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Active Thames fund winners announced

More than £90,000 has been awarded to 24 organisations promoting activity on the tidal Thames and inland waterways in London, Kent and Essex, as part of a new programme led by the Port of London Authority (PLA).


Islington Boat Club

The recipients of the Active Thames grants include clubs from Richmond in the west, through Wapping and Tower Hamlets in the centre of the capital and out to Gravesend and Shoeburyness in the east.

The active Thames aims to encourage groups that are less likely to engage in physical activity on the river, including individuals from ethnically diverse communities, lower socioeconomic groups, and those with disabilities.

In a survey last year, people involved in watersports across the region voiced their desire to see improvements in diversity and inclusion, and there was a high demand for a coach and volunteer development.

The Active Thames partners working to better serve the watersports community include Active Essex, Kent Sport, London Sport, British Canoeing, British Rowing, RYA, Canal & River Trust, Thames Path National Trail and the PLA.

Jenny Cooper, PLA sports manager, said: “Active Thames is supporting access, diversity and inclusion in sports and every recipient is ambitious about making watersports open to all.

“The grants will see new communities on the water in London, Kent and Essex and will help develop the next generation of coaches and volunteers.”

Chris Earle

Chris Earle, head of recreational paddling at British Canoeing, said: “British Canoeing is excited to be collaborating with Active Thames to support clubs tackle inequalities and increase participation within communities alongside the waterways of the Thames.

“By co-creating opportunities to overcome barriers to participation we are confident that our investment and support will result in sustainable activities which provide equal access to opportunities in inclusive, fun, safe, and accessible environments.”

Islington Boat Club’s grant will fund crucial training for instructors and volunteers while Royal Dolphins Rowing Club will be able to provide taster sessions to more disabled people in east London.

The active Thames is a key part of the Thames Vision 2035 river development framework. Making it possible for more people to get afloat and active on the river is one of the Vision’s six main goals.

A full list of the 24 recipients:

Black Girls Hike UK provides a safe space for black women to explore the outdoors. £1000 will subsidise paddling sessions in East and South London this summer, and signpost to local clubs and coaching courses. (London)

Blue Therapy Active will use £5000 to purchase kayaks, safety equipment and clothing and provide weekly paddling sessions at Southend on Sea, Two Tree Island, Shoeburyness and Chalkwell. They intend to reach more women and encourage them to become coaches and will work with people signposted from local mental health organisations who are looking to return to exercise and improve their overall health and mindset. (Essex)

The Bluetits Chill Swimmers is a social enterprise committed to empowering a community of cold water swimmers. One group benefiting from the funding is regularly active in Whitstable. 80% of the group are female and over half joined in order to experience the health benefits of cold water therapy and sea swimming. £940 will provide training for the founding members so that they can tackle their waiting list, and support more people to enjoy cold water swimming safely. Active Life Ltd is providing this training and helping support the club’s development. (Kent)

Chelmsford Canoe Club have been awarded £4671 and will be spending their funding on the provision of new boats- sit-on-top kayaks. The club feels confident that this type of boat will get people involved more quickly and safely, combatting any concerns around Covid-19 or fears of getting trapped. It will help the club tackle its lengthy waiting list. The club also intends to run river cleanups in the summer. (Essex)

Following a successful pilot in 2021, £5000 will support Cody Dock Environmental Canoe Club to run regular paddling sessions with river clean-ups and citizen science environmental survey safaris. New audiences will be called to action via a different purpose – the environment. The club has a community engagement lead who ensures activities are as inclusive as possible and that their reach is representative of Newham and Tower Hamlets. (London)

Danson Park Adventures Sailing

Danson Park Adventures had an incredibly busy summer in 2021 with sailing and paddlesports courses all fully booked. £2000 will provide bursary support for coaching qualifications for young people on Danson Lake in Bexley and on the Thames. (London)

Dittons Paddleboarding Club runs free community paddlesports sessions on the Grand Union Canal and the Thames. £1500 will train volunteers in first aid and water rescue, so they can increase the number of free sessions on offer. Dittons have a keen desire to make paddlesports a more inclusive and diverse sport. (London)

Fulham Reach Boat Club provide rowing for all. £5000 will support learn to row courses for secondary school pupils in Hammersmith and Fulham and broaden the appeal and accessibility of rowing and the great outdoors now and into the future. (London)

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Globe Rowing Club aim to diversify their club by attracting and retaining more people from ethnic minorities, young people and women. Like many clubs, they do not have enough coaches. £4000 will enable Globe RC to attract, retain and develop coaches and reach new audiences. (London)

Gravesend Rowing Club needs an engine for their safety boat. A grant of £3300 will allow the club to deliver rowing courses over the winter and provide adequate safety cover for activity sessions for local schools and community groups. (Kent)

Gravesend Sailing Club wants to make sailing more accessible to the local community and have organised regular dinghy taster sessions. £2000 will support the training of Dinghy instructors, helping to get more people out on the Thames in Kent. (Kent)

Herne Bay Sailing clubs are an RYA Sailability and RYA training centre with proven success in working with people who are visually impaired and with people who are deaf. They intend to use £5000 to purchase equipment to support their work and keep costs as low as possible. (Kent)

Islington Boat Club on the Regents Canal is a charity providing boating, personal development, health awareness and employment training to children, people with disabilities, schools and youth groups and the Upper Deckers club provides potentially isolated older people with free activity sessions. Canoeing, kayaking, powerboating, sailing, narrowboating, bell boating and mountain biking, as well as off-site days and residential trips, are all on offer. A grant of £4943 will provide crucial training for instructors and volunteers, supporting the continuation of their community engagement and the work of the charity in Islington. (London)

Laburnum Boat Club is a multisport charity in Hackney working with disadvantaged and disabled young people. £4815 will support kayak, canoe and SUP day trips on the tidal Thames and inland waterways, and the mentoring and qualification pathway running alongside sessions will support the overall wellbeing and development of each child. (London)

London Sports Trust will use £4400 to support a new programme, Changing the Tide. The programme aims to use the proven combination of watersports, positive role models and continued learning opportunities to improve the health, wellbeing and employment prospects of some of the most vulnerable teenagers from deprived housing estates. Kayaking, canoeing and coach development will be on offer at Thames-based sites Cremorne Wharf and Fulham Reach. (London)

London Youth Rowing provides opportunities for disadvantaged young people to experience the benefits of rowing through a range of coaching, inclusion, and health programmes. LYR have just started to deliver watersport on the Olympic Park in East London and will partner with Active360 to create multi-skilled watersports coaches and help address the current shortage of SUP trained coaches in East London. A grant of £8010 will support coach development and provide equipment in order to help open up watersports with a particular focus on young people, people from minority ethnic backgrounds and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. (London)

Newham Ability Camp is a pan-disability multi-sports club that runs three sessions a week for young people with disabilities. Sports offered to include cricket, basketball, badminton, archery, football, boccia and softball and with a grant of £742 will support the club to access rowing sessions, provided by experienced coaches at London Youth Rowing. Many parents reported a worrying deterioration of their child’s mental health during lockdown with depression, becoming withdrawn and behavioural issues associated with extreme anxiety. Being back together in the club and taking part in sporting activities like rowing will help the children rebuild their confidence and mental wellbeing. (London)

Phoenix Canoe Club is located next to the Welsh Harp reservoir which borders Barnet and Brent. They offer kayaking, sailing, canoeing, SUP and bell boating to a range of community groups and are currently working with Mencap, Mind, disability groups, and with organisations specialising in disadvantaged and ethnic minority participants and refugees. £5000 will support the continued delivery of sports sessions and provide disability training for staff. (London)

Phoenix Canoe Club and Outdoor Centre

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