Commonwealth Games funding aims to tackle inactivity

Funds awarded to the Black Country to build Games legacy.

Sport England has announced £1,441,897 of new funding for the Black Country as part of its wider investment into the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The aim of the funding is to tackle inactivity in local communities and engage underrepresented groups, such as people on lower incomes and disabled people – a core part of Sport England’s 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement.

The National Lottery-funded investment has been awarded to the Black Country as part of a £3 million Commonwealth Active Communities Fund. Active Black Country collaborated with a number of partners to secure the funding including the four Black Country Local Authorities, Black Country Together, Black Country Transport, the Black Country LEP and the Canal & Rivers Trust.

The Commonwealth Active Communities Fund was awarded to four West Midlands areas in total – Coventry, Solihull, Birmingham and the Black Country – to support the creation of a wide range of opportunities to help people get active in their local streets and parks. These include cycling and walking programmes, encouraging use of the canal network, expanding volunteering opportunities and supporting social prescribing.

The funding announcement for the Black Country comes as Sport England’s latest Active Lives Survey found inactivity levels in the West Midlands have worsened since the start of the pandemic, with over 100,000 more inactive adults and nearly 70,000 fewer active adults.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is a massive moment for the nation next year and an exciting chance to bring people together through sport and activity. The challenge is turning this into a legacy that has lasting impact and helps people to connect and stay active. Legacy is dependent on the creation of long-term local opportunities for people – at the right location and at the right cost.

“That is why the Commonwealth Active Communities Fund is so important. It’s building the foundations to create change that lasts in the West Midlands – bringing communities together and getting people active in a long-term, sustainable way well beyond the 2022 Commonwealth Games.”

Amanda Tomlinson, Chair of the Active Black Country Board said: “This award is fantastic news for the Black Country and will ensure we can make the most of the impact and legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for all our communities.

“Like all our projects, Active Black Country have worked collaboratively with partners to develop our successful Commonwealth Active Communities plan and reflects the difference we collectively want to make to individuals, communities, places and organisations.”

Naseem Akhtar is the founder of the Sähëlï Hub – a community organisation dedicated to breaking down stereotypes of women in sport, tackling inequalities and supporting local women to socialise and get active through a range of free activities, such as cycling and running clubs. She was selected as a Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ‘Hometown Hero’ for the impact she has made in her community. She said: “Some of our ethnically diverse communities in the West Midlands were amongst those who were worst impacted by Covid-19. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, there has never been a more important time to get people connected and active.

“The Commonwealth Active Communities Fund has the power to change lives because sport and activity can bring people together in an extraordinary way. It can tackle isolation and bond us whilst improving health outcomes at the same time. At Sähëlï Hub, we recently taught an 84-year-old grandmother to ride a bike for the first time, whilst lots of other women cheered her on. The legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games should be one of friendship and community through sport and activity. Anything is possible with the right support – regardless of age, gender, background, community or ability.”