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Big Issue Invest and Sport England join forces to improve the lives of young people affected by Covid 19


Today, the social investment arm of The Big Issue, Big Issue Invest (BII), is investing £1.25 million from its Outcomes Investment Fund, set up with investment from Big Society Capital, into a programme that will support over 6,000 young people across 21 local areas in the UK to improve their lives, through sports and activity.

The Chances Programme, co-developed by Substance in partnership with the Life Chances Fund, Sport England and BII, is committed to harnessing the power of sport to enhance the life-chances of disadvantaged young people aged 8-17 years, for the next three years

The investment will be used to create new opportunities to empower young people to get active and re-engage with education and skills provision; targeting those who are from low socio-economic backgrounds, have an offending record and/or low school attendance.

This is the first time Sport England have commissioned outcomes through a Social Impact Bond (SIB). With more than 20 commissioners, including Local Authorities and The Life Chances Fund, this is the largest number of commissioners engaged in a SIB in the world.

Substance, a research and technology company, that specialises in sport and physical activity and community regeneration, will work with its network of 16 locally trusted organisations[1]. These will be based at youth and community facilities where young people meet – where there will be opportunities to get active, engage with learning and volunteer.

The programme offers sessions focusing on sport and physical activities, martial arts, dance, enterprise and social action projects, photography, emergency aid, residential experiences and expeditions.

Recent research has shown that one in five young people report involvement in crime and antisocial behaviour and there are around 75,000 new entrants into the youth justice system every year.[2]

Further research suggests that young people from low socio-economic backgrounds are about 50% less likely to take part in regular sport, volunteer, compete, be coached or hold club membership than those from high income households.[3]

The Chances Programme is currently delivered in Doncaster, Bristol and Devon. During March and April, it will be rolled out to eighteen more local authority areas.

Susie Murphy, Senior Manager of Positive Youth Foundation in Coventry said: “We are excited to be able to deliver our services and programmes across the city again; we know that the impact of Covid have been profound and many young people have had their lives derailed over the last twelve months. The Chances Programme, which we helped pilot a couple of years ago, will ensure hundreds of young people in Coventry improve their physical and mental health and their life chances. Investment in young people, particularly those living in our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, is more critical than ever.”

Aqsa Asif, a Chances programme participant, said: “The time on Chances really helped me figure out my next steps in life. It got me into a really good headspace where I felt healthier, happier and the feeling I actually had something to contribute. It got me back on track with college.”

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive of Sport England said: “Whilst it’s been hard for our children and young people to be active over the past year, this is an exciting project using physical activity to build happier and more productive lives & we are really proud to be a part of it. The Social Impact Bond model used for this project embodies the values of collaboration and innovation that we wish to live by in our new strategy, and this new model represents an excellent opportunity to diversify and develop our investment approach.”

Dr. Tim Crabbe, Chief Executive of Substance, said: “Substance is excited to have developed a model that delivers outcomes with tangible value rather than just opportunities to get involved. It is based on insight and learning about what works from its evaluation of hundreds of community based physical activity programmes.”

Danyal Sattar, Chief Executive of Big Issue Invest, said: “We have a number of investments supporting vulnerable children, whose lives this year have been further disrupted by Covid and we are delighted to have worked on this with Substance and partners. This is one of our largest investments and the combination of positive social impact on the lives of young people while working across multiple providers and commissioners to deliver outcomes through sports development is exciting.”

To find out more about the Chances programme or using social investment to deliver outcomes through the use of sports development, please contact:

For more information, images and interview requests please contact Vicky Major, Group Marketing and Communications Executive, on 07875081629 or email

For more information from Substance, please contact Neil Watson on 0161 244 5418 or email

[1] A full list of all delivery organisations is below

[2] Alliance of Sport, 2020

[3] Street Games, 2020

(Image Source: Sport England)


Notes to Editors

Organisations involved in the programme are as follows:

  1. Arsenal in the Community (London)
  2. Aston Villa Foundation (Midlands)
  3. Exeter City Community Trust (South West)
  4. Flying Futures – Doncaster (North)
  5. Foundation of Light – Sunderland (North East)
  6. Leyton Orient Trust (London)
  7. Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation (North East)
  8. Newcastle United Foundation (North East)
  9. Oxfordshire Youth (South East)
  10. Palace for Life Foundation (London)
  11. Positive Youth Foundation – Coventry (West Midlands)
  12. Watford Community Sports and Education Trust (East of England)
  13. Wigan Athletic Community Trust (North West)
  14. Youth Moves – Bristol (South West)


About Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest extends The Big Issue’s mission by financing the growth of sustainable social enterprises and charities across the UK. Big Issue Invest offers loans and investment from £20,000 to £3 million. Since launching in 2005, we have invested in over 400 organisations, all of which have positively influenced the lives of people across the UK. Big Issue Invest currently manages or advises on £350 million of social funds. We are also bringing the mainstream to social investment with the UK Social Bond Fund, in partnership with Columbia Threadneedle, and the UK Equity Impact – Employment Opportunities Fund, in collaboration with Aberdeen Standard Investments. Big Issue Invest is also helping to pave the way for 3.4 million social housing tenants to potentially improve their credit, by partnering with Experian on The Rental Exchange. The capital raised by Big Issue Invest comes from mainly private sources and not from sales of the magazine and Big Issue Invest pays any dividends generated by our investments to our parent company, The Big Issue Group. Created by social entrepreneurs, for social entrepreneurs and a steadfast champion of social enterprise. For more information go to:

About Big Issue Invest’s Outcomes Investment Fund

The Outcomes Investment Fund (OIF) was launched by Big Issue Invest in May 2017 with an investment of £10 million from Big Society Capital. The Outcomes Investment Fund has made several investments, supporting people with complex, multiple needs to achieve outcomes including sustainable accommodation, employment, education and training, improved mental and physical health and well-being. OIF investments support many charities and social enterprises in the UK to deliver outcomes-based contracts and scale their impact.

About Substance

Substance works with charities, social businesses and government. Our core team is made up of highly-experienced social researchers, technologists and programme managers, each with their own specialisms. What we share is an ambition to make organisations that do good have a greater impact. We help organisations that do good, think smarter.

For more information, go to:

About Sport England

Sport England are a public body responsible for distributing National Lottery funding that aims to transform lives and communities through sport and physical activity, particularly where the inequalities in society are starker. For more information, go to:

About The Life Chances Fund

The Life Chances Fund, launched by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in 2016, and administered by The National Lottery Community Fund, aims to help those people in society who face the most significant barriers to leading happy and productive lives in England.