As sport and physical activity continues its gradual and long-awaited reopening, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE has joined forces with Sport England and a host of sporting organisations to pay tribute to volunteers up and down the country who have helped keep spirits high over the course of the last year.
The past 12 months have hit the sport and physical activity sector hard, but volunteers have embraced the opportunity to step up in these times of need to give something back and embrace the chance to make good use of their time.
FromÂ helping to make their club Covid-safe to enable a return to play, to reaching out to support their wider communities through food banks, delivering medicines, or checking in on neighbours, sports volunteers have gone above and beyond, and this is a contribution Baroness Grey-Thompson is keen to recognise.
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"We know thatâ€¯the coronavirus pandemic has been aâ€¯difficult andâ€¯challenging time.â€¯â€¯But we also knowâ€¯this period has brought out the best in us too," she said.
"It's been a time of kindness, of giving,â€¯andâ€¯of selflessness, where people have really stepped up to help their communities.
"To the millions of people helping grassroots sport and activity come through these difficult times, we want to sayâ€¯a huge and heartfelt thank you.â€¯Thank you for your incredible dedicationâ€¯and commitment.â€¯â€¯Thank youâ€¯for supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people.
"You've improved lives and helped your communities when they needed you most."
At a time when sports clubs and organisations have faced unprecedented challenges, the invaluable role of those who give up their time to support the sport sector has never been more apparent.
Six million adults and 1.6 million children and young people volunteer every year to help sport and physical activity happen, and Sport England's Director of Sport Phil Smith says the support of this workforce will be key in helping sport recover over the coming months.
He said: "The last 12 months have been an incredibly challenging time for the sport sector, but without the support of huge numbers of volunteers who have stepped up, things would have been significantly harder.
"With the support of our amazing volunteers,Â we can help community sport thrive again and to enable people to benefit from all the great things we know sportÂ and physical activityÂ can provide.
"With many clubsÂ and groups beginning to restart, it is the perfect timeÂ toÂ appreciateÂ the amazing efforts ofÂ our sector's volunteers; to say thank youÂ forÂ working so tirelessly toÂ keep theirÂ clubs and communityÂ organisationsÂ going, andÂ for going the extra mile".
In a video released by Sport England's Club Matters Programme #ClubMatters, Baroness Grey-Thompson joins Sport England and a swathe of national governing bodies of sport and wider partners in a collective message of appreciation to all who play their part in enabling sport and physical activity to take place.
Despite these challenging times, Baroness Grey-Thompson believes there is reason to be optimistic for the future of grassroots sport, urging volunteers to continue to give their time.
She said: "The familiar sights and sounds of the sports and activities we love will soon return.Â But this can only happen because of volunteers, so please, keepâ€¯giving whatever time you canâ€¯â€“ and keep making the difference."
Club Matters is a Sport England, Lottery Funded Programme that provides free advice, guidance, and resources to help sports clubs, groups, and community organisations. Club Matters has lots of resources designed to help these organisations return to play, support their participants, recruit new volunteers and much more. For further information please visit:Â www.sportenglandclubmatters.com
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