Sports clubs and groups throughout Suffolk have shared a funding pot of £128,000 to date – enabling them to restart their activities post-pandemic.
In total, 90 groups – ranging from small karate clubs to running teams and larger scale football teams – have received a grant from the Suffolk Community Restart Scheme, led by Community Action Suffolk.
The monies, varying in size from a few hundred pounds, up to a maximum of £2,500, have been used to improve distancing and hygiene measures, carry out marketing and advertising, purchase gazebos, signage, PPE, and buy new sport equipment.
Suffolk Community Restart has been made possible through a partnership process involving Suffolk County Council, the District Councils and Borough Councils. Its intention is to ensure no sporting organisation should remain compromised or closed a moment longer than necessary.
Chris Abraham, CEO for Community Action Suffolk, has been delighted to see so many sports clubs and groups coming forward to apply for grants, or to make the most of the scheme’s other offerings, like on-demand training, and specialist ‘restart’ advice.
“We are so fortunate in Suffolk to have a really diverse range of clubs, teams and groups who are involved in active sport in some way – but many of them suffered significantly over Covid,” she said.
“I’m therefore really pleased that we heard from a large number of coaches, team secretaries and club managers, all eager to find out how they could make use of this fund and get their eager children and adults back doing the sport they love.”
Among the area of sport to see a number of clubs awarded, is tennis. Whether predicting the Raducanu effect or not, several community clubs have come forward to apply for a grant to improve their facilities and increase cleaning regimes in light of the pandemic.
East Bergholt Tennis Club were awarded £2,500, Wortham Lawn Tennis Club £375, Roundwood Tennis Club £630, Somersham Tennis Club £1400, and Sproughton Tennis Club £325.
Graham Daldry, Chairman of East Bergholt Tennis Club, commented: “Suffolk Community Restart have been brilliant to deal with, very fast and efficient, which is just what you need when running a rather fragile voluntary organisation.
“In some ways our tennis club is in a great position, with huge interest in tennis following lockdown and Emma Raducanu’s exploits.
“However it’s also been a major headache, because we are historically a tiny club with ageing and limited facilities and very limited funds.
“We have kept tennis accessible throughout lockdown with low fees, and will continue to do so, so we have had to look for extra resources to make our courts fit for use again.”
He continued: “The restart grant has helped us carry out some much needed work to provide better sanitary facilities at the courts – water and drainage which will enable us to keep the courts clean and also provide running water.
“We are currently coaching over 100 juniors a week so this is really important to us from a health and safety point of view.”
Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Public Protection and Communities, said: “Sports clubs and groups which support people to connect and be active are often the lifeblood of local communities and do an incredibly important job supporting people to be active and stay active throughout their lives.
“We established the Community Sport Restart Fund, thanks to funding from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund and support from our district and borough council partners and Community Action Suffolk, to help them get back up and running in a covid safe way after the most recent lockdown. The fact that we’ve already distributed over £100,000 to help sport in Suffolk at this critically important time shows just how much this fund is needed.
“I would encourage any club or group that hasn’t already taken advantage of the fund to consider how it could help them do what they do best – provide sporting opportunities for the people of Suffolk.”
[Photo: Graham Daldy, East Bergholt Tennis Club – credit: Community Action Suffolk]