Through Together Fund, Sport England and the National Lottery is providing community organisations with extra support to help local people get active.
County Durham Sport supported Smile Through Sport with their successful Together Fund application. This is their story.
Smile Through Sport was founded to provide the opportunity for disabled people of all ages across the North East to access high quality sport and physical activity. Their Together Fund project focused on delivering physical activity within care home settings. They aimed to get care home staff involved so that they could continue the sessions in the future, creating sustainability and long-term change in access to physical activity for vulnerable residents.
We asked Smile Through Sport to reflect on how things have been going.
What’s been going well?
All groups who have been engaged through the project were classed as extremely vulnerable through the pandemic and had to shield for longer. This project gave them the opportunity to engage in activities again and allow providers into their settings. So, the impact for the individuals in terms of being active again has been massive, but the chance to socialise with new and other people has been extremely valuable too.
“We are delighted to welcome you into Stoneleigh to support our residents. They have absolutely loved the sessions, full of fun and laughter.” Home Administrator, Care Home.
What’s been challenging?
The challenge for Smile Through Sport was narrowing down the care homes and organisations they worked with. There are so many who would have equally benefitted from the project, but the allotted budget only allowed for a select few.
What have you learned?
They learnt that the service and provision they offered and can continue to offer is still very much needed following the pandemic and is extremely valuable to the groups they support.
“People who don’t normally engage with the sessions were in the group laughing and having a great time. There was also a lady who was blind, and I don’t think she usually gets to join in. I got her catching a ball and pushing it off her lap which I think they have never thought of doing but now they know she can, they will include her more.” Smile Coach.
They also learnt that there is high demand from similar organisations, not only in the Durham area, but from other areas of the North East, for the type of project delivered through the Together Fund.
What should happen next/in future?
Smile Through Sport believe these types of sessions should be sustainable – whether that’s through the organisation themselves raising the funds to pay for the service or through external funding opportunities. This could allow for higher reach of organisations and participants in Durham but also across the North East.
Funding to support projects to work with vulnerable, high-risk individuals to get them active and moving will have a positive and long-lasting improvement to the health care service, especially if engaged with at an early age.
County Durham Sport are proud to be able to support organisations like Smile Through Sport to make a difference to the lives of County Durham communities. Join us in celebrating the amazing impact of this Sport England/National Lottery funding by sharing your story on social media with the hashtag #TogetherFund.