Sports Minister Tracey Crouch was in Leeds this week to visit an urban bike park which is being supported by the UK’s first ‘sport for social impact’ investment fund.

The £3million Sporting Capital Fund was created by Sporting Assets, the leading sport for social impact advisor, in partnership with the Access Foundation. It is funded by the Growth Fund, which was set up by the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital to support social investors committed to meeting the funding needs of charities and social enterprises

The Sporting Capital Fund offers loans of between £50,000 and £150,000 to eligible projects in the form of a simple, repayable and unsecured loan, and is aimed at supporting and sustaining healthy and resilient communities with sport and physical activity at their heart.

The Minister was visiting the first beneficiaries of the fund, Cycle Pathway CIC, which operates Leeds Urban Bike Park in Middleton, Leeds, an exciting redevelopment of a local authority-owned golf course into a community hub facility, with a café open to everyone.

After trying out the trails herself, Ms Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “This is an amazing example of everything we are trying to see with the Government’s sports strategy. You’ve got all ages here, men and women, and it’s a great way to get people participating in sport.

“People like Sporting Capital are here to help venues make sure they are sustainable. But it’s not just about the sport – it’s a community asset. That’s something we were trying to achieve with the sports strategy because I believe simply being engaged in sport is good for your physical and mental wellbeing.”

Leeds City Council, Sport England and British Cycling provided initial funding for the venue, and then to secure the investment from Sporting Capital, Cycle Pathway CIC produced a plan which demonstrated how they will run the business successfully and have a wide impact in the local community.

Sporting Capital is expected to support 30 such projects between now and June 2020 and is actively looking for more organisations to support across the country. To find out more visit

The Minister added: “Congratulations to all of the partners involved in this. I know there has been a phenomenal amount of work which has gone into this, and I have every faith that it will have that long-term sustainability.”

Richard Speak, Co-Founder of Sporting Assets, said: “We are delighted to have approved our first investment through the Sporting Capital Fund. Sport can make a real impact in communities, not just in helping people to get physically fit but in terms of mental wellbeing and tackling loneliness, building links across communities and creating local jobs to name but a few of the benefits.

“We are really looking forward to collaborating with community sports groups across the country to help them to grow and develop with our investment.”

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of the Access Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working with Sporting Capital. Through the innovative structure of the Growth Fund and blend of finance from the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital, this new initiative will provide much-needed support to sports-based social enterprises around England who need access to small loans to help them to grow and thrive.”

Julie Harrington, Chief Executive of British Cycling: “Over recent years, British cyclists have won an incredible number of titles and medals on a global stage, truly establishing us as a superpower of the sport. However, it’s always been of paramount importance to us that this success inspires increased participation – more people on bikes means a fitter, healthier and greener nation.

“Investment into facilities such as Middleton Park is part of our commitment to providing opportunities for everyone to cycle, regardless of age, experience or ability. Sporting Capital shares our belief in the power of sport in our society, and I’m delighted that this facility will also be benefitting from their investment.”

To find out more visit or follow @SportingCapFund on Twitter.

Notes to Editors:

About Sporting Assets: Sporting Assets is the leading sport for social impact advisor in England. It is a for-profit social enterprise which aims to help community sport organisations become more sustainable by generating new revenue, helping them to become ready for investment and developing their capability and capacity to take on, and develop, community facilities.  And works with sector bodies to support them to understand and access social investment. Visit or contact 0203 637 2924. Follow @sportingassets on Twitter.

About Access: Access – The Foundation for Social Investment exists to bridge the gap between charities and social enterprises, and social investors. Access does this through two main programmes: the Growth Fund which blends grant from Big Lottery Fund and loan from Big Society Capital and is focused on enabling the provision of the simple and affordable investment products that charities and social enterprises tell us they need; and the capacity building programme, which provides charities and social enterprises with the support they need to get ready to take on investment.  Visit or follow @si_access on Twitter.

About Big Lottery Fund: Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people. Visit or follow @biglotteryfund on Twitter.

About Big Society Capital: Big Society Capital is a financial institution with a social mission, set up to build the social investment market in the UK, so that charities and social enterprises can access appropriate repayable finance to enable them to grow, become more sustainable and increase their impact on society. It is doing this by building a diverse social investment market: encouraging investors to lend or invest money to achieve a social as well as a financial return. Since it was set up as an independent organisation in 2012, Big Society Capital has invested over £270million in specialist organisations who lend to charities and social enterprises. Visit or follow @bigsocietycap on Twitter.

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