HUNDREDS of people with mental health problems are to benefit from a £260,000 funding boost for county sport.

Sport England has given the cash to Oxfordshire Sports Partnership for a project called Active Body, Healthy Mind.

It is hoped it will help more than 1,200 county people with mental health take up a range of sports.

The three-year project will provide group activities where people with mental health issues already meet, such as at charity Restore in Manzil Way, Oxford.

From the autumn it will also provide one-on-one support through volunteers who will accompany those taking part in sport to assist them.

Partnership managing director Chris Freeman said: “Active Body, Healthy Mind is an example of the positive benefits we can bring to Oxfordshire with partnership working.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to engage individuals with mental ill health in sport, providing a wide range of sporting opportunities to increase participation in disability sport and make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

Sports development officer Tristan Hale said: “People with mental health issues are much less likely than the wider population to take part in sport and physical activity.

“The benefits of sport to health are absolutely proven so we are trying to provide the appropriate sport that people need to take up a more active lifestyle.”

One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem and at any one time the figure is one in six people, the equivalent of 88,500 in Oxfordshire.

Mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind will provide a sports co-ordinator to manage the project. Head of community services David Agnew said: “We’re delighted to be able to be part of this.

“Our sports co-ordinator will be working with local communities to help people access new ways to exercise. With one in four people in Oxfordshire experiencing mental health problems, making it easier for everyone to boost their physical and mental health is a great way to help people get the support they need.”

The initiative is one of 44 English sports partnerships set to share a total of £8.06m.