Active Reach: tackling inequalities, changing lives

Active Reach is an Oxfordshire-wide programme focused on areas of greatest need across the county and run through charity partners. Active Reach is designed to support people hit hardest by COVID-19 to improve their health, wellbeing and life chances through the power of physical activity.

Since June 2020, Active Oxfordshire has granted £155,000 of Sport England funding to local charities working in target areas of high deprivation, including Blackbird Leys and parts of Banbury and Abingdon. We have deliberately worked with local organisations and co-ordinators embedded in their communities, who understand their people and place and can achieve the greatest and most lasting impact.

The funding comes from Sport England's Tackling Inequalities Fund and was awarded to Active Oxfordshire to distribute to local charity partners. The first phase focused on Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys and involved Oxfordshire charities Access Sport, Age UK Oxfordshire, Aspire Oxford, KEEN, Oxford Hub, Oxfordshire Mind, OXSRAD and Oxfordshire Youth.

Active Reach was set up to help people most impacted by COVID-19, including those with long-term health conditions, ethnically diverse communities, older people & people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Weekly fitness sessions in Blackbird Leys

A place based approach

Boxercise sessions in Banbury

Active Reach's first phase focused on the Blackbird Leys area of Oxford, then expanded to parts of Banbury and Abingdon.

The charities have used a wide range of innovative approaches to reach people and help them to get active, including Aspire Oxford's Gym Bus, local volunteer networks, bike libraries, sports holiday schemes, virtual walks, young leaders' training programmes and specialist physical activity resources.

Since launching, Active Reach has successfully supported over 650 people hit hardest by COVID-19 to get active, and our third phase focused on older people will shortly be underway.

Stronger together - the power of community

"It's more vital than ever that we can keep our community active, healthy and connected during these challenging times. But we also know that the inequality gap is set to widen even further as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and we need to make sure that the most vulnerable people in Oxfordshire aren't forgotten.

We've seen first-hand during the crisis how powerful communities are when they come together. By working with our charity partners who can reach those most in need, we can make sure that everyone in Oxfordshire has the same opportunities to increase their activity levels, health and well-being."

Paul Brivio, Chief Executive

What our partners say:

We are delighted to have received funding from Sport England for the Active Reach project, which aims to support the residents of Oxfordshire to keep physically active during the current pandemic. Physical activity can have huge benefits for our mental health, as well as our physical health, and so projects like this are vital. We are excited to be working with local partners to bring exciting new opportunities to residents across the county.'

Annie Sillence, Oxfordshire Mind

"Active Reach is a great place-based investment in the Community Impact Zone. We are excited about supporting the coordination of this programme to make physical activity more accessible to everyone in the community. We will also be building on our usual work with children, young people and families to make sure they can be involved in leading the active provision in the community."

Sara Fernandez, Oxford Hub

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