Sports organisations provide lifeline to over 26,000 people and launch 109 programmes around Ireland during Covid-19 pandemic

Pic: Darragh Kane
  • Rethink Ireland’s ‘Sports to Impact Fund’ provides €2.49m in cash grants and additional non financial supports.
  • ExWell Medical- Increase national locations to 20 in the three years providing programmes to over 2,000 participants.
  • Special Olympics Ireland-support almost 8,000 participants, and 2,401 new volunteers in 13 new locations.
  • Sailing Into Wellness- 84 sailing programmes launched for over 900 participants with addiction and mental health issues.

Over the past three years, three national sports organisations, which use sport to increase inclusivity for marginalised groups, have thrived and expanded to reach more socially excluded people despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with support from Rethink Ireland.

Special Olympics Ireland, ExWell Medical and Sailing into Wellness are Awardees of Rethink Ireland’s Sports to Impact Fund (2019 – 2022), a Fund designed to support the most innovative projects across the country that are using sports as a means to create positive social impact in Ireland. Rethink Ireland celebrated the success with the Awardees today at an event in Kinsale onboard the ‘Sailing Into Wellness’ historic vessel, the Ilen.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the three organisations used innovative and creative ways of reaching people who use their services nationwide and managed to increase the number of participants, volunteers, venues, and programmes they provide.

The Sports to Impact Fund is made up of 50% private philanthropic funding, self-raised by the three Awardees. The other half came from Government, through the Department of Rural and Community Development via the Dormant Accounts Fund.

“At Rethink Ireland, we know that sport has the potential to be a great driver of social inclusion and we are committed to supporting the best social innovations to scale and maximise their impact’, says Deirdre Mortell, CEO of Rethink Ireland, ‘These three Awardees have proven that, despite the restrictions of the pandemic, they were able to design and grow programmes which have improved physical, mental and emotional health for many more people and communities.”

“Having that longer-term funding from the Sports to Impact Fund gave us the reassurance that you have to keep the show on the road but that you can also start preparing and looking at the strategy and vision for the future”, said James Lyons, Co-Founder of Sailing Into Wellness.