Core Arts’ trailblazing work in the Homerton and the wider Hackney community has been recognised by being shortlisted for a London Sport Award.

The London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, is the biggest celebration of grassroots physical activity and sport in the city. They recognise, celebrate, and shine a light on the unsung community whose outstanding work helps Londoners of all ages and backgrounds to be physically active.

The Core Arts programme, led by Gareth Jones, has been nominated for The Community Impact Award, in association with GameDay.

Core Arts work with people who suffer from mental health issues, encouraging them to enjoy physical activity and socialise with others.

The programme has been recognised for its efforts during the pandemic where it transitioned to online classes for six days a week, ensuring that members were able to stay active, socialise and receive support.

And Jones, 37, said: “Our role in the community is really important. We are a place where people come to get support but to get active as well and to be around other people on a daily basis.

“The past 18 months was a very difficult period for everybody. There was a lot of learning going on across the board on how we could stay in touch with members and keep our interactions going as well.

“Many people didn’t realise they would be able to keep engaged throughout all the different lockdown periods we had. Helping them understand how to use the technology, in some cases downloading a particular app on their phone, meant that they were connected.

“It was really important that we were able to keep connected to our members. It’s hard to say what the impact would have been if we hadn’t provided the services we had, but I think it’s safe to say our members would have found it really difficult.

“The periods of isolation that many of us all faced during the lockdown periods were really tough, but making sure that we were there was the first step forward.

“It’s incredible to be recognised. We’re incredibly proud of how we’ve been able to come together and continue to support our members and the wider community.”

London Sport supports grassroots and community physical activity and sport and uses the London Sport Awards to share inspirational stories city-wide to encourage more people to get active.

Gary Wood is one of those who has benefitted from the programmes run by Core Arts, and now volunteers to help and support others.

Having suffered from depression for 30 years, Wood credits the programme for boosting his confidence.

The 50-year-old, who will discover if Core Arts is a winner at an eagerly-anticipated awards ceremony at the historic Guildhall on December 6, said: “Physical exercise also connects to mental health, that’s how it’s helped me. I came here for the first time in 2010 and since then I’ve been a regular. I’ve really enjoyed it and have been volunteering since 2015.

“When I first came here, I thought I’d never be able to volunteer, not having as much confidence, but now I’ve been getting much better.

“I get a bit of focus from it. It’s something that makes me feel better so I feel able to do it. It gives me responsibilities and gets my brain working better.”

The London Sport Awards, in association with the City of London Corporation, shines a spotlight on the unsung community heroes helping Londoners of all backgrounds to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and sport. Find out more about the Awards and how London Sport aims to make London the most physically active city in the world at #MakeYourMark