Blog post -
Red January's timely reminder of its value to people and the sector
In this blog, our Tech for Participation lead, Alex Zurita, explains the impact of RED January and the opportunities it offers for 2021.
The scale of mental health problems in the England are widely known, but they bear some reflecting: 1 in 4 of us in England will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year, while 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week.
When RED January made it through to our third Sport Tech Hub cohort, we were given the opportunity to support a great founder, and an amazing initiative; one leveraging the value of physical activity and sport against the growing risks of poor mental health.
Since the end of March 2020 we have continued to support RED January, like other alumni of our innovation programme, to help maximise opportunities to connect to a physical activity and sport sector which remains on an upward leaning curve around the benefits of connecting with technology and digital initiatives. Maintaining support has a human element too; the Founders we support can be just as much at risk of the burdens of isolation and disconnect as any of us at times like these, and this is one of the areas where business and social purpose find common ground.
The Current Climate and a Timely Reminder of RED January’s Purpose
Having just entered a second period of national restrictions the current climate could once again heighten risks around loss of activity patterns, isolation and mental wellbeing.
The timely opening of registrations for RED January 2021 is a reminder that despite the acute challenges of the current circumstances, an incredible initiative remains available to be embraced, supported and adopted by organisations right across the sport sector for the benefit of people in all communities.
The initiative provides a compelling, proven and inclusive reason for people to start, rekindle or continue being active, while raising money for mental health charities.
Why RED January
RED January is founded on research that shows physical activity can have a positive impact on mental wellbeing and reduce symptoms of mental illness such as depression and anxiety.
- 150,000 people have participated in the movement
- £2.7million+ raised for mental health charities
Perhaps just as important is where this movement comes from and why; the initiative founded by Hannah Beecham was inspired by the powerful transformative effect that physical activity had on her mum’s mental health.
Organisations partnering with RED January can be confident that the movement has full empathy with its beneficiaries. Hannah has turned what can be for many a very negative experience into a groundbreaking, positive community movement, making RED’s “why?” powerful, truthful and unique.
For 2021, RED January has partnered with Sport in Mind as its official charity partner. An organisation that since 2011 has supported the recovery of over 12,500 people through the use of sport and activity.
Let’s Turn January 2021 from Blue to RED!
As we have found through our own work with RED January, collaborations with the movement can be simple and extremely effective.
At a time where many of us will once again rely on digital and virtual solutions to keep connected and active, signing up to RED January 2021 and using physical activity as a positive vehicle in what is a characteristically a tough month can be a simple act of empowerment.
We Have Seen It First-hand
Our ability to have supported the ‘acceleration’ of RED January while on our third innovation programme, has meant that we have been close to its impact and use.
Recent research work by The University of Oxford showed the following London-centric outcomes were achieved by RED in 2020:
- •Increased RED participation in London by 5.4% compared to the previous year
- •London moved from the city with the 8th most participants to the 5th
- •A total of 150,000 people participated in the movement
All boosted by collaborations with organisations including London Youth, Transport for London, CSSC Sport and Leisure, Westminster University and the London SportsTech Network.
Within the current climate we are living, working and operating within, doing something well, even if it seems small, can have an enormous impact.
And like the encouragement around mental health, having a conversation with RED January could be a simple and inspiring first step.