What is happening now?

Since the Sport & Wellbeing project is new and rooted in experimentation, there’s so much to be learned. The longer-term strategy will therefore emerge over time from insights gained from an initial pilot phase which has already begun.

This involves seven dioceses and is due to come to an end in 2023. From all that the pilot dioceses are doing, we’ll learn about best practice and whether demographics make a difference, for example, whether certain things work better in rural or urban contexts.

We’ll capture all of this learning so we can be confident that at the end of the project, we have evidence for what an effective strategy for Sport & Wellbeing looks like. The next stage will be to offer this to the wider church.

Sport & Wellbeing Project Learning Community

This series of gatherings across the pilot dioceses has been set up with the following aims: 

  • To equip 1-2 people (no more than 2) per pilot diocese to be able to influence and embed a developed sport and wellbeing strategy in their diocese.
  • To provide a space for research, learning and diocesan mentoring which will, in turn, assist the dioceses in embedding a developed strategy.
  • To provide insight and learning which can then be written up to tell the story at the end of the project.
  • To partner with the theological college, Ridley Hall, Cambridge - hosting three in-person gatherings during 2022.
  • To ensure representatives from the pilot dioceses can receive input from experts from across the sports ministry sector, learn from one another and mix with Ridley students for cross pollination of ideas and learning.

Encouraging everyday connections

In addition to our work with key representatives from each pilot diocese, the project also encourages the whole Church and all Christians to reflect on their own participation in Sport and their own wellbeing as part of their Everyday faith.

Sport and wellbeing activity, regardless of age or ability, connects us with others. Deeper connections and shared interests can help us be more confident about sharing our own story of faith with the people we run, walk, swim and exercise with. The project aims to inspire and support Christians to do this.

Events, webinars and conferences

The project team hosts sport and wellbeing mission events to support the whole Church and to signpost to best practice and training offered by partner organisations.

These are some events we’ve offered so far:

Sport, Fitness & Evangelism webinar

Follow-up Sport, Fitness & Evangelsim webinar

In July 2021, there was an online gathering. We recorded many of the speakers, and you can view the playlist on YouTube just here.

Events coming up

You can view how we’re linking with a coalition of Christian organisations to make the most of the mission opportunities presented by the Commonwealth Games 2022.

The Church and football podcast

There are close links between the Church and football. Well-known football clubs were founded by Churches, and many clubs now have Chaplains for their teams.

In this podcast, Bill Shaw reports on the past and present links between the Church and football - and why Chaplains don't pray for their team to win!

Ministry training

And training for Sports Ministry through Ridley Hall, Cambridge New online course in sports ministry - The Ridley Award (cam.ac.uk)

Sports ministry training at Ridley Hall (cam.ac.uk)

Pilot insights so far

Three of the pilot Dioceses are already experienced in using sport and wellbeing in community contexts:

The Diocese of London has numerous small to mid-scale provisions in a range of settings and local charity Kick London delivers PE and Sport alongside mentoring, and afterschool and holiday clubs in 77 schools.

The London Diocese has also invested in two pilot projects, Hoxton Sport and Wellbeing Hub (youth sport and adult wellbeing) and the new Activate project Home | Activate Church  in Hampton and Teddington (currently developing social prescribing and mental health offers), to prove significant new models of community engagement, innovating how the church can tackle inactivity and deliver social outcomes.

The Diocese of Gloucester, building on many years of community sport and school delivery by a local charity PSALMS, has a significant funded strategy to create a network of sport and physical activity centres primarily engaging with children, young people, their families and young adults. Sportily – Diocese of Gloucester (anglican.org)

These centres will deliver increased activity, social outcomes and provide leadership pathways for young people. There is scope to work with councils and developers in creating stronger community around sporting activity within new housing developments.

The Diocese of Norwich has been engaging through sport and wellbeing through a local charity. The Sports Factory delivers school coaching sessions, ASC, PE lessons, lunch clubs, holiday clubs, Pilates and Prayer, Fab and Fit (over 50’s fitness), online stretch and as well as social Netball and Football.

They successfully target people from within the community from all ages and stages including: adults, children, over 50’s, students, youth, SEN and disability. With a significant grant from the Church Commissioners, the Diocese is replicating this model in four new areas across Norfolk, based around secondary school catchment areas.

If you would like to find out more contact Natalie.andrews@churchofengland.org, or follow our Facebook page.