St Helens Council wins National Lottery funding to help people on a low income become active

The cheque for £125,000 was presented at a recent Couch to 5k sessions at Sutton Leisure Centre.

A pioneering project by St Helens Council to help local people on a low income become more active and healthier has won National Lottery funding from Sport England.

The council’s Sports Development Team has been awarded £125,000 funding as part of Sport England’s strategy to improve people’s health and mental wellbeing through sport and activity.

The St Helens project will focus on providing a variety of low cost activities across the borough, including the award-winning Couch to 5k initiative, beginner fitness sessions and family multi-sport sessions.

St Helens.Sport England is funding a wide range of projects around the country, using varying approaches to help people to feel healthier, happier, more confident and able to cope with life’s pressures, or more connected to their families and communities.

Sport England research shows that a third of people in lower paid and routine jobs, are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week. And inactivity in people in lower paid, routine jobs is twice that of people on a high income in senior and managerial roles.

St Helens Council has been working closely with St Helens Citizen’s Advice Bureau to help ensure the project reaches those who need support the most.

Gemma Harkness from St Helens Sports Development, who will manage this new programme, said “We are incredibly excited to have this opportunity to support our residents to become more active, removing barriers such as high costs and delivering sessions out in the community. Our new partnership with St Helens Citizen’s Advice Bureau will provide new ways of engaging local people and will help us better understand their needs.”

Sport England Executive Director, Mike Diaper, said: “St Helens Council has a strong track record of working with their local community and we’re very excited by how their project will make a positive difference to people’s lives.

“We know that people on a low income can face many practical and emotional challenges that make it difficult for them to be as active as they would like to be. So we’re working with community-focused organisations across the country to find ways to help people fit physical activity and sport into their lives in ways that work for them.

“The lessons we learn from this local project will really help to shape our work with similar groups across the country.”

St Helens Council’s portfolio holder for leisure services, Councillor Anthony Burns, said: “Our Sports Development Team does a fantastic job of getting out into our communities to introduce members of the public to the benefits of sports and exercise – and this funding will contribute to a ground-breaking project that will assist in even more people getting active.

“This project delivers much more than just getting people active, it is changing people’s lives, attracting participation from all ages and abilities and increasing confidence and general well being. A lot of this is down to the enthusiasm and energy brought to the projects by Gemma Harkness who is a tremendous asset to the sports development team along with a fantastic team.”

Main photo – The cheque for £125,000 was presented at a recent Couch to 5k sessions at Sutton Leisure Centre.


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