant activity into people’s daily living.

Basildon, Colchester and Tendring have been chosen as the initial focus for the Essex pilot as each of these has areas where there are high levels of inactivity and associated health inequalities. The pilot will test new ideas and learn quickly, taking successes Essex-wide to supercharge Active Essex’s strategy to get 1 million people active in Essex by 2021.

Essex’s exciting plans include:
● Getting local passionate people involved, who want to create activities in their areas
● Creating active parks, coastal paths and new walking and cycling routes
● Easy access small grants and support for community projects
● Investing in successful voluntary groups and charities to scale up their activities
● Training people in voluntary as well as paid roles, creating thousands of new volunteers, leaders and coaches
● Brightening up buildings, streets and parks to make them attractive places to be active
● World class measurement and evaluation which will be shared UK-wide

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England, said: “Sport and physical activity have the power to transform lives, but we need to find ways that make the choice to get active more practical and appealing in everyday life. We know that across Essex there are many barriers to getting active – for example you are less likely to be active if you are less affluent, a woman or disabled.”

“We need to find new approaches to tackling inactivity and that is why Sport England is investing National Lottery funding into the Essex Local Delivery Pilot. This investment will help Essex lead the way in breaking down barriers to activity making it easier for people to enjoy all of the physical, mental and social benefits of being active. Bringing individuals, community organisations and councils together to tackle these barriers is at the heart of this pilot. We are excited about the emerging plans and look forward to working closely with Essex to test new approaches and implement what works across the whole County.”

The Essex LDP has a dedicated team working closely with local communities in Basildon, Colchester, and Tendring to understand what support people need. It is already working with a number of community groups and citizens and is looking forward to meeting many more to bring the plans to life.

Anyone interested in getting involved should email or telephone 03330 131620, or register interest on the website at