middlesbrough-moving-forwardA FUND promoting healthy activity in Middlesbrough has been hailed a success.

And community groups are being reminded that grants are still available over the coming year – and early applications are recommended.

The Physical Activity Fund (PAF) was launched in 2015 to support projects across the town that promoted exercise and healthy lifestyles.

A total pot of £200,000 from Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health budget was split into grants for small projects of up to £2,000 and larger grants of up £20,000, with awards made to 37 projects from 59 applications.

Applications were considered by a grants panel drawn from Middlesbrough Council, Teesside University, Tees Valley Sport, a voluntary sector organisation specialising in BME communities and a member of Middlesbrough Council’s Executive.

Among the larger awards – from a total of nearly £150,000 – were £19,000 for the installation of outdoor ‘trim trail’ gym equipment at Fairy Dell, and £20,000 towards building work and improved changing facilities at Acklam Rugby Club.

Of the projects aimed specifically at residents from the town’s BME communities, NUR fitness was awarded £14,350 to fund basketball and netball sessions for women from the Asian community.

Small grants totalling just over £44,000 were also awarded to 27 projects across a wide range of sporting and healthy living activity.

Successful applications were made in support of armchair exercise sessions, groups delivering basketball, tai chi, Zumba and walking and physical activity for the under-fives.

Football sessions which secured funding included ‘walking’ soccer for the over-50s and training sessions specifically aimed at children on the autistic spectrum.

Edward Kunonga, Middlesbrough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Leading an active lifestyle is proven to increase life expectancy and quality of life, so it’s important that we continue to promote positive choices.

“Regular physical activity not only helps to keep us fit and healthy, but also has great benefits for our mental health.

“These grants have already made a considerable difference to a great many people, and there is still chance for other projects and initiatives to get involved.”

Councillor Mick Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Communities and Public Health, said: “The Physical Activity Fund has been successful in providing diverse programmes to improve people’s involvement in physical activity, with those benefiting ranging in age from three to 87.

“Many of the successful applicants represent grassroots of our communities, with projects that target those who we know have particular health needs but who too often do not or cannot access existing provision.

“Some funding remains available for 2016/17 so I would urge any community groups looking to get projects off the ground or develop existing initiatives to consider making an application as soon as possible.”

A total of £35,000 is available with groups or organisations invited to apply for grants for up to £2,000. For more information email Sharon_barker@middlesbrough.gov.uk or call 01642 729309.