Our Sport & Health Project, funded by Sport England’s Active Ageing Initiative, 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 two-year project has shown major health gains among a section of the population that mainstream health and sports services have struggled to reach - including those with chronic physical conditions, substance use needs, mental health needs and histories of rough sleeping. 

The project presents an important opportunity to gather key data on the health of people using our services and has the potential to serve as a model for developing more effective strategies to tackle the health inequalities that persist among homeless and socially excluded people in the UK. Working with an evaluation team from the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health in association with University of East London, we are gathering valuable learning for health practitioners and those managing and commissioning services, in order to make the case for more effective and more integrated services for the people we work with. 

Over the past two years the project has engaged with over 700 service users across 12 London boroughs, with an emphasis on those aged over 55 and those within our complex needs pathway. Our health checks revealed alarmingly poor health among this client group when compared to the general population. However, the programme also demonstrated that clients are highly responsive when appropriate care and support is provided in an accessible wayBy engaging clients in a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity each week, we are seeing improvements in both physical and mental health, socialisation, engagement and confidence, as well as reduced A&E and crisis admissions and substance misuse. 

A large proportion of participants have reported improvements in their depression, anxiety and stress levels. We have also observed significant improvements in blood pressure and heart rate levels, weight loss and gain, and handgrip strength. As a result, the day to day quality of life of many participants has improved significantly and in the longer term we expect participation to improve their life expectancy. 

Our 2020 Health Report aims to highlight the current state of health services available to clients experiencing complex needs, and discusses tools to improve engagement and outcomes alongside recommendations to further improve the quality of life for our complex needs service users.  

Download the report