Over the last 12-18 months many people’s activity levels have been affected by the pandemic in Greater Manchester.
Not all groups or demographics were affected equally though, with women, young people aged 16-24, over 75s, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and those from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds most negatively impacted beyond the initial lockdown period.
To help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities on active lives Sport England announced The Tackling Inequalities Fund in June 2020, which GreaterSport have facilitated in Greater Manchester working with organisations that have trusted relationships and networks with the ability to connect to the priority audiences. The priority audiences being those from Lower Socio Economic Groups and/or Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds, and those with a disability or a long term health condition.
Nationally this is a story of how we came together at a time when we all had to stay apart, to create real connections, with real people, to support them to be active when it was needed the most. Together, we are Tackling Inequalities. #TacklingInequalitiesFund
Locally over £220,000 of funding has helped 53 organisations to reach the priority audiences across Greater Manchester. One of these were North Manchester Black Health Forum who said…
'We learnt the enormity of digital exclusion and inequalities faced by BAME communities during pandemic as most information, services and support provided was digital & in English. Here we were at a disadvantage as 80% of our participant didn’t have digital skills or means to buy equipment and are speakers of other languages. To combat this, we tried remote learning offered by other agencies but with our community already facing multiple barriers this proof to be impossible for same reasons. Therefore, we set up digital learning programme with language support to BAME people in small groups when allowed and by phone during lockdown.'
Learnings through phases 1 & 2
This programme is not just about providing the funding, it’s about learning from the process to ensure we are getting to the priority audience in the best possible way.
Process - Positive feedback on the early stages of the process – no complexity, extremely quick and the relationships built with funder during the process was a big catalyst to whether the fund was applied for.
Learnings – It would be helpful to humanise the process, sometimes difficult to put into writing, but by building ongoing relationships and trust, can gain a great build understanding through support.
Groups expressed value and gratitude in the collaborative relationship with the funder throughout the process that enabled them to overcome a number of barriers, including:
Interpreting and understanding sport and Physical Activity sector language and the relevance of the fund, lack of knowledge and understanding in order to complete an appropriate application for the fund.
Time needs to be taken to work in this approach, and building relationships is key for the panel to be successful.
Small pots of funding do not allow long term approach, how do we build connections locally to sustain and grow what is started beyond funding.
Re-entry into lockdowns meant digital adaptations were necessary for projects to go ahead, unearthing even more challenges to support people in communities. Digital illiteracy, digital language barriers and the need for face to face were common.
Adaptations included extensive digital training, translating and weeks of befriending phone calls.
Tif phase 3
For phase 3 our aim was to establish a GM Moving Equalities panel to specify the need and the process within GM for the phase, followed by decision making for the grants. This was the opportunity to collectively ensure we are successful in distributing the fund, testing new approaches, and learning from the start to inform future phases. We recognise the trusted relationships and networks of the panel members and the ability to connect to the priority audiences.
What we’ve noticed/learned about the role of the workforce.
The panel has enabled us to:
Building the movement, meeting people where they're at and being the change are the primary focuses for us over the three years to April 2025.
The Richmond Group of Charities’ physical activity coalition - Movement for All - has developed a new physical activity DVD aimed at people living with multiple long term health conditions.