Active Families Project

We are celebrating after being awarded £314,000 of National Lottery funding from  to help low income families in Manchester get active with their children.

Four out of five primary school children do not get the recommended amount of daily exercise of 60 minutes a day, and are missing out on the benefits it brings. Children from low income families are most likely to do very little physical activity.[1]


We are one of the first projects to receive investment from a £40 million National Lottery funding pot that Sport England has dedicated to helping families get active together.

The fund is a key part of Sport England’s focus on helping young people have an enjoyable experience of sport and physical activity so they develop a positive attitude towards being active at an early age and continue being active in later life.

Sport England are funding organisations that help families get active together, because parents and close family members can have a big impact on children’s experiences. As well as giving children direct access to sporting opportunities, Sport England research[2] shows that they are also significant role models in helping their children get active – because how a parent behaves impacts what a child sees as important.

Parents who are active themselves, and enjoy it, can encourage positive feelings about exercise and its value in their children. Yet many parents lack the skills or confidence to take part in sport with their children as they fear they cannot keep up. For example, if adults don’t know how to swim or lack confidence on a bike, this has a knock-on impact on the activities they feel they can do as a family and how much they encourage children to take part.

Each of the funded projects will work to address this by building adults’ confidence around getting active with their children, and by providing experiences for families that are enjoyable, convenient and low cost.

Using the familiar and friendly school environment, our project will start by enabling families to do fun, accessible activities together after school. They will also be given challenges to take home to help them make their lifestyle more active through small changes to their daily routines. Groups of families will then be encouraged to support each other to be active and to access other opportunities and facilities together in the evenings or weekends’ e.g swimming, cycling or walking. Parent volunteers will be trained as Family Activity Champions to facilitate the activities, boost confidence, overcome barriers and generally support the families in becoming more active.

Sport England’s Director of Children and Young People Jayne Molyneux said:

“It’s not right that four in five children don’t get enough exercise and are missing out on the health benefits it brings. Just by seeing their parents being active, children can be inspired to do the same, and if they have an enjoyable experience they’re far more likely to continue as an adult.”

“Parents have many demands on their time, and often lack the confidence to get active with their children. That’s why Sport England is working hard to make getting active with your children an easy choice. With this new National Lottery funding, PEN will be able to trial a new model enabling families to be part of supportive groups where they encourage each other and experience and enjoy fun activities together. Families will also be helped to identify small lifestyle changes that will increase their activity levels. PEN will explore how parent volunteers can facilitate this work and hopes to produce a model that can be rolled out through schools nationally and materials and training to support this.

Emma Beresford, PEN’s Director, said:

“The Parental Engagement Network, as a Manchester based not-for-profit social enterprise, is delighted to have this amazing opportunity. From our extensive experience we believe that families sometimes struggle to effect change on their own but that, through a support network of other families and encouragement from school staff and parent volunteers they are more likely to make, enjoy and maintain positive life changes. This Lottery Funding will enable us to make a real impact on the activity levels of Manchester families .”

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests up to £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport.

It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active – like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

[1] The Chief Medical Officer recommends that children and young people do at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls meet the national recommended level of activity. 47% of children from the households with the lowest incomes do low levels of activity. Health Survey for England 2016: Children’s health information

[2] Sport England commissioned-research conducted by The Behavioural Architects 2017