Active Gloucestershire wants to support people to be more active in their local community in a multitude of ways – for example, walking to the shops, travelling places by foot, as well as through sport.
I see sport and physical activity as a huge connector in communities – and there are benefits to mental and physical health through that connection. Our organisation’s role is to bring opportunities across the county so everyone has the same opportunities to experience those benefits.
We recently joined up with Gloucestershire Funders as part of our role with Sport England to distribute funding to achieve a more effective local impact. We thought the best way to do that was to join with other funders who had an expertise and a track record in that. We get more from working with other funders than trying to set up new systems and protocols by ourselves. Gloucestershire Funders have a strong connection into local communities and that’s a primary focus for where we want to put our money.
I think the thing I’ve learned most about through working as part of Gloucestershire Funders is that collaboration is the most important thing. With collaboration, you get greater insight and a quicker decision. And quicker decisions mean that the money isn’t sitting in our bank account but is with the communities who need it.
The applications show an amazing response to Covid-19 in Gloucestershire, and that’s been fascinating. But in a way, Covid-19 has just amplified issues we knew were there already. It’s rare that an issue comes up that is completely alien – most of the challenges are pre-existing. And the great thing is that we’ve received applications from communities we have wanted to reach anyway. Increasingly, more affluent areas aren’t applying for funds and are finding other ways to generate income through donations and crowdfunding.
I hope the collaborative way of working of Gloucestershire Funders continues and it goes beyond distributing money – it’s about finding where we share vision, values and goals and how we can connect. We all have different interests -some funders are more interested in arts funding, some in sports and activity – but there are links and the places we want to work in are often the same. We want to work together in those places so that people make decisions about their own funding and how they want to live their lives. For me, this is about bringing resources to people in areas to spend in the way they want and are entitled to do so. Gloucestershire Funders has a key role in making that happen.
By Tom Beasley – CEO, Active Gloucestershire