Mayor launches new programme using sport to bring Londoners together

21 March 2018

Sadiq joins forces with Comic Relief to launch £3million fund

Sport Unites will see investment in talented young Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds and improve the health and wellbeing of inactive Londoners


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today launched 'Sport Unites', an innovative new programme that uses the power of sport to boost social integration, increase participation and improve the physical and mental health of Londoners.


Sadiq has invested £8.8m in his new three-year sports programme which will include funding projects that use sport to bring together people from different backgrounds and strengthen local communities.


The Mayor believes sport is a powerful tool for social change, and can be used to address a range of issues facing communities. It can support the development of essential life skills, develop confidence and improve self-esteem. It’s a great way to strengthen social integration, helping Londoners from all backgrounds to build relationships. Sadiq – who last week launched London’s first social integration strategy - will do this by working with organisations such as Comic Relief and London Sport to promote respect and justice, and engage people at risk of loneliness or marginalisation.


As part of the £8.8m investment, the Mayor today announced the ‘London Together Fund‘ - a new partnership with Comic Relief investing £3m in projects run by Londoners. There will be grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 for sports projects that increase trust between people in communities, reduce isolation and loneliness, support people into work and training, and increase opportunities for people from all backgrounds to volunteer in their communities.


Sadiq announced the new fund at Netball 4 Change, a project funded by money raised through Sport Relief, Comic Relief’s biennial fundraising campaign. Visiting a session at the Harris Academy in Peckham, he saw first-hand how sport is being used to help change lives. The Mayor met young women and girls who are being helped to stay safe on social media, and talked to them about how netball can help them take control of their virtual lives. It is one of the first sports programmes to address social media use. 


Over the last 10 years, money raised through Sport Relief has funded hundreds of projects that use sport to address issues facing communities, as well as supporting vulnerable people with their confidence and self-esteem. 


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am passionate about grassroots sport and we must harness its unique power to bring people together and to break down barriers. Sport can help strengthen social ties and has a long history of tackling discrimination and promoting equality, respect and justice.


“Sport Unites will use sport to improve social integration in our great city and I’m delighted to be working closely with Comic Relief on the London Together Fund to help increase cohesion in our communities and increase opportunities for all.


“As Mayor, one of my biggest priorities is creating a more socially integrated London where people from our city’s many different communities don’t just live side by side but come together and interact meaningfully with one another.


“I am proud that London’s diversity is one of its greatest assets. I want the differences between people and communities in London to be celebrated, rather than merely tolerated. Sport has an important role to play in realising this vision.”


Sue Wicks, Head of Investment at Comic Relief, said: “Being at a project like Netball 4 Change to mark the launch of this new fund really brings home why we are so passionate about sport as a way of changing lives. I’ve been lucky to meet so many inspirational people in my time at Comic Relief who have lived through incredibly tough circumstances, but would not have engaged with the support on offer without sport to draw them in. At a time when people are becoming increasingly separate from the communities they live in, it is really exciting to be joining forces with the Mayor of London to try and help change that.”


Sport Unites will provide investment for initiatives that use sport to improve social integration, reduce prejudice between communities, and ensure isolated Londoners feel better connected and supported. Funded initiatives will bring people from different backgrounds together and strengthen bonds between participants that lead to understanding, acceptance and celebration of people who are different from themselves.


City Hall will also support London Sport’s ground-breaking work to boost the development of ‘Sport Tech’ in London and its mission to get 1,000,000 Londoners more physically active by 2020. The Mayor’s new funding will also provide direct support and training for the coaches and workforce who deliver sport on the frontline and those who work with the people and communities his programme will serve. This will result in a workforce that is more motivated and better equipped to encourage Londoners to get active and stay active and bring people together.


Sport Unites will:

  • Use sport to improve social integration.
  • Improve the health and wellbeing of inactive Londoners by giving them chances to be physically active.
  • Develop the paid and volunteer community sport workforce.
  • Invest in talented young Londoners from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Increase awareness of ‘sport for social integration’
  • Invest in thought leadership to showcase the bold decision to make social integration outcomes a priority focus for community sports.
  • Using sports technology to make Londoners healthier, happier, integrated and more active.


Oliver Lee, chief executive officer of The Challenge, said: “Research shows that not only is sport incredibly good for our physical and mental wellbeing but it also taps into emotions that accelerate the bonding process.


"Sport is an excellent way to bring people of all backgrounds together in a social setting that is fun and helps create meaningful relationships. The Mayor’s London Together Fund will help promote social integration in an enjoyable way that connects our communities.”


Tove Okunniwa, Chief Executive, of London Sport said: “We all know how powerful sport can be in bringing people together, and it is great to see Sport Unites championing such a bold ambition for its role in London. The Mayor’s commitment to using sport in this way is a powerful statement in support of its place in society, and in making London a happier and healthier city. London Sport look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor and his team, and with projects and communities throughout London, to help deliver the ambitions of Sport Unites and to make London the most physically active city in the world.”

Notes to editors

For more information about the Sport Unites programme, please visit:


Sport Unites is a £8.8m fund, £3m of which is ring-fenced specifically to benefit young Londoners aged between 10-21 as part of the Mayor’s Young Londoners Fund. In addition to the Young


Londoners investment stream, the programme will see a further £5.8m of GLA funding invested into community sport in London from April 2018 – March 2021 across three themes: Sport for Social Integration (£2.8M), Active Londoners (£1.25m) and Workforce and Capacity Building (£1.75m).


To find out more and to apply for funding from London Together please visit:


More information about London’s first social integration policy can be found here:


Comic Relief is a UK charity, which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion.


That money has helped, and is helping, people both at home in the UK and across the world. For information about Comic Relief and the work it carries out, please visit Comic, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730

Share this page