IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT SECTOR HAVING ‘PROFOUND EFFECT’ – COALITION

The Sport for Development Coalition (SFDC) has warned that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sector is having “a profound effect” on some of the “most vulnerable members of our society”.

The SFDC, a growing Movement of more than 100 charities, networks and governing bodies who believe in the power of sport to generate positive social outcomes, has today published its response to the DCMS Committee inquiry on the impact of the pandemic.

In the report ‘Impact of Covid-19 on the Sport for Development sector’, the SFDC reveals that the pandemic has had “a significant impact” on the sector from reduced funding and financial security, to a forced reduction and adaptation in delivery, and increased challenges in engaging participants.

This has subsequently had a knock-on effect for the thousands of people in need that the sector serves. The report adds: “Sport for Development organisations are well placed to support the most vulnerable members of our society, having built up significant trust over their years of delivery. The current threat to the Sport for Development sector is having a profound effect on those vulnerable people.”

The reports highlights a number of areas including:

  • the lack of structure and support in young people’s lives. Football Beyond Borders reports that participants in its programme “are struggling with a lack of structure and routine – with some boys waking up at 5pm after playing PS4 until 8am”.
  • the increased sense of isolation that many young people have experienced, despite the best efforts of charities. One 17-year-old from Street League in Scotland comments: “We do face chats everyday but it’s not the same as being there.”
  • Carney’s Community reports that young people “see our staff and centre as a second home”, while another charity School of Hard Knocks says “they need consistency, to lose that nurturing and mentoring element is a huge blow”.
  • examining the impact on under-represented groups being served by organisations in the sector, the SFDC reports the pandemic as helping to “reinforce outdated gender roles”, highlights “the disparities in our society between different ethnicities” and says it has “crippled” many families living in poverty.
  • one organisation within the StreetGames network reports “a lot of our families lack even basic resources like a football to play with”, while Empire Fighting Chance states: “Those in toxic backgrounds will have issues exacerbated over next few months, mental wellbeing will worsen.”

The report also looks at the impact of the pandemic on delivery organisations themselves. StreetGames estimates a third to a quarter of the ‘Locally Trusted Organisations’ in its network stopped operations and furloughed all staff, while Sported reported that – as the full effect of lockdown kicked in – one in four community groups were not sure if they would exist in six months’ time.

SFDC Chair Andy Reed said: “The Coalition seeks to bring together and unite all of those organisations who are using sport and physical activity to improve society, and this report demonstrates the remarkable reach of the Sport for Development sector into people’s lives and communities across the UK.

“Whilst we hope it proves useful to the DCMS Committee inquiry at this crucial time, we also want this to be a wake-up call to what could be lost if the sector isn’t supported soon. These organisations work with some of the most deprived communities and they have been hit hardest. There is a real need to get these back and on a sound financial footing as soon as possible.”

The DCMS Committee has been holding evidence sessions “to hear directly from stakeholders, arms-length bodies and Government about what is being done and what further support is needed”. Read more about it here.

  • The Sport for Development Coalition is a growing Movement of charities, governing bodies, funders, networks and delivery organisations who all believe in the power of sport and physical activity to act as effective interventions tools for generating positive social outcomes.
  • For more information, visit www.sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org or follow @SFDCoalition on Twitter.
  • For media enquiries and interview opportunities, contact simonlansley@connectsport.co.uk.

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