Rise, a North East charity working with communities across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear to improve access to sport and physical activities, has invested more than half a million pounds in grass roots activity projects since it launched 12 months ago.

The charity has secured £535,000 in funding which it has used to support over 90 community-based activity initiatives that are creating and offering exercise and social opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, to improve health and wellbeing, whilst tackling barriers to participation, social isolation and loneliness.

Rise is funded by Sport England and is one of 42 Active Partnerships across the country. Its strategic focus is to encourage people from all walks of life to be more active, in particular individuals who are currently moving for less than 30 minutes per week.

One of the projects Rise has supported in its first year includes £75k to help young people across Newcastle and Gateshead who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, to cope with their challenges through the power of sport, physical activity and friendship.

Rise secured the funding from Virgin Money and The London Marathon Charitable Trust. It is working with local organisations including Changing Lives, YMCA Newcastle and South Tyneside and the Albert Kennedy Trust to help them offer physical activities and wellbeing support to their service users.

Clare Morley, CEO of RISE, said: “I can’t believe that it’s already been a year since we created Rise. The last 12 months have obviously been so difficult for so many people through the pandemic, but despite this, we are proud to have been able to drive forward the agenda of utilising the power of physical activity to positively impact more lives across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear.

“We still have so much to do in this space, but have thoroughly enjoyed the work we have been able to progress in our first year and we look forward to supporting our partners to maximise their results for our communities through physical activity for many years to come.”

Since its launch, Rise has also supported Veterans in Crisis Sunderland, to help them to continue looking after members during the pandemic. Rise donated £14,000 to the charity which has funded socially distanced and one-to-one exercise sessions.

Paul McLoughlin, business development manager at Veterans in Crisis, said: “On leaving the forces, veterans face the challenge of integrating with society at large.  The camaraderie and humour enjoyed while serving doesn’t always translate well in society, being able to communicate with like-minded individuals during the activities gives our member’s strength in mental resilience and cements new friendships.

“Our fitness co-ordinator, also a veteran, was able to set challenges to the ability of the members making the activities an enjoyable achievement. The financial support we’ve received from Rise has been pivotal in keeping our veterans motivated during the various periods of lockdown.”

Rise was originally known as Northumberland Sport and Tyne & Wear Sport. The charity launched in 2020 when the two legacy organisations combined and is based at Royal Quays Business Centre in North Shields.

Examples of other community initiatives funded by RISE in its first year include:

  • Delivering more than 4,000 activity packs for older residents using local authority reablement services. The initiative was funded with a £100k grant from Barclays and supported elderly people in continuing to live independently by helping them to stay active during the pandemic and beyond.
  • £200,000 Tackling Inequalities Fund has been used to help communities to tackle barriers to accessing sport and physical activity. The Rise grants support instructor training, equipment, facility hire, and specific projects such as women and girls groups.
  • RFU Families Fund working with England Rugby and the RFU to provide family fun sessions including sports and other activities in North Shields with Norham High school and North Shields Rugby Club and includes a free meal each session.
  • Funding for essential organisations to help them to keep operating, particularly through the pandemic, whether it’s by enabling them to take members on day trips, host activities, buy equipment and pay for instructors.
  • Supporting various school games competitions and events which are usually held in person but changed to virtual events due to the pandemic and funding to enable schools to purchase PE equipment.
  • Leadership and volunteering programme ran by Rise in association with the Youth Sport Trust. More than 400 young people have signed up to learn about leadership, volunteering and coaching with virtual sessions ran by ex-Olympic athletes including Nicola Minichiello and Craig Heap, as well as additional CPD sessions.
  • Working with Coach Core to run Level 2 Apprenticeship Programmes for young people in the sport and physical activity sector.
  • Supporting schools across Northumberland and Tyne & Wear to open their facilities outside school hours in order to put on additional sport and physical activity sessions, where school children can get involved as well as parents and siblings.
  • Working with companies and organisations to develop employee wellbeing plans, and linking with app/software developers to provide virtual/at-home offerings to ensure workforces can remain/become active even whilst working from home.