ESSEX has been awarded a grant of £10.68million grant from Sport England in a bid to get more people active across the county.

The National Lottery cash is part of a three-year plan which aims to tackle the issues preventing nearly 400,000 people in Essex from enjoying the health benefits of an active lifestyle.

Research suggests one in four Essex residents are inactive and carry out less than 30 minutes of physical exercise each week, while people on low incomes are twice as likely to lead sedentary lifestyles.

The successful bid was made by the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (Essex LDP), which is led by the Essex Health and Wellbeing Board, Active Essex, and more than 20 partners including public, community, and voluntary sector organisations.

Basildon has been chosen as one of the initial areas of focus for the pilot as it is an area where there are high levels of inactivity and associated health problems.

Andy Barnes, chairman of the communities committee at Basildon Council, said: “We are working closely with our local communities and partners to bring about change for our residents.

“Being part of Essex Local Delivery Pilot is helping us tackle the inequalities which prevent some of our most vulnerable residents from accessing the social, physical, and mental health benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Anna Pettican, senior occupational therapist and projects manager at Sport for Confidence – an organisation which has brought health and sport sectors together to tackle inequalities – added: “Working in new ways and overcoming barriers and challenges that restrict participation in sport and physical activity can be exhausting, but the outcomes can be life changing for our participants.

“We’re delighted to be a part of the Local Delivery Pilot.

“It provides an opportunity to broaden and evaluate our work and we are looking forward to collaborating with other local organisations.”

The organisation was widely praised last year during a visit from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Previous approaches to tackling inactivity have had mixed results and have not been sustainable, so the Essex plan will hope to do things a little differently.

Bosses hope to recruit people who are enthusiastic about creating new activities in their areas, such as coastal path walks and new walking and cycling routes.

There will be voluntary and paid roles available.

Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, said: “Sport and physical activity have the power to transform lives, but we need to find ways that make the choice to get active more practical and appealing in everyday life. We know that across Essex there are many barriers to getting active – for example you are less likely to be active if you are less affluent, a woman or disabled.”