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Active Thames

Major boost for Active Thames 2024

Fulham Reach Boat Club

Tideway, the company behind London’s super sewer, has given Active Thames a major boost in 2024.

The PLA’s partnership programme, Active Thames, encourages more people to get active on or by the tidal Thames and inland waterways. Tideway’s new funding marks the year when the new infrastructure starts to clean up the river, and is in addition to the £150,000 of Active Thames grants awarded to 23 projects across London, Kent and Essex in January this year. 


Poplar Horca
Previous grant recipient Poplar HARCA (Photo by Sylvie Belbouab)

Active Thames covers a wide range of activities including sailing, paddle sports, rowing and walking, from West London to Southend-on-Sea. Most of the Active Thames funding is directed towards projects engaging people who are less likely to be active, including people with disabilities and long-term health conditions.

The application period for grants, which can range from £500 to £5,000, opens 11 March 2024 and closes on 7 April 2024.

Commenting on Tideway’s extra funding, PLA’s Sports Manager, Jenny Cooper, said: “This boost in grant funding will allow clubs to reach out to new audiences with taster days, courses and family-friendly events. We hope that clubs take the opportunity to join in the push this summer to get more people out enjoying the best that a cleaner river has to offer.”

Later this year, the Thames Tideway Tunnel will be activated for the first time, beginning its work of protecting the Thames from sewage pollution

Once fully operational next year, the super sewer will significantly reduce sewage discharges into the tidal River Thames for generations to come.

John Sage, Head of Corporate Responsibility for Tideway, said: “We are delighted to be able to help Active Thames get more people connected to the river in 2024, the year that we start to clean it up. The Thames is a fantastic yet underused asset. Through the community partnerships we have developed during the project, we have seen how connecting with the Thames has a positive effect on people’s wellbeing. This funding will allow more people to experience that.”

Previous applicants or beneficiaries of Active Thames grants are welcome to apply again.

Phoenix Canoe Club
Previous grant recipient Phoenix Canoe Club

Application information


All projects should aim to improve diversity of participation, particularly among under-represented groups including:

  • People with disabilities
  • People with long term health conditions
  • People from lower socio-economic groups
  • Ethnically diverse communities
  • LGBTQ+ communities.

We are particularly keen to see applications for projects that will:

  • Provide taster days/events in the summer to increase community participation on or by the river, in the year that the Thames Tideway Tunnel starts to clean it up.
  • Encourage people to be more environmentally aware and/or active – the Tideway project is delivering a long-term environmental benefit to London.
  • Develop the workforce (coaches, volunteers and administrative support) to encourage greater sustainability for clubs that get people active, on or by the river. Please ensure you are able to complete any training within the expected timeframe.

We welcome applications seeking funding between £500-£5000.

Previous applicants or beneficiaries of Active Thames grants are welcome to apply again.

Eligibility and monitoring

You will need to complete our online form providing detailed information about how you intend to use the funding and who the intended beneficiaries are. Please note the following:

Beneficiaries and activities provided should be based on or alongside waterways in Greater London, Kent or Essex. This includes docks, basins, reservoirs, canals, lakes and rivers that are connected to the tidal Thames and its Estuary.

The grant is available for any formally constituted, not-for-profit or statutory organisation providing physical activity opportunities on or beside the water.

The bulk of the project should commence by July 2024 and the majority of the project should be completed by the end of December 2024.

One of the objectives of Active Thames is to raise awareness of how people can use waterways for physical activity. Successful applicants are required to work with the Sports Manager to help promote walking and watersports. They are also required to evidence how the grant has been spent and notify the Sports Manager of any issues. A full report will be required when the project has concluded. Here’s an example of a monitoring and evaluation form, which previous grants recipients have completed.

Applications will be measured against the following criteria:

  • meeting the objectives.
  • having a clear delivery outline and timeframe in place.

All activities which are open to the public must also be digitally accessible and compliant with Open Active standards. More information about Open Active is available here. If you are not familiar with Open Active, please contact Sports Manager Jenny Cooper-Low to find out more at [email protected].

You must have Safeguarding and Equal Opportunities policies in place. If you do not have them, Buddle has guidance you can review. An Active Thames partner may visit your activity and ask for proof of your safeguarding policy and/or equal opportunities policy at any time.

Frequently asked

What area does Active Thames focus on? 

Waterways in Greater London, Kent and Essex. This includes docks, basins, reservoirs, canals, lakes and rivers that feed participation into the tidal Thames and its Estuary. Projects on inland waterways should be those directly connected to the Thames.

What won’t this fund? 

We won’t fund retrospective costs, marketing costs, or organisations known to be acting unsafely or harming the environment. Organisations must have policies in place for safeguarding and equal opportunities. We are very unlikely to fund private schools or elite sport.

Can I apply as an individual or a friendship group?

We can only give grants to constituted organisations with a bank account. You do not have to be a sports club.

I want to find out more and possibly apply. How can I find out more?

You are welcome to join our online drop in for an informal conversation with some of the partners on the following dates:

I have received funding in the past/I have been unsuccessful in the past. Can I apply again?

Yes, you can apply again. If you have received funding previously, please ensure that the Sports Manager has received a complete update on projects, including the monitoring and evaluation form.

Who decides if I get funding?

The Active Thames partners and Tideway will review all applications and decide which organisations receive funding.

When will I hear back?

You will know the outcome of your application the week commencing 20 May 2024.


The application period closes on 7 April 2024.

Applications can only be made online via the following form. You will know the outcome of your application the week commencing 20 May 2024.

Your application will be shared with the Active Thames partners and Tideway who will form the grant review panel: Active Essex, Kent Sport, London Sport, British Canoeing, British Rowing, RYA, Canal & River Trust, Thames Path National Trail and the PLA. Your application may be shared with other potential funders at the discretion of the Sports Manager Jenny Cooper-Low — if you object to this, please contact her.

If you have questions about the grant, you are welcome to join one of our online drop-in session on the following dates:

Applications are now closed.

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