After a successful three years our Sport & Health Project is celebrating an extension to its National Lottery funded Sport England Programme and a new grant from The KKR Grants Initiative

Our Sport & Health Project is a recognised and evidenced model of good practice for the benefits of physical activity in improving peoples’ physical and mental health, social relationships and overall quality of life. The Programme has engaged over 600 clients, partnered with over 30 organisations and worked with 130 volunteers.

Funded through Sport England’s Active Ageing Initiative, the three year programme worked with a section of the population that mainstream Sporting and physical activity services have traditionally struggled to reach. We found that, by introducing physical activity into the daily lives of those experiencing homelessness, we were able to improve stress, anxiety and depression levels by 76% and overall quality of life by 62%. 

On the back of this success, Sport England announced a further two year extension. The Sport & Health Project hopes to diversify its reach to all adults, grow its network and partnerships and promote the value of sport and physical activity in tackling homelessness; with a specific focus on women-centric organisations.

The second grant awarded to our Sport & Health Project is from The KKR Grants Initiative COVID-19 Relief Fund, which will provide funding to expand on the ‘Health’ side of the Sport & Health Project. 

When the world went into its first lockdown in March 2020, SHP was faced with another challenge, ensuring its clients were safely housed and protected from COVID-19. The Sport & Health Team played an essential part of the triage approach that managed the health of those housed in hotels and SHP accommodation. The learning from the multidisciplinary approach inspired us to seek out additional funding to expand its Health Services. 

Ordinarily, it would have proved difficult to mobilise a team like this due to challenges  presented by organisational boundaries, competing workloads and resource pressures. As providers paused their business as usual operations, an emergency response for the most vulnerable was achieved in a short period. This multidisciplinary team, wrapped round a specific cohort of homeless people, has given us a valuable insight into what is possible through strong partnership working and a commitment to deliver integrated care.

Extract from The Britannia Hotel Paper, an evaluation of the Britannia Hotel MDT

The KKR Grant will provide a path forward in creating and initiating immediate mental and physical health support to 700 of the most vulnerable homeless people in Westminster, Camden, Islington, Newham and Redbridge.  

The vision for this grant will see the addition of Specialist Health Leads into our Services. These services will provide a triage, referral and support based services, including assessing the immediate need of each person and ensuring Covid-19 tests and vaccinations are carried out.

“The Sport & Health Programme has been so important. The people we were working with were very isolated and taking part in sport activities we started to see improvements in their physical health, but also their mental well-being. It created the space to talk (about) health concerns they were worried about and engage them with mainstream health services. But in the rough sleeping services in particular, the associated testing to evaluate the impact of the sports activity, became more important than the sport alone.”

Toni Warner, Deputy CEO

To celebrate the last three years of the Sport & Health Project, we commissioned filmmaker Poppie Skold for a documentary that highlights key Programme findings, the positive impact the Programme has had on SHP clients and what the vision is for the future.