TWITTER TAKEOVER: HOW CAN SPORT CONTRIBUTE MORE TO COHESION AND INTEGRATION?

The Sport for Development Coalition will welcome Jo Broadwood, Chief Executive of Belong – The Cohesion and Integration Network, for its next Twitter takeover on Tuesday 1st December.

The hour-long question-and-answer session will take place live on Twitter from 8pm, and anyone can join the conversation by following and using the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition.

Belong launched its guidance ‘The Power of Sport – guidance for strengthening cohesion and integration through sport’ in August.

Jo will respond to five questions during the hour, which are shown below.

Sport for Development organisations, and individuals working or volunteering in the sector, are also encouraged to respond to the questions and answers, and provide their own insight. We will share the best responses.

When responding to the questions, be sure to add the relevant prefix to your answer, e.g. A1 for Q1, A3 for Q3, so everyone following the hashtag can see your answer. Feel free to add images, links and videos to demonstrate your point.

To join the conversation, follow @SFDCoalition on Twitter and use the hashtag #SportForDevelopmentCoalition.

CHAIR WELCOMES RETURN OF OUTDOOR ACTIVITY AND EMPHASISES IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING COMMUNITY SPORT


The Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition has welcomed the imminent return of outdoor sport, and underscored the important role of grassroots clubs and groups that use sport and physical activity for a social purpose.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has revealed that recreational sport can resume when the current lockdown ends in England on December 2nd. Gyms will also be allowed to re-open.

However the Coalition’s Chair, Andy Reed, now wants a greater focus to be given to perilous state of the community sport sector, with as many as one in four grassroots clubs and groups facing closure because of the pandemic.

RESPONSIBLE

“We are pleased to hear that the ban on grassroots sport will be lifted when the lockdown ends,” he said.

“The 165 charities, governing bodies and grassroots sport networks that make up the Coalition are fully committed to sport being delivered in a safe and responsible way, in line with Government guidelines on restricting the spread of Covid-19, and sustaining the critical service they deliver in communities.

“We are particularly grateful that this issue has been raised in the media. This has played a crucial role in maintaining a spotlight on the enormous social value of sport in our communities.”

COMMUNITIES

He added: “As we look towards 2021, we now implore the Government to maintain that steady focus on the wider outcomes of sport and physical activity, and provide further ring-fenced funding for community sport projects that strengthen our communities and support individuals in need.

“We look forward to hearing how the recently-announced £300million support for spectator sports will help to sustain the community programmes delivered by these sports. But we must remain mindful this package does not extend support for the vast and fragile network of grassroots clubs, groups and charities embedded within communities across the UK. Yet it is these organisations that are delivering programmes and projects which extend far beyond sport and physical activity, from supporting mental wellbeing to building social cohesion, and directly tackling growing social issues such as unemployment and youth crime.

“Our research shows that as many as one in four could close down because of the pandemic, and without them, many vulnerable young people will have nowhere to go. The long-term cost to society – in terms of mental health issues and crime alone – will be incalculable. It is plainly a false economy to let them disappear, and we urge the Government to provide further ring-fenced funding for community sport.”

FINAL ONLINE CONSULTATION LAUNCHED AS SPORT ENGLAND PREPARES TO PUBLISH STRATEGY

Final consultation launched at sportengland.org

Sport England has launched a final consultation as it prepares to publish a new 10-year strategy in January 2021.

A new online platform has gone live this week and will remain open for the next month, with Coalition supporters being encouraged to sign up and have their say.

The platform will host a series of engagement opportunities including surveys, workshops and webinars to take a deeper look at the major themes of the strategy.

More than 60 organisations attended our recent consultation event with Sport England, which is one of three funders and supporters of the Coalition alongside Comic Relief and Laureus Sport for Good.

DECADE

After almost 18 months of research and consultation, Sport England’s new 10-year strategy will set out its mission and goals for the next decade.

Looking back over an “unprecedented year” which has seen the Covid-19 pandemic blight the sport and physical activity sector, Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said: “Even before the pandemic, we were acutely aware that we needed a new way of doing things.

“We believe sport and physical activity has a significant role to play in improving the physical and mental health of the nation, supporting the economy and reconnecting communities.”

OPPORTUNITIES

The language of the strategy is still being finalised, but it will focus on five major themes, which are:

  1. Recover and reinvent: recovering from the biggest shock to the status quo in a lifetime and reinventing as a vibrant and sustainable network of organisations providing sport and physical activity opportunities that meet the needs of different people.
  2. An active life for a healthy life: strengthening the connection between sport and physical activity and health and wellbeing, to enable more people to live an active life so they can live and age well.
  3. Positive experiences for children and young people: unrelenting focus on positive experiences as the foundations for an active life.
  4. Strengthening communities: focusing on sport and physical activity’s ability to create greater community development and social integration.
  5. Active environments: creating the places and spaces that make it easier for people to be active.

Read more at sportengland.org. If you have any questions about the consultation, contact strategy2021@sportengland.org.

MADE BY SPORT LAUNCHES COMPETITION TO RAISE AWARENESS OF ‘CLUBS IN CRISIS’

Made by Sport has launched the ‘Clubs In Crisis’ competition which is asking sports organisations across the UK to share stories about issues that the pandemic has created in their communities and the impact it has had on the club’s ability to continue supporting young people.

Three community-based clubs will win £5,000 each to help them cover the costs of lockdown and to help ensure they can open their doors again.

Stories can simply be uploaded online and tagged #ClubsinCrisis with the aim of creating a large body of compelling evidence via local stories that grassroots sports clubs deserve more financial support.

SUPPORT

Made By Sport, an official charity partner of the Sport for Development Coalition, was founded in the belief that some of the toughest issues facing communities can be tackled through sport. That’s why it campaigns and fundraises to support clubs and groups that change lives through sport.

These clubs are often people’s easiest way to access sport and they have an immensely positive impact not just on the lives of those that attend but also on the communities in which they exist.

Recent research from Sheffield Hallam University stated that for every £1 invested in community sport and physical activity in England (financial and non-financial), £3.89 worth of social impact was created for individuals and society, in terms of improved mental wellbeing, physical health and safer communities, for example.

However, the pandemic means that many of these clubs are struggling to survive. Research by Newton for Made By Sport has revealed that over 40% of these clubs were either in deficit or just breaking even before the pandemic, with many operating on less than £10,000 per annum, with 50% led by volunteers. The impact of Covid-19 and the lockdowns means an estimated 25% of community clubs may not be able to open their doors again.

The social impacts of this problem are exacerbated by the fact that over half of the clubs most at risk are in the most deprived areas of the UK. These are areas where they are needed most and over two million young people will be impacted, in what has already been a very difficult year for these communities.

Justin King, Chairman of Made by Sport, said: “The impact of closing sports centres and clubs up and down the country must not be underestimated.

CRUCIAL

“Whether it is the long-term prospects of the clubs themselves or the physical and mental decline of those that can no longer play the sport they love, they play a crucial role up and down the country.

“We tend not to think about the combined value of these clubs but the sheer scale of them shows how valuable they are: they are in every single town and village across the UK. We need them. They deliver far more than just ‘sport’.”

The #ClubsInCrisis competition will see £15,000 split equally between three clubs. Also on offer will be advice on how to secure more funding and Made By Sport will send its content team to capture each club’s story.

COMPETITION

Justin added: “We hope this competition shines a light both on the brilliant clubs up and down the UK that mean so much to so many but also the struggles they are currently facing and why they need further support.”

To enter, members and representatives of sports clubs up and down the country are asked to submit a two-minute video on social media explaining why their club needs the support and why it is so valuable to the local community, using the hashtag #ClubsInCrisis.

The competition will close on 10th December 2020. Read more here.

SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND THE SECOND LOCKDOWN: EXTERNAL SUPPORT OR INTERNAL COLLABORATION?

In the first of a regular series of articles from thought-leaders and stakeholders across the Movement, Ollie Dudfield – the Executive Director of the Sport for Development Coalition – considers the balance required in these challenging times between the sector seeking external help, and it coming together to help itself through collaboration.

The steep upward trajectory of Coronavirus cases over the past weeks made the recently announced national restrictions in England inevitable. Even so the limitations placed on community sport as part of this second lockdown will only intensify the challenges faced across a sector already reeling from the effects of the pandemic. Decisive action is therefore required to support the sector. But from who?

The Sport for Development Coalition’s July report on the Impact of Covid-19 on the Sport for Development Sector painted an early picture of the effects of the pandemic on funding, delivery models and the ongoing engagement of programme participants. Although it received less attention, the report also noted that the pandemic had been a trigger for improved collaboration within the sector and enhanced flexibility from many of our partners and funders.  In the face of this new lockdown these findings are particularly instructive.

SUSTAINED

The Coalition responded to the recent lockdown announcement by warning of the costs to society ‘down the line’ if community sport and sport for development organisations are not sustained through this period.  To do so the sector will require further ring-fenced Government support, building on the £220million made available by Sport England in response to the pandemic and £100million to support local leisure centres. 

But collaboration, collective action and co-creation within the sector will also be critical. The recent inputs of our Coalition into the Sport England strategy development process underscored the value of such collaboration across the breadth of the sector. A key theme was the potential (and need) for further emphasis and strategic investment in the broader outcomes the sector can deliver. There was strong consensus that more could be done to position sport-focused investment as a catalyst for wider investment in the impact the sector can deliver.

Inactivity levels rose by 7.4% over the first three months of the pandemic, this despite evidence of the preventative benefits of being active may even help directly combat the effects of COVID-19. But unemployment is also rising, so too are domestic violence levels and reports of social isolation. There is an impending youth job crisis and the number of people facing severe financial hardship is growing.

INVESTMENT

In this context, a balance must be struck between the support the wider community sport and physical activity sector can expect for ‘preserving the status quo’, versus investment in the contributions the sector can make to tackling these and other issues. Enhanced collaboration, co-creation and collective action is therefore essential at this juncture. This is the route to deliver contributions at scale, that deliver multiple returns including, but extending beyond, increased activity levels.

There are a number of pre and post Covid-19 examples of varying size and scale that can be drawn on, for example:

  • The School Sport Sector Summit, overseen by Youth Sport Trust, that co-ordinates the input and collective voice of 45 organisations in support of the effective delivery of the School Sport & Activity Action Plan in the context of the Government’s £320million per year PE and Sport Premium, and recent announcement to provide £29million per year by 2023-24 to support primary school PE teaching and help schools make best use of their sports facilities.
  • The unique collaboration between the Belong Network, Good Faith Partnership, Spirit of 2012 and leaders in our sector including StreetGames, London Sport, EFL Trust, Youth Sport Trust and Sporting Equals on the ‘Power of Sport’ initiative.

Sport for development approaches will need to be at the vanguard of these type of responses from the wider community sport and physical sector. Balancing our ‘external ask’ with stepping up our ‘internal collaboration’ and, in turn, the scale of our contribution to the wider societal response must define our decisive action during the next phase of the pandemic. This approach will be the focus for the Coalition back-end team over the next months.


SPOTLIGHT ON THE SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT SECTOR: READY STEADY ACTIVE (WEST YORKSHIRE)

Rashida Salloo runs Ready Steady Active, a small, community-based organisation in West Yorkshire which provides sports and physical activity opportunities for women and girls with the aim of improving participation and health amongst those of South Asian and Muslim background. Writing before the second lockdown was announced, she talks about the challenges that her organisation is facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just like at many organisations and businesses, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Ready Steady Active and our ability to operate and continue making a difference in the communities we serve.

We are a small organisation based in Kirklees, West Yorkshire providing community-based sports, health and physical activity opportunities for women and girls with a focus on increasing participation and health amongst those of South Asian and Muslim background. On a normal week we work with more than 200 people of all ages attending our exercise, health and multi-sport sessions including sports such as football, basketball and rounders as well as players competing in our community Rounders league, all of which has been put on hold since March.

We’ve had to get used to working with limited resources and capacity but take pride in our ability to make a real difference against these challenges by being agile, focused and innovative which has allowed us to help change the lives of many. However the current difficulties we face due to Covid are proving too great for us to overcome. We have seen nearly all of our indoor venues – which includes school and community halls – close or stop taking bookings. These are the spaces which work for our community; familiar, rooted within the community and offering a degree of privacy at a low cost. With the ever-changing local and national restrictions, unclear guidance and rules which limit numbers, along with wide anxiety amongst our participants and increased costs to secure flexible alternative venues, we’re finding our ability to deliver just not viable.

Feedback from our participants show 71% have seen a decline in their physical activity levels and 39% have experienced a decline in mental health this year, and with many of our participants from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds they are worried and concerned about the risks to themselves and their families. We have many participants who are carers and/or live with older family members which make our decisions even more difficult in case infection spreads to those who are the most vulnerable in our community.

Our work relies on consistent, reliable, safe and accessible provision to help change behaviour and perceptions amongst inactive communities to effect long-term change in the lifestyles and self-confidence of our participants. We have also made a real difference by bringing people from different backgrounds together to strengthen relationships in the community, and we worry greatly that we are getting close to losing all this progress we have made.

As we all know Covid-19 has disproportionality affected these communities and highlighted the health inequalities which exist in society; we are gravely concerned that at a time when our role is most needed and critical for the future health of our community, we will not be able to help those who need us most.

Please note: All images created before lockdown. Article originally published by connectsport.co.uk.

SECOND LOCKDOWN: SFDC CHAIR CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND WARNS OF ‘COST TO SOCIETY DOWN THE LINE’

The Coalition brings together local providers and national networks such as StreetGames, (pictured) Sported, Activity Alliance and Active Partnerships.

The Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition has warned of the “huge cost to society further down the line” if the Government does not step in and formally support the community sport sector following the announcement of a second national lockdown for England.

The Coalition is a growing group of 160-plus organisations – including charities, governing bodies and networks – that use sport and physical activity to intentionally generate positive social outcomes.

Alongside 150 other sports organisations, its Chair Andy Reed recently signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a ‘Sports Recovery Fund’ to sustain and support the sport and physical activity sector through the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Coalition is supporting this petition to Parliament.

IMPORTANT

A second period of lockdown was officially announced by the Government this weekend, and will commence on Thursday.

Andy said: “I don’t think any of us under-estimates the gravity of this difficult decision that the Government has had to take. Nonetheless it is imperative that the Prime Minister now commits to formally recognising and supporting the critically important role that community sport clubs and grassroots groups play across the UK.

“This vast network of clubs, charities and locally-trusted organisations – which the Sport for Development Coalition seeks to give a voice to – deliver programmes and projects that extend far beyond sport and physical activity. In communities the length and breadth of the country, they are uniquely positioned to support mental wellbeing, build social cohesion and engage young people excluded from education and employment.

“Furthermore many of them are supporting those under-represented groups and individuals – such as Black, Asian and minority ethnic people, disabled people and lower socio-economic communities – which the recent Active Lives survey from Sport England clearly shows are being most directly affected by the pandemic.

SOCIETY

“Whether run by volunteers or staff, delivered in facilities or open spaces, these programmes need investment and resources to be sustained and deliver key services in their communities. If we do not find a way of supporting them now, we face losing them forever – and that will not end well when you consider the huge cost to society further down the line, in terms of mental health issues, and youth violence and crime, for example.

“This is why the Sport for Development Coalition recently joined 150 other sports organisations in signing a letter to the Prime Minister to take direct action, including through a Sport Recovery Fund, to support and sustain the important service and contribution of sport for development and community sport.

“With the right level of support, we can help our communities get through this time of national crisis.”

To find out more about the Sport for Development Coalition, visit www.sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org.

Ends

For editors

LEARNING FROM BLACK HISTORY MONTH: COALITION COMMITS TO COLLECTIVE ACTION AND BOARD REFORM

The Sport for Development Coalition has marked the close of Black History Month 2020 by announcing a new long-term commitment to collective action around diversity, and to the reform of its Board governance.

The month has seen a wide range of actors and supporters across sport and physical activity publish important research, for example Sported on racism in grassroots sport and the Sport & Recreation Alliance on the lack of representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic individuals across the sector. Youth Sport Trust, Chance to Shine and the Premier League have created resources for schools to increase inclusion and reduce discrimination.

Chair of the Sport for Development Coalition’s Board, Andy Reed, revealed that – following the award of new funding for the SFDC – processes are now in place with the aim of it becoming more representative and reflective of the sector it serves, and indeed of society.

Picture courtesy of Greenhouse Sports

“We are very grateful to everybody who has helped the Coalition get to this point in its evolution, but we must also acknowledge that we have to work harder – much harder, in fact, on diversity and inclusion across the sector including at Board and Executive level,” he said.

“This has been a focus for me during my first year as Chair, and I am delighted to say that we are now in the process of moving on governance, with the full backing of the current Board, and with a series of changes to be implemented over the next months.

“The organisers of Black History Month have urged every single one of us to ‘dig deeper, look closer and think bigger’, and we want to use this seminal moment, following in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, to ensure an unstinting focus on becoming more representative and reflective of modern society.”

PRIORITY

The Coalition’s announcement follows research conducted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance which shows there is clear lack of representation of Black individuals across the sport and recreation sector, even though tackling inequality remains a key priority for many organisations.

Across organisations which responded to the Alliance survey, just 1% of paid coaches and 2% of employees are Black. Representation improves for Board members (10%) and athletes or participants (11%), but these figures still fall way short of the 2011 Census which shows that 20% of people in England are from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. This is expected to increase to 40%, or two in five people, by in the middle of the century, demonstrating that the sector needs to quickly get its house in order.

Underscoring this issue, research published by Sported this month revealed that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people working or volunteering in community sport can feel “patronised and poorly represented”.

Read Sported research ‘Tackling Racism at the Grassroots’

The charity, which oversees a network of 2600 grassroots and community clubs and groups, carried out the qualitative research this summer in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. Between August and September, it conducted focus groups with 15 organisations in its network, across all four home nations, in order “to understand directly from members their experiences of racism with the community sport sector”.

The research uses direct quotes to highlight the sense of frustration and discrimination which persists, with comments like “Whatever we feed in, the strategy will still be played out through a white lens” and ““I want to see more Black faces in positions of power, who are there to influence and are there for the long term”.

“As an industry, it is evident that much more needs to be done,” said CEO Nicola Walker, who also published a blog on the research. “Sported is committed to improving the opportunities and experiences of our members – as we feel they are best placed to drive the change we want to see.

LEARNING

“We also invite any other organisations to input into the findings of the research, or share them across their own networks.”

In another blog Steve Nelson, Chief Executive of Wesport – the Active Partnership for the West of England, wrote about how he and a group of fellow Chief Executives from the Active Partnership network have come together in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests to stage a series of learning events.

These events have created a safe space to learn and share experiences, and look at what commitments and actions can be made across the national network of 43 Active Partnerships.


Access resources from Youth Sport Trust

This month Youth Sport Trust made a series of resources available to help make PE and school sport more inclusive for Black, Asian and minority ethnic young people. This includes the Trust’s code of governance diversity action plan and links to other useful resources across the sport and physical activity sector. To find out more, visit youthsporttrust.org/bame.

To support schools celebrating Black History Month, the national cricket charity Chance to Shine developed a series of resources to help primary and secondary schoolchildren learn about some of the Black players who have represented England including Jofra Archer, Ebony Rainford-Brent and Roland Butcher. The charity has also produced an activity session that aims to support pupils in developing their cricketing skills whilst consolidating classroom learning about the importance of diversity in cricket and in life. 

To mark the month, the Midlands-based sport for employability charity, Sport 4 Life, used social media to publish a series of powerful quotes from across their organisation and beyond, including the young people it works to support. Perhaps the most impressive came from 23-year-old Nicole, who said: “It is extremely important that now more than ever, we are looking out for one another.

EDUCATE

“We must continue to educate ourselves and those around us, not only on Black history, but also on the ongoing injustice that the Black community face every day. We must come together and celebrate this month and always appreciate those around us.”

Students from London South Bank University’s School of Arts and Creative Industries have been working to produce a series of films for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation. The short films were being released during Black History Month and also to support the Hope Collective, which will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Damilola Taylor on November 27th. Read more about the Collective at hope2020.uk.

Using the hashtag #FitnessHeroes, uk active highlighted the “game-changing contributions that Black people have made in the fitness and sport sector”, ranging from coaches like former England soccer boss Hope Powell CBE and Wales rugby league captain Clive Sullivan MBE to Black-owned sports businesses like the sportswear brand, Y-Fit Wear.

A new Football Leadership Diversity Code was launched with the aim of driving diversity and inclusion across football in England. More than 40 clubs across the Premier League, EFL, Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have signed up to the Code and committed to tackle inequality across senior leadership positions, broader team operations and coaching roles.

The Code focuses on increasing equality of opportunity with hiring targets – rather than quotas – to encourage recruitment from across society. Hiring will be based on merit, to find the best person for the job from diverse talent pipelines and the aim is to move away from recruitment practices focused on personal networks, which is a longstanding challenge across football and has limited the diversity in leadership across the game.

Paul Elliott, chair of the English Football Association’s Inclusion Advisory Board, said: “Positive and tangible action is required to drive change and take the next step. We hope more clubs join us as we move forward.”

During the month, the Premier League also launched its new ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign. As well as encouraging fans to “challenge it, report it, change it” if they witness discrimination, the campaign provides a series of resources for schools to use via its ‘Premier League Primary Stars’ scheme. In the resources, top Black footballers are filmed talking about their life experiences and careers, and schoolchildren are encouraged to design posters illustrating the campaign messages.

To find out more about Black History Month, click this link blackhistorymonth.org.uk. To share what your Sport for Development organisation is doing to ‘dig deeper, look closer and think bigger’ in fighting racism and discrimination email slansley@sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org.

INEQUALITY AND WIDER OUTCOMES COME TO THE FORE IN COALITION CONSULTATION ON SPORT ENGLAND STRATEGY

Submit your input to Sport England’s final online consultation via sportengland.org.

Strong opportunities exist to build on, and enhance the role that sport for development can play in addressing inequalities in sport and physical activity.

This was one of the core themes to emerge from a consultation event conducted by the Sport for Development Coalition into Sport England’s forthcoming new strategy, which is due to be published in January.

More than 60 organisations from across the SFDC network gathered to collectively respond to the Strategy Framework and Shaping Our Future publication, which have been published as Sport England finalises the new strategy.

The four-hour online consultation event also revealed there is a strong commitment from the network to drive and support place-based approaches and linkages  across the sport and physical activity eco-system, and the potential for an enhanced strategic focus on the wider social outcomes that sport for development can deliver to be a catalyst to unlock additional investment in sport and physical activity.

CHARITIES

Attendees came from the SFDC’s network of 160 supporters, who have all signed up to the Coalition’s Charter. They ranged from local clubs such as Tooting & Mitcham Community Sports Club, and Sheffield-based Hallam Barbell Weightlifting Club, to small charities using ‘sport for good’ such as 3Pillars Trust, Boxing Futures and Salaam Peace.

The charitable arms of professional clubs, such as the Arsenal Foundation and Newcastle Falcons Rugby Foundation, contributed alongside national charities like Sported and Youth Sport Trust, and high-profile national entities such as Premiership Rugby and Special Olympics.

A packed programme of briefing sessions mixed with discussions forums and in depth focus groups was moderated by SFDC Executive Director Ollie Dudfield.

Welcoming the attendees, SFDC Chair Andy Reed said the new strategy represented a “golden opportunity” for sport for development as Sport England’s focus shifts from solely participation in physical activity, to championing the role of sport and physical activity in creating more integrated communities, a stronger economy and a society where physical activity is the norm. This includes tackling big issues identified through the consultation such as building back better from Covid, working with health at a greater scale, and putting children and families at the centre of creating foundations for active lives.

Premiership Rugby, pictured here delivering its ‘Hitz’ employability programme, was among the national organisations providing feedback

Andy said of the SFDC network: “Our unique selling point is that Sport England, and those other stakeholders key to delivering the strategy, see us as a unified sector. There is a common theme for what we all do, which is changing lives through sport, and intentionally using sport for the development of individuals and communities.”

Jon Fox, from the Strategy Team at Sport England, opened the morning’s presentations. He gave examples of where Sport England has already ‘banked’ some key findings from feedback received throughout 2020 – for example on tackling inequalities which must be “overtly central” to the strategy. He stated that the theme would need to run through the final strategy “like a stick of rock”.

Representatives from organisations across the SFDC network welcomed this, and emphasised the important role and untapped potential of sport for development in addressing inequalities in opportunities to be active through the strong focus on locally-owned and place-based approach to delivery across the network. 

Throughout the consultation, there was general endorsement from attendees that locally-led delivery are key to building stronger communities through sport and physical activity.

CONNECTIONS

Julie Robbins, Head of Inclusion & Diversity at Youth Sport Trust, encouraged policy-makers to “make sure we invest in local leadership… help them to collaborate between themselves and also making stronger connections with public services, including education, health and the local authority.”

Jackie Watkins, Managing Director of Tooting & Mitcham Community Sports Club, said the strategy should reach inactive people “who don’t even know they have a voice” if it was to be truly effective, and that sport for development organisations embedded and trusted within local communities were well placed to support this.

To do this she recommended: “You really need to talk to people who don’t necessarily know that their ideas will be heard, and that their issues are actually something that people are worried about – they think that nobody cares about them. Surveys are great, but discussion groups with people face to face can really help to understand their issues.”

Sab Bham, founder and CEO of Salaam Peace, endorsed the SFDC’s role in improving connectivity. “The work the Coalition has done has been huge because it has reached out and made sure voices have been heard,” he said.

Salaam Peace founder and CEO Sab Bham (pictured middle left) contributed to the consultation

“Since Covid, I think people are more receptive around community and around being active, not just physically, but in trying to do something for others, and we have used that as a positive to get more people involved and more people contributing. Now is the time that we really need to build on it…. it’s usually these negative experiences that make us look within, and also reach out.”

Numerous speakers from across the SFDC network emphasised the potential that a stronger focus on the wider outcomes sport for development approaches can deliver would act as a catalyst in creating strategic partnerships and unlocking funding across other areas of Government, such as departments for health, justice and employment.

Gary Laybourne, from the charity Coach Core which provides apprenticeships to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, said: “When it comes to actually getting partners to work locally, I think there is a misapprehension that it’s not working, and it really is in so many places that we go to.

“The bigger we get, the bigger the challenge around the types of services that we can bring in and collectively join up with national providers who are looking to do the same thing. It’s been an amazing few years to see so much collaboration and partnership taking place within the sector; the next step (that this strategy should support) is about that wider effect now.”

TANGIBLE

Cormac Whelan, from the Positive Youth Foundation, described how his organisation had taken the lead in a local partnership in Coventry to help “mitigate the gap created due to severe cuts in youth services”.

He said: “Sport on a community level works hand in hand with youth work in terms of outreach, when it’s open access and it helps to get young people onto a more tangible journey.

“(The partnership) has created a very good landing platform for national funders, and national coalitions, to be able to connect the dots right down at the grassroots up to the national picture.”

Viveen Taylor, Sport England’s Strategic Lead for Lower Socio-Economic Groups, said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had exacerbated “stubborn inequalities” faced by specific groups – such as disabled people, people with long-term health conditions and people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds – it also represented “a moment in time to try and change the landscape”.

Afternoon sessions ran in parallel, with Sport England staff providing presentations and debates on two areas; ‘The role of community sport groups, clubs and organisations in tackling inequalities’, and ‘Strengthening safeguarding in and through sport for development’.

Summing up the event, Ollie Dudfield said: “I want to thank all those in our collective network who participated and provided such rich inputs on the day. Facilitating the collective voice of sport for development into these and other nationally significant policy and strategy development processes is an important role for the Coalition.”

Sport England has now launched a final consultation period. Register to this online platform to join the consultation and submit your input.

The SFDC is also supporting calls for wider Government support for the sector in response to the impact of Covid-19. We will work with you to make a collective submission to the recently announced Department of Culture, Media and Sport inquiry on sport in communities.

‘OPEN DOORS’ SCHEME FOR VULNERABLE CHILDREN TO BE EXTENDED TO MARCH 2021

The ‘Open Doors’ programme, which gives vulnerable young people access to school sports facilities and healthy snacks and lunch during holiday time, is to be extended in London until March 2021.

ukactive and Sported today revealed plans to extend the scheme thanks to a new £160,000 grant from the Greater London Authority (GLA) following successful pilots over the past year.

The programme is now underway for October half-term, using the Government’s Covid-secure guidance, and will run during the school holidays until next March. It comes at a crucial time, with the pandemic widening the inequalities gap experienced by many children and young people.

The model focuses on providing the most vulnerable children and young people with safe and accessible spaces, unlocking school sports facilities as trusted environments where they are able to engage in sports and physical activity, mentoring and education, facilitated by positive role models, mentors and coaches. The young people who attend will also be provided with healthy snacks and lunch.

RISK

By creating hubs for activity and youth engagement, Open Doors works to reduce youth violence and crime by making positive community connections, while also improving physical and mental health.

The expansion of Open Doors means a number of school sites across London will remain open during the holidays to the children and young people that need it most, at a time when they are most at risk of youth violence and crime.

The programme is delivered in collaboration with Sported and its network of locally-trusted providers, to engage children and young people in sport and activities at a time of extreme isolation and disconnection from the community.

Jade Harris, Head of Children, Young People and Families at ukactive, said: “We are pleased to announce the expansion of the Open Doors programme funded by the Greater London Authority, and in partnership with Sported.

POSITIVE

“We believe every child and young person, no matter their background, should have fair access to positive activity, food and safe spaces to go during the school holidays.

“Supporting the youngest and most vulnerable in our communities has never been more essential and it is vital that we are proactive in our approach to combat the wellbeing issues we already see rising.”

Tom Burstow, Deputy CEO at Sported, said: “Sported’s network of 350 community sports groups across London typically provide a trusted, safe environment for many vulnerable young people however, their ability to operate has been severely impacted since the arrival of Covid-19.

“The number one concern of the community group leaders has been the physical and mental wellbeing of their participants who are increasingly disconnecting from positive influences and engaging in risky behaviours.

ACTIVITIES

“Against this backdrop, we are delighted to be working in partnership with the GLA and ukactive on the Open Doors programme which will provide a number of community sports groups the opportunity to operate safely within school facilities, allowing them to reach and engage young people positively through a range of holiday-time activities.”

Hilary Lissenden, Head of Community Sport at the Greater London Authority, said: “We know that young people are more at-risk to anti-social behaviour and crime during after-school and holiday periods and sport can be an important way to engage young people in positive activities. Our investment will benefit young people most affected by the pandemic and needing re-engagement in their education, contributing to the Mayor’s wider package of work on violence reduction.

“We’re looking forward to working with ukactive and Sported to further test the Open Doors model and the unlocking of school facilities as safe community hubs for young people.”