Sport in Mind is a charity based in Reading, Berkshire that works to provide sports and physical activity opportunities for people with mental health problems. Since it’s inception 12 years ago, the charity has worked with over 15,000 people, initially in Berkshire but now expanded to counties across the south of England.

In 2020 as the pandemic struck, Sport in Mind was unable to continue to provide the usual activities for participants in face to face settings but continued to engage with regular attendees and offered some online opportunities. As soon as it was safe to operate again, the usual activities resumed and the charity was keen to hear from their participants how the ceasing of activities due to Covid-19 had impacted on them.

A short survey was circulated in early 2021, and although a small sample, there was some useful information gained which has been helpful for understanding the impact of the pandemic on Sport in Mind’s participants’ mental health and activity levels. This insight has helped influence the charity’s future strategy. The summary below identifies the key themes from the results and offers some commentary on this:


A short survey was developed in order to elicit views of regular attendees at Sport in Mind’s sport and physical activity sessions. As well as some demographic information the survey asked about people’s mental health, physical activity levels and the impact of the closure of Sport in Mind's sessions due to the pandemic. 48 respondents completed the survey.


The demographic details provided by respondents indicated that of the 48:

15 lived in Bracknell
11 in Reading
8 in West Berkshire
4 in Oxfordshire
4 in Windsor & Maidenhead
2 in Wokingham
2 in Hampshire
1 in Slough
1 in Buckinghamshire.

3 were aged 18-24
14 were aged 25-34
6 were aged 35-44
11 were aged 45-54
12 were aged 55-64
1 was aged 65-74
1 was over 75.

In order to ascertain the baseline activity levels of respondents, the first question asked “on how many days in the last week have you been active?”. The results showed that of the 48:

7 stated they engaged in 7+ episodes of physical activity
11 stated 5-6 episodes
7 stated 3-4 episodes
16 stated 1-2 episodes
7 indicated 0 episodes.

Respondents were also asked if they had participated in the Sport in Mind activities before the pandemic and the results showed that

17 participated 2 or more times per week
25 participated once a week
2 participated once a month
4 had never participated.

Of the responses to the question “does sport/physical activity have a positive impact on your mental health?” 44 out of 48 replied yes and only 4 said no. A subsequent question asked for views on whether the Sport in Mind sessions helped with their mental health and 32 said they had a very positive impact, 10 said a small positive impact, 1 said no impact and 1 said a negative impact.

The follow up question on the way in which Sport in Mind sessions helped with mental health asked respondents to tick as many statements as applied and the following results were obtained:

I felt less anxious          14 respondents
I felt less depressed  18 respondents
I felt less isolated 16 respondents
I felt more able to deal with everyday life    10 respondents
My physical health improved    21 respondents

When asked about the impact on their mental health of the Sport in Mind sessions stopping due to the pandemic the following results were reported:

7 reported a significant deterioration in mental health
22 reported some deterioration in mental health
11 reported no change
2 reported some improvement in mental health
1 reported significant improvement in mental health

When asked about the impact on their activity levels of the Sport in Mind sessions stopping due to the pandemic the following results were reported:

15 reported significant deterioration in activity levels
15 reported some deterioration in activity levels
11 reported no change
1 reported some improvement in activity levels
2 reported significant improvement in activity levels

During the lockdown period of the pandemic Sport in Mind offered some online challenges to try to retain contact with participants while sessions were unable to take place. The answers to a question about participation in these online activities provided the following responses:

11 participated in the online challenges

24 did not participate in the online challenges

9 were not aware of the online challenges

Towards the end of the survey there was a question asking for views on future activities they would like Sport in Mind to provide. The responses were:

29 did not want any change to the usual Sport in mind sessions

11 wished to have more online opportunities


The results of this small survey provided useful information for the charity on the satisfaction of participants with Sport in Mind’s activities and the impact of stopping the sessions due to the pandemic. Overall there appear to be high levels of satisfaction with the programme of sport and physical activity provided by Sport in Mind and there is a positive impact for the vast majority of participants on their mental health and activity levels. The impact of stopping the sessions due to the pandemic had a negative effect on both participants’ mental health and activity levels for the majority of people.

The offer of online opportunities, although not taken up by many people in this sample, appears to have generated interest in this type of offer for the future and will be considered as an addition to the face to face sessions in the future. It is encouraging that the majority of respondents did not wish to see any change to the current programme of activities but some useful suggestions were made regarding the programme which will be considered alongside the regular feedback from participants at the sessions in order to evolve as required to meet the needs and wishes of participants.


Despite this being a short survey of a small sample of Sport in Mind participants it has generated useful data for the charity and will be used to shape future developments alongside other information on the satisfaction with and effectiveness of the programme of activities. The Covid-19 pandemic was an unusual, unanticipated event which caused a major change to the programme of activities provided by Sport in Mind but it has prompted a review of the service which has benefits for the ongoing strategy and objectives of the charity and has enabled an additional means of feedback to be used for the future development of activities.