Virgin Money donation allows The London Marathon Charitable Trust to award £600,000 to inspire activity among young homeless people

The London Marathon Charitable Trust (The Trust) has awarded a £600,000 grant to a project that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of young homeless people in North England and Scotland through the power of sport.

The grant to Active Partnerships’ Young People Forward project was made possible by a generous donation of £600,000 from Virgin Money, the title sponsor of the London Marathon which is owned by London Marathon Events, the trading company for The Trust.

Active Partnerships will work directly with just under 600 young people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness while also developing a programme model that can be rolled out to inspire activity in many more.

The funding will be distributed by Active Partnerships to seven delivery partners in the North of England and Scotland which will provide physical activity sessions in 11 areas: Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Humber, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, Edinburgh, West Lothian and Glasgow.

According to data from the Office of National Statistics, about 25% of all applications for help with homelessness or being accepted for a housing duty come from people aged 25 or below. In the areas targeted by this project, there were 13,406 homeless young people reported in the North West in 2018/2019, 9,453 in Yorkshire and the Humber, 4,967 in the North East and 6,996 in Scotland. (Centrepoint Youth Homelessness Databank).

Sir Rodney Walker, Chairman of The London Marathon Charitable Trust, said: “The Trust is committed to supporting projects that challenge the inequality of access to physical activity so that everyone has the opportunity to be active, supporting their health and wellbeing. It is with great thanks to Virgin Money for their generous donation that we have been able to work together to support this important initiative – the timing of which could not be more significant. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the inequalities faced by many vulnerable people, and the Young People Forward project will use the power of physical activity to improve the lives of many young people facing homelessness.”

Helen Page, Group Brand and Marketing Director for Virgin Money, said: “It’s heart-breaking that homelessness continues to be so widespread in our society. There has never been a more important time to break down the barriers which prevent the most vulnerable young people in our society from accessing sport and physical activity as a way to improve their lives. The link between physical and emotional wellbeing is fundamental and Virgin Money is honoured to support this initiative, which will help improve the lives of young people at a time when they need it most.”

Doug Patterson, Chairman of Active Partnerships, said: “Active Partnerships is delighted to be part of this exciting and important project that will use sport and physical activity as a catalyst to support homeless young people to face the challenges in their life. We are very grateful for the backing of Virgin Money and The London Marathon Charitable Trust and look forward to collaborating on this truly inspirational project, that we hope will pave the way for similar approaches in other parts of the UK.”

The grant has been awarded through The Trust’s Strategic Partnership Grants programme, which supports impactful projects across the UK that will inspire activity and challenge the inequality of access to physical activity for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.