Northumberland County Council has been awarded £421,576 for an exciting new programme from Sport England, funded by the National Lottery, and delivered by the Football Foundation to get more people physically active.
The funding will be used over a five-year period to increase participation in sport and physical activity for those aged 16 years and over, with a particular emphasis on football.
It will pay for sports leaders and sports facility hire to enable more people to take part in physical activity in their community.
Cllr Jeff Watson, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure, said: “Working with the local partners is key to the success of this unique project and we are delighted that so many local organisations are involved.
“We would have loved the whole county to be included in this project but as the funding was limited with defined priorities, we were restricted to those areas.
“This is a 5-year project and as it develops and we learn from this model, we will be looking for any opportunity to expand into other areas and to include younger people."
Kathie Keady, sports development manager, said: “We are delighted to be amongst the successful few, to be awarded this national funding which will enable us to get into the heart of the communities of Ashington and Berwick.
“Physical activity can be a real solution to many concerns including physical and mental health, anti-social behaviour and community cohesion.
“Not everyone has the financial means to access sporting activity, so we will be working with community organisations to plan bespoke activity sessions in suitable locations within these two communities.”
Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “There is a reason why football is followed and played by so many the world over.
"It brings people together and helps build connections in communities.
"It’s also the sport that is played the most in England and has a reach into places where our research shows activity levels are lower.
“Sport England is proud to be one of the funding partners helping to tackle these inequalities and to support more people from a variety of backgrounds to enjoy playing football and all the benefits that brings.”
Robert Sullivan, chief executive of the Football Foundation, said: “This grant award to Northumberland County Council is fantastic news for the local community in both Ashington and Berwick.
"Football is a game for everyone – regardless of their background – and it’s only right that people across all walks of life are able to play the nation’s favourite game.
“Over the past 21 years, we have been working with local authorities up and down the country to ensure everyone has access to high quality pitches.
“Thanks to Sport England National Lottery Investment, this new project will help to transform people’s lives by developing physical activity and football opportunities in both Ashington and Berwick, unlocking the many benefits of activity for the community.”
Any community organisation who feels that a project which gets people physically active would be beneficial in their community should contact Sports Development Officer Jake Preece on 07966 331738.