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Sport Hampshire & IOW award £50,000 to grass roots sport

Sport Hampshire & IOW (SHIOW) celebrated the work of the local network of Sport and Physical Activity Alliances (SPAAs) at a special event held on Friday 26 October at the Holiday Inn, Eastleigh where they awarded £50,000 of funding to help sport & physical activity grow at a local level.

Ten SPAAs from across the county attended the event which saw them awarded with cheques for £5000 from SHIOW to help them continue to provide opportunities for sport and physical activity in their local areas.

SHIOW and the network of SPAAs have been working together to achieve a number of targets to decrease the number of people who are inactive in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and increase the number of people throughout the county taking part in sport or physical activity.

Guests listened to presentations from Active Southampton SPAA, Eastleigh SPAA, Rushmoor SPAA and James Saunders, Event Director of parkrun in Eastleigh, Southampton and Netley Abbey, who all showcased the different approaches they have been taking to help achieve the goals set out by SHIOW.

James Saunders provided the audience with a glimpse of what can be achieved with minimal financial input and strong partnership cooperation. "What makes parkrun such a successful initiative is that it has removed the barriers to participation," said James. "There is no charge to the runner, all you have to do is register, and anyone can take part. The mix of people you see at a parkrun is proof that it really is an activity for everyone."

Working closely alongside Active Southampton SPAA, with £1000 from SHIOW and £1500 from Southampton City Council's Parks Department, James has been running a parkrun in Southampton since July 2012, regularly seeing 200 people taking part each week.

Alison Baker, from Active Southampton, also spoke about the work they have been doing with Southampton Solent University's Sport Department, who are working closely with students from the University to create innovative community projects as part of their study. They are planning to use a portion of the remaining funding to run a social media campaign to increase the numbers of people taking part in physical activity within Southampton.

Marianne Cairley and Rachel Dyer, from Eastleigh SPAA, spoke about the work they have been doing to increase physical activity opportunities at a local level. Eastleigh held a successful Sports Awards for the second time in February 2012, and have also run a Back to Netball scheme for women across the district. To supplement this, they are looking to produce a Sport & Active Lifestyle booklet, which will contain timeless offers from local partners and leisure providers. In addition to this, Eastleigh also have a well established parkrun which has been running since 2010 and regularly sees 120 runners take part each week.

Martin Sterio, from Rushmoor SPAA, spoke about the work they have been doing to encourage families to take part in physical activity. In partnership with Sustrans, they have used some of the SHIOW funding to employ a Bike It Officer, who has successfully established a family cycling club in Rushmoor which regularly sees 30 people, of all ages, taking part each week. They continued their free swimming initiative in summer 2012, in association with DC Leisure, entitling young people 16 and under to swim for free as many times as they liked during the summer holidays at indoor pools in Farnborough and Aldershot. In 2011, 9000 free swims were taken by under 16s, in 2012 over 14000 free swims were made, 900 of those were by 16-year-olds.

Guests at the event included representatives from National Governing Bodies of Sport, health professionals, and Chief Culture and Leisure Officers from local councils and Hampshire County Council, all interested in how partnership working can help reduce the level of inactivity and its impact on people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Charlotte Malyon, Sports Development Manager at SHIOW, commented: "This event has demonstrated the passion and purpose our network of SPAAs has for achieving a meaningful legacy from London 2012 in Hampshire and the Isle Of Wight. But the challenge to continually innovate and achieve more for less is always present. Creative ways to engage our inactive population are always needed and our doors are always open to those who can help contribute to this complex public health issue."

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