Thanks to new funding from the National Lottery, we're creating more opportunities for people living in East Gateshead, High Fell and Deckham to improve their health and wellbeing through sport.

We're delivering the Active Through Football programme together with Sport England, the Football Foundation and local partners including Gateshead Older People's Assembly and Edberts House.

Over the next five years, the programme aims to increase activity levels particularly amongst females aged 16+, males aged 50+, refugees and individuals experiencing mental health issues. Its purpose is to make football more accessible to these groups, with sessions tailored to all levels of fitness, ability and confidence. 

The funding was awarded following a competitive bidding process which involved engaging with residents across the borough to identify which groups face the biggest barriers to getting physically active and how to address this most effectively.

Councillor Angela Douglas, Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, said: "We know that people living in more deprived areas are less likely to be physically active and we also know that these are the communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

This programme gives us the ability to reach out to the groups who may currently have limited opportunities to get active and offer a much needed boost for their physical and mental health and wellbeing."

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 Gateshead Council is fantastic news for the local community in Gateshead. 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 inclusion and cohesion activities in Gateshead, unlocking the many benefits of football for the community."