October 21, 2020

Sport England launches £16.5 million Return to Play Fund

A new £16.5m fund from Sport England will give additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Sport England Return to Play Fund will support groups, clubs and organisations that have been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle Covid-19, and is part of the organisation's overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.

Sport England's Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, said: "A key priority for us has been to support our sector and all those who deliver sport and activity,” he added. "The disruption we've all experienced over the past few months has been unprecedented, with the ability to be active being just one way we've been affected, particularly at a time when keeping active and healthy has never been more important.

"With ever changing restrictions and measures being put in place throughout England, there is a continuing urgent need for us to try and support grassroots organisations to put in place the necessary support to safely get everyone active in local areas over the coming months.”

The Return to Play Fund, which welcomes applications now, is made up of three parts:

£10m 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.

£5m Community Asset Fund

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.

£1.5m Active Together

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.

The Return to Play Fund will especially seek to support those groups and organisations working with audiences that Sport England have 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


Don't forget, archery clubs struggling to cope with the impact of the pandemic are also invited to apply for Archery GB's Rebuild Activity Fund. So far, more than £6,000 has been awarded to support clubs rebuild their activity levels, and it's not too late to apply!

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