Sport Unites

Sport Unites

Sport Unites is the Mayor's flagship community sports programme. It supports his long-term vision to make London the most active and socially-integrated city in the world. 

This programme harnesses the power of sport to bring people from different backgrounds together – strengthening our communities whilst improving the physical and mental health of all Londoners. Sport Unites funds valuable initiatives across the capital. To be the first to know about funding opportunities, subscribe to our monthly update.

Sport Unites is guided by three main themes:

Theme 1: Sport for Social Integration

This 'sport for social integration' theme is the focus of the Sport Unites programme and plays a key role in achieving the Mayor’s ambition to make London the first city in the world to maximise the potential of sport to help us connect with others who are different from ourselves.

Social integration is the extent to which people positively interact with others who are different to themselves. It’s rooted in equality, the nature of our relationships and the way we participate in the communities where we live. This concept – and by extension sport for social integration – is at the heart of the Sport Unites programme. 

Londoners of every gender, ethnicity, faith, culture, age, sexual orientation and socio-economic background should live, not just side by side, but truly connected lives.

To help improve social integration through sport, we are:

  • partnering with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation to facilitate three place-based pilots using its ‘Model City’ approach
  • funding partnerships between non-sport and sporting organisations to deliver initiatives that improve social integration
  • funding initiatives that target socially-isolated people
  • funding initiatives that combine sport with a non-sporting activity
  • supporting some of London’s most talented young athletes to reach their full potential and act as role models in their communities

This theme uses sport to achieve social outcomes – from empowering young people into positive lifestyles to addressing loneliness and social isolation amongst older Londoners. Sport Unites tackles important social issues that affect everyone who calls London home. These issues include inactivity, mental health, serious youth violence, social isolation and social mixing.

Key projects within the sport for social integration theme are: SportsAid, Model City, Young Londoners Fund and London Together.

To be the first to know about funding opportunities within the sport for social integration theme, subscribe to our monthly update.

Theme 2: Active Londoners

The Active Londoners theme of Sport Unites helps to improve the health and wellbeing of inactive Londoners by providing opportunities to become physically active.

Convenience, affordability, and proximity are amongst the key factors that determine whether people exercise regularly.

As such, Active Londoners:

  • funds projects that provide affordable and local participation opportunities that target Londoners who are not sufficiently active, particularly in places where demand outstrips supply
  • invests in ground-breaking pilots that test innovative methods of engaging inactive people
  • Funds projects that support Londoners with mental health difficulties
  • supports social prescribing as a way of linking people to beneficial services

Active Londoners provides small and medium grants to initiatives that offer local and affordable opportunities. Projects should specifically target the 38 per cent of Londoners who are physically inactive.

The Chief Medical Officer defines an inactive person as someone that’s doing less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a week.

To be the first to know about funding opportunities within the Active Londoners theme, subscribe to our monthly update.

Theme 3: Workforce, Tech and Capacity Building

The success of Sport Unites – and the wider Sport for All of Us strategy – relies on a skilled and supported community sports workforce.

This theme offers funding and capacity-building opportunities to people who work and volunteer in sport across the capital. Unlocking the potential of technology also plays a key role to developing the sport sector in London – this includes championing sport tech that promotes activity, innovation and evaluation in community sport.

As part of the Workforce, Tech and Capacity Building theme, we are:

  • rewarding and recognising inspirational coaches for their contribution to community sport and give them the support they need
  • investing in the Civic Innovation Challenge to develop sport tech solutions to address physical activity challenges in London
  • developing the next generation of the paid and volunteer community sporting workforce, and support current workers, by supporting their learning and development, to ensure they are skilled, motivated and valued
  • considering co-investment in London Sport’s sport tech initiatives that develop ideas, prototypes and products

Key projects – Sport Unites


The Sport Unites programme is comprised of key projects that contribute to the Mayor’s long-term vision to make London the most active and socially-integrated city in the world. Find out more about the key projects of Sport Unites and the role they play in improving social integration and getting Londoners active. 

Sport Unites FAQs

1. What is social integration?

The Mayor defines ‘social integration’ as the extent to which people positively interact and connect with others who are different to themselves. It is determined by the level of equality between people, the nature of their relationships, and their degree of participation in the communities in which they live.

Sport Unites is committed to achieving positive social outcomes – from helping reach young people and draw them into positive lifestyles, to alleviating loneliness and social isolation amongst older Londoners. Where possible, we are using the power of sport to help tackle many of the important social issues that affect everyone who calls London home.

The Mayor’s decision to make social integration a priority for sport is consistent with his ambition to place social integration at the heart of all work. This includes policing, housing, transport, education and culture.

2. How do I find out about Sport Unites funding opportunities?

The best way to find out about funding opportunities is to sign up for the sports team’s monthly e-newsletter. This publication features the latest funding updates as part of the Sport Unites programme.

3. I’m finding it hard to complete a grant application. Who should I contact?

If you’re having trouble with an application form, please get in touch with the Mayor’s sports team via [email protected]. We encourage feedback on the grant application process.

4. We aren’t a sporting organisation. Can we apply for funding?

Yes. As part of the Sport Unites programme, we encourage non-sporting organisations to partner with sporting groups to deliver projects.

The Sport Unites programme also supports initiatives that combine sport with other activity – whether it be music, food, philosophy, faith, a cultural event, activism or something else. Combining sport with other non-sport activities is a great way to bring people with different interests together.

5. What does ‘sport’ mean in the context of the Sport Unites programme?

It’s important that we get Londoners to think about sport a little differently. So, the Mayor’s Sport Unites programme sees sport in a new light.

Here, sport means various kinds of physical activities that bring people entertainment, enjoyment and relaxation, such as dance, yoga, tai chi and running. City Hall recognises the term 'sport' can act as a barrier to participation if people don’t enjoy popular options like cricket, netball and football. But – there’s more to sport than that. Ultimately, our goal is to get people active.

We don’t limit the types of sport or activity that we support, which means we also provide funding to lesser-known sports. Funding a wide range of activities is central to encouraging inactive people to get active. When it comes down to it, sport provides Londoners with a sense of pride and purpose. It contributes to our overall health and plays an important role in bringing people together.

6. What are the guiding principles of Sport Unites?

Top-down and bottom-up

This programme is a blend of investment streams. It incorporates both the traditional ‘top- down’ funding rounds (as per the first three phases of the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Programme), as well as ‘bottom-up’ approaches that allow local communities to shape and influence investment decisions and priorities.

Small grants and larger longer-term investment

The programme relies on a wide range of people, groups, and organisations, often working in partnership. These organisations vary in size, type, and levels of experience. They include coaches, youth practitioners, community development workers, traditional sports clubs, community organisations, specialist deliverers, fledgling and established organisations with a long track record. To support all levels of this diverse eco-system, we offer different types and sizes of grants. These include grants that help organisations build capacity by developing their workforce, easy-to-access small grants to support local grassroots providers, and larger grants for projects that will run for longer periods. All grants are subject to a robust assessment method.

Diverse portfolio of funded organisations and incentives for collaboration

We fund and support a wide range of organisations – including community organisations that have well-established relationships with the communities of London. We seek to increase the types of sport and activity that we fund, which may mean funding ‘minority’ or less ‘popular' sports. Having a wide range of activities is important for maximising the chances of encouraging inactive people to take up some form of activity.

A diverse approach to investment

We are investing in both tried and tested approaches, organisations and modes of delivery – as well as pilot initiatives that are innovative and investigational.

Young Londoners Fund

The Young Londoners Fund is at the centre of the Mayor’s work in tackling violent crime across the capital.

It funds projects that give young Londoners an opportunity to get involved in positive activities – like sport – to deter at-risk young people from violence and crime.  

As part of the Sport Unites programme, £3 million of the Young Londoners Fund has been allocated to the delivery of sporting initiatives.

Young Londoners Fund