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How we work

smiling young person in a wheelchair

How we work

We work by bringing people together – to learn something new, do something different, or experience something unique. And taking part makes people happier. It’s a simple equation – and a very satisfying one. All the projects and events we fund leave behind a social legacy – increased wellbeing at an individual level, as well as happier and more connected communities. It turns out happiness is something you can buy.



The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the athletes and volunteers who took part in them, as well as for the millions of people nationally, and billions globally, who watched them.

The transformation of the UK's capital city was not limited to the physical infrastructure that emerged in east London's Olympic Park - rather, it was felt across London in the shared sense of pride and positivity that defined the period of the Games. 

It is this spirit that drove forward the idea for Spirit of 2012, funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund. 


2013 image

Spirit of 2012 is established with £47 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund. Our mission is to keep the incredible spirit of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games alive by funding events that foster community cohesion, wellbeing and inclusion.

Our funding will help people develop friendships and supportive connections that endure, leaving them more likely to remain physically and mentally active and healthy. So even after our money has been spent, our legacy continues.

Building on the success of the London Games, we will help challenge perceptions of disability and impairment – such as through our support of the first ever National Paralympic Day in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.


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We appoint 12 members to our first Youth Advisory Panel

We invest in our first major events programme at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014, funding Volunteer Scotland, Glasgow UNESCO City of Music and Streetgames, and opening up the Games experience to thousands from all over the UK.

We launch our three-year Fourteen programme, giving people in local communities across the UK the resources to develop social cohesion and wellbeing through sport, arts and volunteering.


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Spirit of Rugby is launched, which seeks to empower 16-24-year-olds by introducing them to rugby, its values and its potential to build socially active communities. Spirit of Rugby is timed to maximise the buzz around the 2015 Rugby World Cup and the introduction of Rugby 7s as an Olympic sport at Rio 2016.

We partner with Unlimited, which showcases the work of disabled artists, to found the Unlimited Impact project which will support 50 young disabled artists in establishing their careers.


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Our Get Set Road to Rio project connects thousands of schoolchildren across the UK to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

We grant our biggest-ever award of £4.5 million to Get Out Get Active, a project that seeks to increase rates of physical activity among the least active across the UK.

As a legacy partner of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, we announce a new £1.3million partnership with the Scottish Government to continue to get people active and, as a result, develop our Thrive toolkit – an online resource to support people in making their own communities more active.


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An early supporter of Hull’s bid to be the UK’s City of Culture 2017, our funding helps Hull 2017 deliver a year-long cultural programme that will leave a lasting social legacy for local people.

We commit to fund and administer fourteen Sporting Equality Funding projects in Scotland to encourage more girls and women into sport, and award our Spirit of Women grant to the Southbank Centre to extend its Women of the World (WOW) festival programme to five new locations.

We also partner with the #iwill fund to create a £2 million partnership that will enable girls and young women to change their communities through social action.


We partner with Youth Sport Trust and Sporting Equals to develop the Breaking Boundaries: Connecting Communities through Cricket programme, which will use cricket to bring people from different communities together, inspired by the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019.

In celebration of 2018’s centenary of women’s suffrage in the UK, we will stage a centenary exhibition which will focus on the young people who were at the heart of the suffrage movement for change, and will inspire and excite the next generation of social activists.