Active Thames, led by the Port of London Authority (PLA), has awarded £150,000 in grants to 26 successful applicants. The increase in funding from over £90,000 last year to nearly £150,000 this year demonstrates the continuing commitment Active Thames partners have made to promoting activity on the tidal Thames and inland waterways in London, Kent, and Essex.
Active Thames aims to encourage groups that are less likely to engage in physical activity on the river, including individuals from ethnically diverse communities, lower socio-economic groups, and people with disabilities.
The recipients of this year’s round of funding cover a wide range of activities, including sailing, paddlesports, rowing and, for the first time this year, walking.
The funding will reach a diverse range of groups along the tidal Thames and inland waterways, from SilverFit, which aims to promote happier, healthier aging through physical activity, to South London Scouts, which works with 14-25 year olds and ensures that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are able to take part in all their activities.
Jenny Cooper, PLA sports manager, said:
“Building on the success of last year’s grants, 2023 Active Thames funding will help deliver our Thames Vision: more people using the river for leisure.
“All the successful applicants have demonstrated how they will help us to achieve the goals of Active Thames, which is to make the river more inclusive, diverse and accessible to all.”
This is a full list of the successful grant applicants:
The AHOY Centre, based in Deptford, will host the East London Instructor Programme, to tackle the shortage of qualified coaches in London, Kent and Essex and strengthen the future of sailing. An investment of £17,400 into the watersports workforce will support young sailors to qualify as instructors. Local clubs can signpost young people to this programme and see them progress into coaching.
A further £2,700 grant will help the centre to change lives through rowing and sailing.
AquaPaddle who organises paddleboarding sessions for individuals and groups who would not be able to do so otherwise due to their financial hardship, disability, or social circumstances, will receive a £5,000 award to provide at least 100 stand-up paddleboarding sessions in central and east London.
Blue Therapy Active is a thriving community of people who enjoying being on, in or near the water. Offering paddlesports, swimming, walking and cycling to the people of Essex, the group continues to expand and is in need of more equipment. £4,980 will support the club to engage with more people over the coming year and build on the achievements of last year’s Active Thames grant.
Cambria Sea Scouts, working in Greenhithe and Dartford, will receive a grant of £3,105, to be able to offer six powerboat courses, ten VHF radio courses, and 12 First Aid courses. They also intend to offer sailing sessions for the wider community at a low cost.
Erith Yacht Club will receive a grant of £5,000 for several initiatives. Volunteers will be sponsored to achieve RYA Senior and Dinghy Instructor qualifications, the club will purchase a Drascombe lugger and be better-equipped to provide sessions for people with disabilities, and the club will continue to work closely with their local activity centre, Danson Park Adventures, so that young people taking part in sport on the lake can progress their skills and enjoy the Thames.
Fulham Reach Boat Club’s state school rowing project will be supported by a £5,000 grant. Young people in Years 9-13 will be given the opportunity to row on the Thames in Hammersmith without any financial barriers. The club will work with schools to ensure the students selected are those who are likely to benefit from rowing the most and, if young people want to continue to row, they will be able to sign up as members.
Building on the success of last year’s project, which also received funding from Active Thames, Gravesend Sailing Club needs a new safety boat to support club and community sessions. A grant of over £3,000 will enhance the safety provision at the club and to do more to work with local groups, such as the Sea Cadets.
Laburnum Boat Club will be able to continue their Inclusive Waters project for a second year. It will also mean they can expand the project to include walking trips and introduce young people to the Thames Path. Disadvantaged youths will benefit from kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding and walking. The grant of £4,956 will also help to upskill the coaches at the charity and support their development too.
The Leaside Trust in East London will receive a grant of £2,400 and provide a girls’ club that builds upon their engagement with the Orthodox Jewish community, supporting canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding sessions. This grant will support the outreach of the East London charity, who work with around 6,000 people a year.
London Youth Rowing’s Active Row programme has a commitment of £20,000 a year for the next two years, which will be used to expand to work with schools in Gravesend. Schools will be provided with coaching and indoor rowing machines to set up a club, and progress to rowing on the water at Gravesend Rowing Club in the spring and summer.
Lower Thames Rowing Club, based at Old Leigh and Two Tree Island in Essex, has established a strong link with mental health charity Trust Links. With a grant of £5,000 and existing club funds, they will purchase a new rowing boat, which will allow them to offer more taster sessions, and continue their work with Trust Links.
Margate Yacht Club is in need of a new engine for their safety boat, so that they can confidently provide a reliable and safe environment for people to learn and participate in dinghy sailing, canoeing and paddleboarding. £5,000 will provide most of the funding needed to purchase a new engine at the club.
Newham Ability Camp is a pan disability sports group running 3 activity sessions a week. The club founder, Paul Archer, is looking forward to being able to offer people the chance to take part in rowing again this summer with a grant of £400. The club had a very positive experience on the water last year with the support of coaches from London Youth Rowing.
The Pirate Castle has several community programmes in place, such as after-school clubs and holiday programmes for young people, LGBTQ+ Rainbow paddlers, and an ‘Upper-Deckers’ club for over 50s. £4,970 will develop 12 new coaches and instructors, which in turn will help deliver the programmes.
A grant of over £4,800 will enable Poplar Harca, a housing association, to build on a successful pilot project they have been working on with Moo Canoes. Women from the area will complete the Paddle Discover award, and kickstart a new boat club on the canal. Funding will also provide swimming sessions, boosting the confidence and skills of the women involved.
The Proper Blokes Club is a community project for men’s mental health. £5,000 will support more walk and talks along the Thames Path national trail, and the club hopes to double their membership over the coming year. They run regular walks in several areas along the Thames in South London, including Greenwich, Woolwich and Southwark.
The Ramblers will receive over £8,000 to develop two projects; guided walks along the Thames Path and the England Coast Path, as well as walk-leader training days for community groups and leaders who wish to organise walking sessions. It is hoped that this grant, managed by the Ramblers, will be helpful to other applicants who wanted to develop walk leaders.
Re-Instate is a charity working to improve employment opportunities, quality of life and well-being for disadvantaged people in the London Borough of Bexley including people experiencing mental ill-health, people with learning disabilities, autistic adults and young people. £5,000 will support the 215 Smiles project to run two weekly walking groups on the Thames path: one for people with learning disabilities and another for people experiencing mental ill-health.
A grant of £6,000 will support two projects at the Sea-Change Sailing Trust. The trust will provide a sailing residential for people with disabilities aboard the engineless traditional Thames barge the Blue Mermaid, targeting community groups in Kent and Essex. The funding will also enable them to train up 6 new recruits, helping to secure the future of Thames sailing barges.
Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre has a strong reputation for developing the young people they work with into water sports coaches. A grant of over £4,000 will support Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre’s adventure coach training scheme, supporting young people to become qualified as outdoor activity instructors.
SilverFit, founded by the UK’s oldest female Ironman triathlete, aims to promote happier, healthier aging through physical activity and, at the same time, combat social isolation. £5,860 will support the charity through developing new Nordic walking leaders, who will run sessions along the Thames Path in Kingston. SilverFit will source new members through targeted outreach into deprived communities, and through GP referrals (social prescribing).
South London Scouts aims to triple the number of 14-25 years olds they work with over the next three years. Canoeing expeditions and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme are made available to young people, with support mechanisms in place to ensure those from lower socio-economic backgrounds can take part in all of their activities. £3,500 will support their work and cover the cost of training and qualifications for the volunteers who run the scout group.
Thames Barbarians is a pilot gig rowing club based in Gravesend. Supported by Active Thames in 2022, this year’s grant of £5,000 will help maintain their momentum in club growth. They will continue to provide open days for people to try out fixed seat rowing and recruit new members, whilst also growing their competitive section.
A grant of £2,000 will launch a series of Cool Walks and support the Rewilding Arcadia project run by Thames Landscape Strategy. As well as exercise, the walks will boost mental well-being and provide companionship. They hope to increase the activity levels of people who might normally find walking challenging.
Building on the success of last year’s Visually Impaired Paddling programme, Tower Hamlets Canoe Club has secured over £3,000, which will allow them to continue to run beginner courses and offer paddling trips away from the basin. The club will also purchase equipment to adapt to the needs of blind and visually impaired paddlers, such as audio guiding equipment and lights.
Writtle University College will soon be able to offer stand-up paddleboarding to their community of students, local schools, youth groups and disability groups. Having already invested in a jetty for the on-campus reservoir, new equipment will help launch the reservoir as a new space to be active. With strong existing links to charities such as Chelmsford Disability Club, Writtle are looking forward to making a conscious effort to run multiple inclusive sessions, as well as events, open days and work experience opportunities.
Strong applications that build on last year’s grants to Sport Works and Herne Bay Sailing Club have also been put forward for Sport England funding, and a further £1500 will be provided to the sailing community.
Active Thames is a partnership programme in place to support the development of sports and physical activity on and around the tidal Thames and inland waterways in London, Kent and Essex.
Partners Active Essex, Active Kent & Medway, London Sport, British Canoeing, British Rowing, Royal Yachting Association, Canal & River Trust, Thames Path National Trail and the PLA are committed to expanding access and inclusion in watersports and walking.
With over 15,000 football pitches worth of blue space, the tidal Thames is a fantastic place to get active. There is also an extensive network of inland waterways, which provide even more space for people to enjoy, and perfect locations to gain the skills and confidence needed to take on the tidal river.