Sport England visits Essex to announce unprecedented investment into local communities nationally, to drive equal access to sport and physical activity

Active Essex

Sport England has today announced a major and unprecedented expansion of its investment into local communities across England to ensure those in greatest need are able to play sport and be physically active.

The launch took place at Waterside Farm Leisure Centre on Canvey Island, Castle Point, which had in attendance Essex County Council Deputy Leader, Essex strategic partners, locally trusted organisations and Essex Chief Executives. The event brought to life the narrative of how this significant investment will build upon the learnings from Essex’s place relationship work, supporting communities with deepened inequalities.

The event was held in Essex, as they showcase their learnings, successes, and challenges of the 3 Active Essex Local Delivery Pilot areas, of Basildon, Colchester and Tendring. Canvey Island, in Castle Point was chosen to host the event, as this provided an excellent example of the type of area where this significant investment can make a difference.

Research published today by Sport England shows that the most active place in England has almost double the activity levels (81%) of the least active place (43%); lifespan could vary by nine years depending on where someone lives; and people living in some poorer neighbourhoods are twice as likely to have a disability or health condition.

To tackle this, Sport England is expanding its Place Partners programme to see up to £190 million of National Lottery and Exchequer funding invested in up to 80-100 new places across England.

An additional £35 million will be invested to strengthen work with Sport England’s existing Place Partners; with up to £25 million being made available to create a Universal Offer for other parts of the country to help tackle inactivity and the associated inequalities that stop people moving more.  This will include taking the learning and impact we have from existing places we are investing in to support others, and ensures that every area of England can access some support.

Targeted local investment and resources will help to increase activity levels, decrease inactivity and breakdown the barriers and inequalities that prevent people from playing sport or being active.

This Place-Based Systemic work will see Sport England partner with 80-100 new places through a network of existing 12 Place Partners and up to 43 Active Partnerships across England, to foster relationships with local organisations and leaders and overcome the specific barriers to physical activity that exist in their communities.

Since 2017, Sport England has tested this place-based approach of working with ‘Local Delivery Pilots’ in 12 of the country’s most disadvantaged and least active communities.  This has included Essex, where particular focus has been in Basildon, Colchester and Tendring.

Combined with investment made through 43 Active Partnerships across England, of which Active Essex is one, Sport England has used funding to target systemic barriers to activity. Consequently, all places have benefited from increased activity amongst the people who are typically less active.  These learnings and insights will now be applied as Sport England rolls out the additional funding over the next five years, and the launch that took place in Canvey Island highlighted many of these.


Sport Minister, Stuart Andrew MP said:

“Our new sports strategy sets out an ambitious aim to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030 and this £250 million investment from Sport England will help make that a reality.

“This targeted place-based funding gives greater access to quality activities and clubs for people of all ages in areas of the country that need it most.

“Keeping active is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing, so it is crucial we continue to break down barriers for people to stay fit and healthy.”


Cllr Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council Deputy Leader said:

“Through the fantastic work of Active Essex, we have ensured that physical activity and sport play a key role at Essex County Council in our levelling up work, as well as other key areas, such as public health, transport, education, and economic development.

Following the announcement today, we are able to continue to enact our ambitious plans, building upon our current work in Basildon, Colchester and Tendring, as well as expanding across the entire county over the coming years to create long term sustainable benefits for Essex residents.”


Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport England, said:

“Access to sport and physical activity in England is still not close to being a level playing field.  Where a person lives and the environment around them has a huge impact on how likely they are to be physically active.  Too often, people in low-income communities don’t have access to the same facilities or opportunities as wealthier areas.

“This is manifestly unfair – and must be addressed as a real priority.  That is why our expanded Place Partnership programme will unashamedly see us target our resources and efforts on communities that need the greatest levels of support and experience the greatest levels of inequality.  We will invest most in those that need it most so that everyone has an equal chance to access the very real benefits of playing sport and be physically active.”