Active Suffolk celebrates after receiving over £220,000 of funding to continue their incredibly successful Fit Villages project

Active Suffolk celebrates after receiving over £220,000 of funding to continue their incredibly successful Fit Villages project

Posted: Wed, 6 Dec 2023 08:00

Fit Villages Session; A Keep Fit session in Freckenham

Active Suffolk, the Active Partnership for Suffolk, is today celebrating after being awarded a total of over £220,000 in funding from National Lottery funding, Suffolk County Council, the West Suffolk Alliance and West Suffolk Council to support its work in helping rural communities to get active.

The already incredibly successful project that is now entering its thirteenth year plays a vital role supporting Active Suffolk's vision to inspire more people across Suffolk to get active, improving their health and wellbeing. The funding will be used to continue setting up more physical activity sessions for adults aged over 55 by using local facilities such as community centres, village halls, libraries and playing fields.

Suffolk has double the national average (39.7%) of residents living in rural areas and nearly a quarter (24%) of Suffolk's population are over 65 years old, which will likely increase to one in three adults by 2039. Fit Villages is a project designed to help maintain a healthy and active aging population, build community cohesion and to help reduce the associated health costs of inactivity in adults across Suffolk.

The new aim for Fit Villages is to set up 30 village activities per year, which will benefit between 8 and 20 participants per individual project and therefore over the lifetime of the new funding, there will be between 600 and 1200 benefitting participants.

Several of the projects are still currently being delivered and so Active Suffolk have been seeing the benefits of these projects in real-time but have already engaged with over 30 villages. Just some of the villages where projects have taken place include Kedington, Yaxley, Layham, Barrow and Campsea Ashe.

Laura Spooner, Senior Development Officer for Active Suffolk, said: "We're delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund, Suffolk County Council, the West Suffolk Alliance and West Suffolk Council have recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players and our match funders we will be able to continue making sure that older adults living in more rural areas have the opportunity to get active in a way that is accessible to them. Not only does this then benefit their physical health, but it also helps to address the problems that can come from living in rural areas such as feeling socially isolated. We're incredibly proud of our Fit Villages project and we're looking forward to facilitating even more activities across Suffolk in the near future."

The project was initially supported by £30,000 of funding from Suffolk County Council's Public Mental Health Fund which has been used as match funding. The Public Mental Health programme aims to support the things that keep us all mentally well in our day-to-day lives. These include activities that keep us moving and bring us together with other people from our communities.

Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, said: "It's fantastic news that Active Suffolk have been able to secure additional funding to extend the Fit Villages Project for an additional 2 years and that support from Suffolk County Council has contributed to this. We all know the health benefits of being active and the Fit Villages project plays a key role in providing opportunities for residents in our rural communities to do so. I look forward to seeing many more villages across the county getting involved in the coming months.

West Suffolk Council has supported the Fit Villages Project using £12,702 of the money it was allocated by Government from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Cllr Donna Higgins, Cabinet Member for Families and Communities at West Suffolk Council said: "This brilliant initiative is about helping people across rural West Suffolk feel less isolated and alone by getting them out, socialising and getting active at exercise programmes close to where they live. It supports both their physical and mental health and that's why we are delighted to be able to support the Fit Villages project."

The National Lottery Community Fund which has provided a large amount of funding for this project recently launched its new strategy, 'It starts with community', which will underpin its efforts to distribute at least £4 billion of National Lottery funding by 2030.

As part of this, the funder has four key missions, which are to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. Thanks to them, last year The National Lottery Community Fund was able to distribute over half a billion pounds (£615.4 million) of life-changing funding to communities.

To find out more about The National Lottery Community Fund, please visit or to find out more about the work of Active Suffolk and their Fit Villages project, please visit Active Suffolk – Fit Villages.

Tags: Ageing Health, Chair-based Exercise, Community, Exercise, Fit Villages, Funding, Keep Fit, National Lottery, Older Adults, Physical Activity, Pilates, Rural, Sport, Suffolk, Suffolk County Council, Village Hall, West Suffolk Council, Yoga