London's sport charities and activity providers did not sit still during the covid-19 pandemic.
2020 and 2021 was difficult for everyone. It was hard physically, mentally, and emotionally.
But as the Covid-19 restrictions eased, and our world opened up again, London’s sport and activity organisations stepped up their efforts to get people moving.
Throughout the lockdowns and rules on group activity there was an unprecedented effort by the sport community to support those who needed us the most.
London Sport’s campaign, We Are Not Spectators, highlighted and encouraged this amazing movement: everything from online streamed fitness classes to food banks and delivery of essentials to the vulnerable.
Success Stories (Spring 2021)
Fulham Reach Boat Club
Fulham Reach Boat Club’s Boats Not Bars programme worked with five prisons before covid-19, encouraging positive behaviours and reducing reoffending through rowing.
With focus, achievement and positive feelings generated by the programme have had a huge impact on participants’ mental health.
During lockdown, they ran circuit sessions once a week, keeping the members of the club active and in touch with their community. As well as the benefits to physical, social and mental wellbeing in the face of the pandemic, this continuing work has generated a strong interest and anticipation for in-person participation, which might otherwise have been lost.
“Sport has an incredible ability to make you believe more in yourself and to push your boundaries.”
Before the pandemic, Barking Mosque ran circuit training, boxing and archery classes. When it was necessary to take things online, they provided both video classes and written notes to help people keep healthy – as well as providing food packages and medicine to those most in need.
Their online yoga programme was instrumental in helping people through an incredibly difficult time, and the impacts of depression or anxiety.
Now, real-life yoga classes are allowing people to be together, achieving the human connection that’s been so sorely missed.
Together with a cycling class, a partnership with Essex Cricket, and all the other community and sporting activities eventually restarting, a Return to Play means a return to a whole range of physical, mental, social and emotional benefits.
“It’s given a lot of people a comfortable space to explore those activities and benefit from them not just physically, but also mentally.”
Single Homeless Project
The Single Homeless Project provide exercise sessions – gym classes, football, fishing, cycling – to homeless people.
With up to 32 sessions a week in hostels and in the community beyond, their role was influential in both supporting those affected by homelessness and preventing people from falling into it.
Covid-19 restrictions meant for a time, only online sessions were possible, then one-to-one outdoor sessions, as opposed to the eight-person groups possible before.
The Return to Play offers participants the chance to get back to this positive social environment, and the constructive routine that exercise can bring.
“We’re looking forward to providing an opportunity for clients to get stuck in and take ownership of their physical and mental health”
Early Years Cocoon support families with young children in Barking & Dagenham, normally in the local library, running playgroups with stories, art and play.
Through the lockdown, they moved their sessions online and created resources for parents. Then, to encourage parents and their children to get moving as the rules changed, they partnered with Essex Cricket to run an outdoor cricket-based playgroup.
Cricket can be used both to encourage individual skill and activity, and to bring a group together in friendly competition. Plus, it can be played without needing marathon-level stamina!
Early Years Cocoon made the most of this and the social support they always give, to make for a really positive session.
“Parents were concerned about the social skills of their children so what we provide is essential”
Early Years Cocoon
Before covid-19, Burgess Sport ran after-school programmes, holiday programmes, leadership training and more on-location in Burgess Park.
Since then, they’ve pivoted to online delivery of many of their projects – but also home deliveries of games, jigsaws and art activity packs that don’t involve a screen – and up to five hundred meals a week to those who need it.
A Return to Play means that Burgess Sport can help children who are more restricted than most by the lockdown with exactly what they need – programmes in person, in open, safe locations.
Starting up again in bubbles, they’re able to provide sporting activities again like boxing and archery, to socially vulnerable groups.
“Social skills, personal skills – you can just see the energy levels are off the scale.”
Success Stories (Summer 2020)
Select an image to find out more about how that organisation got stuck in and ensured they were not spectators.