Groundwork - Active Plaza and 3G Sports Pitch

Encouraging people to both participate in physical activity and to enjoy the natural environment has been central to projects implemented by the environmental regeneration charity Groundwork, one of the key beneficiaries of London Marathon Charitable Trust grants in recent years. The charity has overseen numerous redevelopment projects over a 25-year history and since 2010 have benefited from grants totalling £695,788 going towards nine projects. These include sports parks, play areas and outdoor gyms in areas such as Brent, Islington and Hammersmith and Fulham. These projects have taken place with the help of 15 project partners across seven London Boroughs with over 50,000 new residents engaging in sports and recreation activities.

Ben Coles, Groundwork’s Director of Communities and Environmental Services, explains: “We have a programme of work which we call ’creating better places’. Through that we work on all of our London Marathon Charitable Trust funded projects. Everything within that is a community-led improvement to public open space. As a charity we’re very passionate about improving open space for people to enjoy for a number of reasons, but clearly these spaces are important for sporting and recreational purposes, particularly in densely populated and built-up urban areas. The concept of delivering projects in partnership with the Trust and with the community at its heart is completely in line with our approach. We’re hugely grateful for the support we get from the London Marathon.”

Groundwork usually match pound-for-pound each grant the Trust provides for their projects and the relationship is central to the charity’s work. Coles says: “Sometimes the London Marathon Charitable Trust has been the catalyst for projects being possible, and sometimes it adds huge value to an existing pot of money. It is a hugely vital component in making a lot of these projects happen.”

Two of the projects handed grants in 2014 are the Active Plaza at White City Estate in Hammersmith and Fulham and a new 3G sports pitch in the London Borough of Islington. Coles says: “White City Estate is a very densely populated and quite deprived estate. It’s a fairly big regeneration area and a lot of things are happening there. The Active Plaza will have a range of functions, including outdoor exercise equipment, table tennis tables and outdoor games tables and seats. It’s changing a bit of unused and undervalued space into a multifunctional area where people can come and exercise or go and relax and meet people. It’s a real transformation.

“With 3G, it’s about having a much more realistic playing surface. We recognise that there’s not enough 3G playing surfaces in the UK and it’s something we’re encouraging partners and authorities to adopt in play areas. Clearly when you’re able to leverage in further funding from partners like the London Marathon Charitable Trust, who are keen to support increased activity in sport, it helps.”