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Making a difference

Back in 1981, when Chris Brasher and John Disley founded the London Marathon and The London Marathon Charitable Trust, one of their six founding aims was to raise money for sport and recreational facilities in London.

Their vision was that the surplus from the London Marathon – and all future events organised by London Marathon Events Ltd – would go to The Trust in perpetuity. From the start, the two organisations have had complementary aims.

The London Marathon Charitable Trust provides funding to enable people to become and remain physically active, and to challenge inequality of access to physical activity. Alongside The Trust’s work, London Marathon Events Ltd is constantly working to grow and improve the mass-participation sporting events it organises, the amounts raised by participants for charities and the positive impacts generated by inspiring people to take up sport.

When Brasher and Disley founded the two organisations, they could not have begun to imagine the impact each would have.

Since 1981, The London Marathon Charitable Trust has awarded more than £84 million in grants to 1,400+ projects up and down the country that encourage people to become more physically active and that challenge inequality of access to physical activity.

Grants have been made to a huge variety of projects, from bowls clubs to floodlit artificial grass pitches and from running club facilities to an urban dance centre. In 2019 alone, more than £6.2 million has been awarded by The Trust to projects that aim to get more people active.

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Space to be active

One recent success story has been the reopening in July of several sections of the Southbank Undercroft Skate Space (pictured) – considered by many to be one of the world’s most important and iconic skateboarding sites – which have been closed to the public since 2005.

A £200,000 grant from The London Marathon Charitable Trust helped Southbank Centre and Long Live Southbank to reopen parts of the space to skateboarders on 20 July.

Sarah Ridley, Chief Grants Officer for The London Marathon Charitable Trust, believes the skate space will benefit the local community and visitors to Southbank for many years to come: “The Southbank Undercroft is a London institution and has provided generations of local people and visitors with a free and accessible space to be active.

“One of the aims of this regeneration project is to support more young people to become more physically active, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“This is synonymous with The Trust’s overall vision to inspire activity. We are so pleased to have awarded this grant and we look forward to seeing London’s local community and visitors to the Southbank benefiting for many more generations to come.”

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Supporting young people

Another grant of £327,000 was recently awarded to Sporting Equals to help 1,500 Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) children and young people across 10 faith groups in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Slough to become more active and play new sports.

“We are delighted to be working with The London Marathon Charitable Trust on this important project, which we strongly believe will make it easier for inactive BAME communities to become more physically active and adopt healthier lifestyles,” says Arun Kang, the Chief Executive of Sporting Equals.

The Trust also recently awarded £205,950 to the Doorstep Sport programme delivered by StreetGames to set up five new year-round activity programmes of various sports for 12-20 year olds across Newcastle, Liverpool and Merthyr Tydfil.

“The generous support of The London Marathon Charitable Trust means a great deal to the team here at StreetGames, and will likely mean even more to the 2,000 disadvantaged young people who stand to benefit from this incredible grant,” says StreetGames’ Chief Executive Jane Ashworth OBE.

Sport for all

In February, The Trust awarded £76,080 to St Cyprian’s Greek Orthodox Primary Academy in Thornton Heath, Croydon towards the creation of a new floodlit multi-sports pitch. This will support a programme of school and community use in partnership with Croydon Council’s ‘Live Well’ team, Croydon Voluntary Action, St Andrews Youth Development Trust and Palace for Life Foundation.

“It has been our long-term goal to develop a former carpark within the school site into a floodlit multi sports pitch,” says Headteacher Vasoula Baron. “Our grateful thanks to The London Marathon Charitable Trust for enabling us to achieve this with their generous grant. With much on the news about inactive lifestyles and their consequences for health, especially obesity, we hope this pitch will provide the local community of all age groups, and our pupils, a welcome space for sport, and encourage exercise as a means to improved wellbeing.”

Orion Harriers

The next generation of runners

Many running clubs have also benefited from grants from The London Marathon Charitable Trust since 1981. Earlier this year, a grant of £95,000 was awarded to the Orion Harriers running club to extend their clubhouse at Jubilee Retreat in Epping Forest. The project includes the expansion of the changing rooms and leisure spaces, allowing the club to provide more opportunities to get people running.

“We urgently need to extend our clubhouse to provide facilities for our expanding junior and beginners’ running groups,” says Grant Corton, Committee Member of Orion Harriers.

“The club has thrived since The London Marathon Charitable Trust helped us move into our current location some nine years ago and we are looking forward to continuing that drive to improve the community’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

And if some of the young runners at Orion Harriers go on to run the London Marathon one day, and join the one-million-plus runners who have completed the 26.2-mile challenge, raising more than £1 billion for good causes along the way, Brasher and Disley’s aims to raise money for sport and recreation, and inspire activity, will have been fully realised.

How The Trust works

The London Marathon Charitable Trust provides funding to enable people to become and remain physically active, and to challenge inequality of access to physical activity.

Every year, the surplus achieved by London Marathon Events Ltd (LMEL) is transferred under Gift Aid to The Trust and the Trustees award grants to organisations that further The Trust’s objective to encourage people to become more active.

The Trust’s current priorities are to fund:

  • Projects that improve facilities in London and Surrey to encourage and support all members of the local community to become and remain physically active.
  • Projects that challenge inequality of access to physical activity and deliver the greatest possible impact for our target audiences: children and young people and underrepresented groups, such as BAME communities, and women and girls.

Facilities Grants

Applications for funding are accepted for facilities projects located in any area where LMEL stages events: currently 32 London boroughs, the City of London and Surrey.

The Trust makes grants four times a year towards the renovation, modernisation or creation of facilities for organisations that can demonstrate a clear commitment to encouraging and supporting people to become and remain physically active.

Small and Major Grants are available from £5,000 to £250,000.

Strategic Partnership Grants

The Trust also works proactively with partners to identify and support ambitious projects that will challenge inequality of access to physical activity.

The Trust can provide revenue funding for the delivery of physical activity programmes as well as funding for facilities and equipment through this programme. The Trust selects Strategic Partnership projects on an invitation-only basis.

“We are really looking at the impact of our funding on participation and activity,” explains Chief Grants Officer Sarah Ridley.

“As we are unable to fund all applications, we are looking for good quality applications from organisations that are committed to getting people active.”

Visit lmct.org.uk for more information about The Trust, the criteria and the application process.