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Be Active Wales Fund outlay passes £500,000

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Funding to sports clubs throughout Wales hit hard by current restrictions has now passed the £500,000 mark – and there is more to come.

The Be Active Wales Fund - made possible thanks to Welsh Government and repurposed money from the National Lottery - has so far provided more than half a million pounds to clubs in need and there is a further £3.5m to give out.

Those grants are in addition to the £600,000 given out at the start of lockdown earlier this year through the Emergency Relief Fund.

But with local lockdowns now being imposed across Wales and the UK, Sport Wales are determined to ensure more clubs survive and are able to offer people places for physical activity and social interaction.

 

The fund had two distinct elements. Firstly, it provided fast cash to protect clubs that were in danger of disappearing in the early stages of lockdown.

Then, it helped clubs prepare for re-opening by enabling them to make the changes needed to safely unlock their doors.

But with local lockdowns having brought renewed restrictions to parts of Wales already this autumn, Sport Wales assistant director Owen Hathway is clear the response has to remain flexible enough to cope with rapidly changing circumstances.

He says: “We have been really pleased with the initial phases and the fact that we’ve been able to protect so many clubs.

“I genuinely think we will look back on this period and recognise that tens of thousands of people were kept physically active – and kept involved in sport – because we were able to stop clubs from folding.

“Secondly, we have been able to help clubs get back to activity when the time was right.

“The protect part of the need has declined as clubs started to get back to activity. But we'll need to keep those two strands because, obviously, we need to be able to be responsive.

“If there are further lockdowns, and people need emergency funding, then we will need to both protect and prepare. We may, unfortunately, have to step forward and then step back as different measures takes place.”

As many clubs in different sports returned to providing exercise, training, and in some cases even matches, there was a real need for the funding to ensure they were safe places once more.

That meant spending on items such as hand sanitiser, cleaning products, protective clothing and physical barriers to ensure social distancing.

“Confidence was a big factor,” adds Owen. “People needed to see that they were returning to a safe environment.”

But the fund is not all about hand gels and face masks. Clubs and sports are being encouraged to think outside the box if it means more people can return to sport.

If there are ideas for new ways of doing things – however radical – then Sport Wales would like to hear them.

Swimming clubs have examined hiring reservoirs, indoor court sports have thought how they might cope outdoors in a Welsh winter, and clubs from different sports have considered how they could share a facility.

“If clubs have some left-field ideas about how they could re-imagine their sport and provide a different type of delivery within the confines of the coronavirus restrictions, then we would like to hear from them.”

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