1,000 Voices

StreetGames chief warns of health time bomb as cost-of-living crisis worsens inequality in youth sport

  • Family finances top the list of worries for under 25s in lower-income households
  • Almost two in five not taking part in sport because they can’t afford it
  • Over one third (35%) say the cost-of-living crisis has negatively impacted how much they take part in physical activity

New research revealed today by StreetGames, the UK charity that aims to transform the lives of young people in low-income, underserved communities through sport and physical activity, paints an alarming picture. Over one third (35%) of those polled state that the cost-of-living crisis has had a negative impact on how much they take part in sport and exercise, whilst not being able to afford it was named the top barrier to taking part — cited by 39% of those surveyed.

Meanwhile, 40% named their or their family’s finances and the cost-of-living as their number one worry, ahead of concerns about school or college (39%) and their mental health (35%).

There is broad awareness amongst young people of the wide range of benefits — physical, social, and mental — that exercise brings, but only 25% of young people in lower-income households spend their spare time playing sport, despite as many as 72% say they enjoy taking part.

Mark Lawrie, CEO of StreetGames said: “We’re sitting on a physical and mental health time bomb. As a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis, not enough young people in lower-income households are getting the opportunity to take part in sport in their spare time, despite three-quarters of them telling us they would like to do more. We need urgent action.”

Whilst activity costs are clearly the main barrier, they are not the only issue — the cost of travel, concerns about not having the right kit or equipment, anxieties about how ‘sporty’ they consider themselves to be and feeling self-conscious, all prevent young people from doing sport and physical activity.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rectifying the issue, and it’s important to listen directly to young people to better understand their feelings and motivations. Seven youth segments have emerged from the research that capture the motivators, barriers, and associated emotions that young people experience in relation to sport.

From those who play sport to release stress to those who would love to do more, but anxiety and self-confidence holds them back, the segments are essential to understanding how to get young people active and address inequality of access — a personalised and collaborative approach is a must.

StreetGames CEO Mark Lawrie added: “We fully support Sport England, Sport Wales and the Department for Culture, Media & Sport who have both prioritised the need to tackle inequalities. We’re calling for the government and policy makers to accelerate their ambitions and ensure that public funding directly strengthens the capacity of local communities to deliver affordable and accessible sport and physical activity on the doorstep of those who need it most. We want to see clear accountability to ensure the strategy delivers.”

Unfairly missing out goes beyond the physical and mental health benefits that sport brings. These young people are missing the chance to develop crucial life skills like teamwork and confidence, which will have huge human and economic ramifications.

Getting this right has the potential to significantly benefit many areas of society and wider public policy. Investing in community sport has been shown to deliver a four-fold benefit — every £1 spent generates nearly £4 in return across health and wellbeing, strengthening communities and the economy.

The research provides recommendations on how best to rectify this inequality, and those looking for more information or advice can head to www.streetgames.org.

1,000 reasons to put sport front and centre

1,000 reasons to put sport front and centre

Written by Mark Lawrie – CEO of StreetGames

At StreetGames, we believe that sport can be a pathway for every young person to reach their best selves. The best part of my job is meeting so many brilliant young people – confident, talented, inspirational – and hearing them talk about how it all started with that first kick or throw of the ball. It’s hugely affirming to hear so many stories about the difference sport has made to a young person’s life and the opportunities that have opened up as a result of them getting involved.

But if it’s important to listen to those successes, it’s even more important to hear those young people when they come to us with a warning. And our new survey of 1,000 young people is sending a clear SOS signal when it comes to access to sport and physical activity, revealing that almost two in five young people in underserved communities are not taking part in sport because they can’t afford it.

In order to better understand the key issues and the similarities and differences amongst young people from lower income households, StreetGames commissioned Platypus Research to undertake a segmentation study. This included undertaking a survey with 1,000 young people aged 11-24 years and a qualitative on-line forum to gather further insight and ‘sense check’ the segments created.

The end result is a concerning snapshot of the challenges young people from lower income households are facing right now, and a valuable insight into their differing motivations and feelings about participation in sport and physical activity.

Tragically yet unsurprisingly, the ongoing cost of living crisis hangs heavy over the heads of too many young people. Over a third (35%) say the cost-of-living crisis has negatively impacted how much they take part in physical activity.This figure is especially high amongst those with caring responsibilities with half saying they do less, whilst also being significantly higher than average for those who are neurodivergent and/or have a physical disability. The persistent gender gap in sport participation was also evident, with girls more likely to report feeling anxious or self-conscious around sport.

We believe that access to sport and its benefits are a right and not a privilege. But the message coming loud and clear from these young people is that access to sport and physical activity opportunities are not equal for everyone. If you grow up in a low-income, underserved community your opportunities to play sport and be active are either limited or non-existent.  And while the most recent national surveys show a return to pre-pandemic activity levels for many, this is not the case amongst the least affluent where inactivity levels remain high and inequalities have widened. Today, just 42% of children and young people from low-affluence families are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for physical activity – a statistic which has serious implications for the future health and well-being of these young people. Our failure to provide a sporting offer that suits the needs of all young people has left us sitting on a public health time bomb.

Whilst only a quarter of young people specifically said that they spend their spare time playing sport, it was also clear that there is a strong appetite for building more sport and physical activity into their lives and an appreciation of the physical, social and mental benefits that taking part can bring. 72% said that they enjoy taking part and 75% want to do more. The message is clear: build the right offer, and they will come.

From those polled, seven youth segments have emerged that capture the motivators, barriers, and associated emotions that young people experience in relation to sport. From those who lack confidence around getting involved, to those who find sport and physical activity a great outlet for letting off steam and easing stress, these segments offer us the clearest picture yet on how to develop an offer which can cater directly to the young people’s disparate needs. These needs are essential to understand when seeking ways to address this inequality of access. A nuanced, person-centred approach is a must.

This widening activity gap has not gone unreported or unnoticed. Sport England’s latest Active Lives survey and Sport Wales’ latest Activity Tracker Survey shows that while activity levels in general have begun returning to pre-pandemic levels, the gap between those from lower socio-economic groups and those living in the most deprived areas and the rest is only getting worse. The UK is also lagging internationally, with National Sector Partners Group recently revealing that we rank 12th out of 15 comparable European nations for physical activity.

 It’s also a gap that the Government acknowledges in its new Sports Strategy, which includes welcome new targets for increasing sport and physical activity – with ambitions to activate 1 million more children and young people and 1.4 million more adults in low income households.

Also heartening is the new report from the Centre for Social Justice, Game Changer: A plan to transform young lives through sport – which recognizes the deeper value of sport, particularly the role it can play in both reducing crime and protecting young people from it. We look forward to supporting any opportunity to bring to life the findings in the report that continue to champion the role of Doorstep sport being delivered at the heart of communities by locally trusted organisations.

Understanding these young people is the first step in addressing their needs, but it is just that – a first step. It is incumbent on all of us in the sport sector and beyond to apply this understanding collaboratively in the way that we support the development and provision of sport and physical activity. At StreetGames, we’re committed to turning this knowledge into action – through workforce training, testing and learning and the provision of support and tailored offers to the local organisations these young people trust. This insight helps us more clearly understand the complex and changing attitudes of a range of young people and allow us to better deliver on their needs. We are committed, as a key part of our strategy, to supporting NGBs and the wider sports sector to have a better understanding of young people living in low-income communities, the variety of feeling towards sport within this group, and how they could expand their offers and enhance communication to better meet their needs as well as sharing learning on successes so that others can replicate and scale offers that really work in supporting more young people to be active.

We believe this new research provides essential knowledge of where young people are at right now when it comes to sport and physical activity, and offers a pathway towards a better, more bespoke offer that can help bring activity levels in underserved communities back up towards the national average. It’s never been more important to listen to young people’s voices. They have the answers we need to defuse this ticking time bomb – provided that policymakers and the wider sport sector are prepared to hear them.

Empowering Diverse Youth: The Cherry Tree Project

Empowering Diverse Youth: The Cherry Tree Project

Written by Chloe Schneider – Digital Communications Officer


The Cherry Tree Project is a community organisation based in Stockport and is a proud member of the StreetGames network; as a youth-led community group, they support young people by hosting weekly sessions and holiday activities. The Cherry Tree Project has become an integral part of the local community by providing a safe and inclusive space for personal growth and exploration. The vital work they did to support young people led them to participate in the original StreetGames Yoginis Yoga & Mindfulness pilot, which funded staff members to undergo training in Yoginis yoga and mindfulness. The Cherry Tree Project took what they had learned to empower diverse young individuals aged 14 to 20 by providing them with a safe and inclusive space for personal growth and exploration.

The project’s first programme catered to a group called Bio, comprising non-binary youths, several with mental health challenges, and a few who identified as neurodiverse. The positive impact of the initial programme led to its extension by a month at the request of the enthusiastic participants. The findings and research from this pilot have contributed to understanding the broader context of youth empowerment through yoga and mindfulness.

The Cherry Tree Project recognises the importance of addressing young people’s mental health and well-being. Many participants had experienced social isolation or faced mental health issues while attending mainstream education. The project aimed to create an inclusive environment where young people with various backgrounds and identities could come together, support each other, and feel safe to express themselves. This diverse group included individuals with physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and a young transgender man. The safe and supportive atmosphere offered by the project allowed these young individuals to explore their identities and develop self-awareness through yoga practice.

The Cherry Tree Project has actively addressed Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) through comprehensive training jointly delivered by Manchester’s Public Health and the StreetGames training team.
Recognising the importance of understanding and mitigating the impacts of ACEs, the Cherry Tree Project took a proactive approach to equip their staff with the knowledge and skills needed to support young individuals who may have experienced adversity.

Throughout the pilot, the Cherry Tree Project witnessed significant positive changes among the young participants. Through the empowering environment created by yoga and mindfulness practices, participants reported improved mental well-being, enhanced self-esteem, and increased self-awareness. Moreover, the programme received acclaim for its ability to address the needs of neurodiverse individuals, providing them with a space to embrace their unique identities and experiences.

As we reflect on the success of the Cherry Tree Project’s Yoga & Mindfulness Pilot, it’s evident that they’ve achieved the pilot’s objectives and aligned with the broader goals of the StreetGames network. By empowering diverse young people and fostering a sense of belonging and self-discovery, this initiative exemplifies the transformative power of Yoginis yoga and mindfulness in supporting young people’s empowerment and mental health. The Cherry Tree Project’s accomplishments serve as a model for future programmes aimed at uplifting and empowering diverse youth populations, aligning with StreetGames’ ultimate mission of empowering young people through physical activity.


Opening Schools Facilities: How StreetGames and consortium partners are transforming schools into thriving community hubs

Opening Schools Facilities: How StreetGames and consortium partners are transforming schools into thriving community hubs

At StreetGames’ our primary mission is to increase the opportunities for young people from underserved communities to take part in local sport and physical activities, therefore when the chance arose to be part of a consortium of partners bidding for the Department for Education (DfE) Opening Schools Facilities programme, we were delighted to get involved.  Alongside the Active Partnerships Network, Youth Sport Trust and UK Active, we are supporting schools to open their doors out of school time to deliver sport and physical activities for both the school community and the local community in underserved areas.

In our role as a consortium partner, we deliver on three distinct aspects.  First, we help schools to embed youth voice at the heart of the opening schools facilities programming. Second, we enable schools to think more broadly about the people needed to implement the types of activities, making sure they align with the preferences of the young people. Lastly, we connect schools to our extensive network of locally trusted organisations (LTOs) that provide Doorstep Sport for young people in local community settings, assisting with delivery and engagement with young people.

Over the last few months, we have been working with Active Partnerships to ensure that we provide the right offer of support to enable schools to provide a varied and interesting offer for young people. In Hull, through a school engagement day, we encouraged schools to look at the Five Rights to Doorstep Sport; right place, right style, right cost, right people and right time. We also delivered a youth voice training session for the schools, providing ideas for the school staff on how to engage with students in such a way that the young people have the opportunity to voice their thoughts on how the Five Rights are delivered in the Opening School Facilities programme.

In the upcoming Autumn, we will be conducting extensive youth voice consultation sessions in schools across England. These sessions will empower young people, identified by the schools, to discuss the barriers, motivations, and enablers affecting their participation in sport and physical activities. This feedback will help schools create physical activity offers beyond regular school hours, catering to those who currently cannot access traditional community sports.

Schools are increasingly seen as community hubs and often have extensive facilities; through this fund, we have the opportunity to open up these assets to provide new and exciting sport and physical activity offers which meet the needs of both the school and local community.

PE and School Sport are the bedrock foundation to a lifelong sport and physical activity habit – are we going far enough to ensure that every child is active for life?

PE and School Sport are the bedrock foundation to a lifelong sport and physical activity habit – are we going far enough to ensure that every child is active for life?

Mark Lawrie – Chief Executive


As a former primary school teacher, PE Coordinator and first-generation TOP Sport trainer (a historical reference that some may need to Google!) I will always advocate for greater levels of resources and support for growing and developing PE and school sport. School should be the place where every child, regardless of their background and personal circumstances, has the best possible start to an active and healthy life. This week the Government published the latest iteration of the School Sport and activity plan (SSAP), setting out its ambition for PE and School sport and the resources to support its objectives.

In a post-pandemic environment, where poor mental and physical health are two of the greatest challenges facing our education and health systems, how does the plan address the ever-evolving needs of children and young people in 2023?

Positively, in a world where many of us call for closer collaboration between government departments, the SSAP is sponsored by the Department for Education, with input and support from both the Department of Health and Social Care and DCMS. The benefits of sport and physical activity cut across multiple areas of government, and to see this joined-up response is extremely heartening.

At a time when schools are under significant pressure to deliver achievement and attainment targets across the whole curriculum, the encouragement to include a minimum of 2 hours of PE time during the school day, every week, with equal access for boys and girls, reflects the vital role of PE in the overall wellbeing of children. An active child is a better learner – the evidence is compelling.

The equal access aspect of this ambition is vital. National data from the Active Lives survey for children and young people continues to show an activity gap between boys and girls. StreetGames’ experience from our award-winning Us Girls programme, is that getting the activity offer right for girls and young women from low-income families requires a clear understanding of what motivates girls to take part and how you can remove the barriers that prevent them. Fun, Fitness and Friends, the strapline for Us Girls, points towards the key motivators for those girls who might be considered ‘semi-sporty’, those for whom sport is not always their first choice. With this in mind, does the plan go far enough to consider how to address the sport and activity needs of all girls? What more can be done to engage those who perhaps do not identify as ‘sporty’ or see themselves as a future Lioness?

The ability to swim is about far more than access to sport; it is a life skill and can, at times, be a life-saving skill. The SSAP outlines how the DfE will work with Swim England and other partners to ensure that all primary-age children can swim before they head to secondary school. Access to swimming is one area where the disparities between more affluent and less affluent children are most stark. The poorest families spend no more than £3.65 per week on sport and active leisure. This is not per child but for the whole family. In most leisure facilities, this would not pay for a single swim. It is for this reason that StreetGames has developed Fit, Fed and Swim, working with Swim England and Birmingham City Leisure Trust. Fit, Fed and Swim is a legacy programme from Birmingham 2022 and provides access to breakfast and regular swimming lessons for those children whose families cannot afford to take them regularly.  The SSAP sets out that schools will be able to use their Primary PE Premium to support disadvantaged pupils to access swimming. Fit, Fed and Swim offers an opportunity to creatively blend this with addressing the wider needs of these children.

So where could the ambition in the SSAP have gone even further? It is really positive that the plan includes references to both the DfE Opening School Facilities (OSF) and Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programmes. Both are important pillars in ensuring access to extra-curricular and holiday time sport and physical activity. StreetGames are delighted to be part of the consortium with the Active Partnerships, Youth Sport Trust and ukactive supporting the Opening School Facilities programme. Our offer within the programme is about ensuring that the activity offer takes into account the voice of young people. In Year 2 of OSF we will provide training that helps schools engage their young people both in sharing what works for them and in becoming part of the delivery of sport and activity outside school through youth social action.

The missing link in this ‘out of hours’ section of the SSAP is the vital role of community organisations in providing opportunities for children and young people to be active outside the school day. Competitive extra-curricular sport in school works for some young people and should always be available, but what about those for whom their motivation or ability to access is different? OSF offers a prime opportunity for schools to engage the locally trusted organisations in their community that provide the kind of informal sport and physical activity that StreetGames knows works for many children and young people from low-income backgrounds. The Sutton Trust have regularly reported on the barriers to access for disadvantaged pupils to extra-curricular activities. Their 2021 research brief on extracurricular inequality includes the stark statistic that top earners are almost four times more likely than bottom earners to have paid for out of school enrichment classes.  More than 65% of young people who attend Doorstep Sport sessions do no other sport or physical activity outside the school curriculum.

These inequalities deepen further during holiday times. With the current cost of living crisis, low-income families simply cannot afford to pay for children to regularly access sporting opportunities during holiday periods. The DfE Holiday Activities and Food programme has provided a lifeline to families with children eligible for Free School Meals and other vulnerable pupils. The expectation that all HAF provisions must include the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of 60 minutes of sport or physical activity every day means that children most at risk of inactive holidays can find safe, appropriate places to keep moving. StreetGames founded the HAF Active group of national sport sector organisations to encourage a collective response to the opportunity offered by HAF. As members of the wider HAF Alliance, we advocate for the importance of the sport and physical activity offer within holiday provision and for the vital role of trusted community organisations in delivering HAF provision. Our learning from being involved in the pilots for HAF in Newcastle through to our coordination of the largest HAF programme in the country in Birmingham, Bring It On Brum, has shown us how HAF can serve as a catalyst to ensure that disadvantaged children and young people have access to a sport and physical activity offer that works for them both with and beyond the holidays.

Returning to my opening comments, any resources and support for PE, School Sport and activity are to be welcomed, particularly when there are so many other priorities for government spending. The challenge now is to go beyond what is outlined in the SSAP and ensure that we include those children and young people who may be at risk of missing out and who also stand to gain the most from the benefits of access to sport and physical activity.

Team GB launches charity partnerships with StreetGames and YoungMinds

Team GB launches charity partnerships with StreetGames and YoungMinds as part of its social impact strategy

The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced charity partnerships with StreetGames and YoungMinds, two of the country’s leading young people’s charities, focusing on physical activity in underserved communities and mental health and wellbeing respectively.

As part of the partnerships, and in line with the BOA’s and the British Olympic Foundation’s social impact strategies, the charities will be able to leverage the power of the Team GB brand and its athletes to support their objectives in tackling conditions that adversely affect young people’s mental and physical health and wellbeing, at home and in the community.

The BOA’s own research has identified that significant portions of the population feel that Team GB can legitimately talk about physical and mental health, and believe that Team GB athletes are positive role models in this regard.

The BOA will work with YoungMinds, the UK’s leading young people’s mental health charity, to support a much-needed shift in the conversation around mental health. Team GB’s athletes will be lending their voice to the fight for a world where all young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.

In working with StreetGames, Team GB will support the drive to tackle some of the most pressing issues faced by young people growing up in underserved communities, helping to make them healthier, safer and more successful.

British Olympic Association CEO, Andy Anson, OBE said: “We are very excited about our partnerships with StreetGames and YoungMinds and the impact these relationships can create.”

“Our athletes are part of a global movement who want to push for significant social change. We have also witnessed a much-welcomed shift from athletes in their openness to conversations around mental and physical health. We look forward to working with both charities to utilise the power of sport to create positive change for young people across the UK.”

Laura Bunt, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said, “We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Team GB and to work with a range of inspiring athletes who are sharing their messages about mental health with young people.

“Young people today are growing up facing huge pressures following a global pandemic and emerging into a cost of living crisis. We know that hearing messages of support and hope from people who are under pressure to perform publicly can be really powerful. Working with Team GB will increase our reach and ensure that more young people are able to access advice about their mental health when they need it. It will also remind them that whatever they are doing and whatever they are going through, their mental health matters.”

John Cove, Chair of StreetGames, said: “Our partnership with Team GB empowers us to use the immensely positive power of Olympic sport and the incredible passion, skill and commitment of athletes to make a lasting impact on the lives of young people. Together, we can bridge the sporting inequality gap, deliver vibrant sports sessions, and share authentic stories that inspire and empower. Through this powerful collaboration, we are transforming lives and creating a future where every young person can thrive through sport and physical activity.”

The charities will partner with the BOA until the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

The new partnerships will complement Team GB’s existing youth engagement programme Get Set. Originally created as the official education programme for London 2012, Team GB and ParalympicsGB’s Get Set offers a broad programme of free, cross-curricular resources and activities for schools and community groups, and has engaged with over 93% of UK schools since its launch.

Aiming to support all young people in fulfilling their potential and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle, the programme helps pupils to embrace the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect and the Paralympic values of determination, inspiration, courage and equality.

SPORT 4 GOOD: Empowering communities through inclusive training and strengthening the Doorstep Sport Workforce

SPORT 4 GOOD: Empowering communities through inclusive training and strengthening the Doorstep Sport Workforce

At StreetGames, we are driven by our passion for creating an excellent, diverse local workforce that reflects the richness and diversity of the communities our LTOs serve. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that every young person living in a low-income, underserved neighbourhood has access to the right sporting opportunities, free from barriers and limitations.

The StreetGames Training Academy plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. We develop and deliver bespoke training programmes that equip coaches, volunteers, and sports development staff with the necessary skills, confidence, and knowledge to bring Doorstep Sport to every underserved community.

Our training empowers the workforce to initiate positive change by focusing on areas such as building relationships, adapting mainstream sports delivery, community safety, as well as mental and physical well-being.

What sets us apart is our dedication to making learning easy, practical, and interactive. This approach allows us to reach and engage individuals who may not have had previous access to training or positive learning experiences. StreetGames training has a higher percentage of candidates from ethnically diverse communities than most NGB training offers – “we take our training to the doorstep of these communities instead of just online, or at central venues that suit us – we are the people beside the people and it’s all about ‘Frontline First’.” – Mark Roughsedge, Workforce Lead, LSE.

By expanding their knowledge, skills, and behaviours, we broaden their opportunities and boost their confidence to pursue further training, volunteering roles, and employment with Locally Trusted Organisations who are committed to utilising the power of Doorstep Sport to transform lives and local communities.

Over the last year, the StreetGames London South East team have delivered over 70 courses to nearly 1000 candidates, with 66% of participants coming from ethnically diverse communities, showing that we are training people who traditionally face barriers to mainstream coaching qualifications. 58% of those accessing our training also come from LSEG groups 1-4, showing that we are reaching those people who face numerous other barriers to CPD opportunities in the sports sector.

Through these initiatives, we have supported LTOs to adhere to the 5 rights of Doorstep Sport (Right Place, Right Time, Right Price, Right Style, Right Leaders) to make sure the community sport offer is what children and young people want it to be so they keep returning to be healthier, safer and more successful in their own communities.

Leading our workforce development work in London is, Dan Dodge and Mark Roughsedge who are our Workforce Development Managers.

For more detailed information about our comprehensive training offer, or to arrange for StreetGames to come and deliver training at your venue for your team and partners, please visit The Training Academy section on the StreetGames website or email training.academy@streetgames.org

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2023 & #OpenGoal

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2023 & #OpenGoal

StreetGames are marking the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) this April 6th by supporting the first anniversary of the #OpenGoal campaign.

#OpenGoal has been shaped by StreetGames and fellow members of the Sport for Development Coalition to showcase how sport and physical activity can contribute to building a fairer, more equitable and sustainable future. In particular, it focuses on how the 400-plus members of the Coalition specifically support a series of positive health and societal outcomes such as reducing crime and anti-social behaviour, and building stronger communities and social cohesion.

IDSDP takes place each year on April 6th and, according to the United Nations, presents “an opportunity to recognise the positive role sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives across the globe” – a theme that resonates particularly strongly in 2023 because of the cost-of-living crisis which has followed the Covid-19 pandemic, and continued conflict and displacement around the globe.

First and foremost, #OpenGoal will see the Coalition call on UK Government to ringfence funding committed for jobs, health and tackling crime towards targeted sport-based interventions that can save public money and generate multiple returns on investment, from improving the physical and mental health of individuals facing disadvantage and discrimination, to increasing educational attainment and the ability to secure employment.

A good example of this is the £5million Youth Justice Sport Fund created by the Ministry of Justice in November 2022, and co-ordinated by StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice on behalf of the Coalition. More than 200 community-based organisations have received funding through the MoJ initiative, offering a range of exciting activities from BMX to boxing.

Mark Lawrie, CEO of StreetGames, said: “At StreetGames, we know that sport is about far more than physical fitness and that often those who would most benefit from sport do not have the opportunity to play. Our research shows that for young people at risk of becoming involved in crime, effectively delivered Doorstep Sport can have a transformational impact on their lives – developing skills, connecting them with diverse, trusted role models, and providing a safe space and sense of belonging. Ongoing engagement in sport and volunteering can support young people onto positive pathways and help to keep them and their communities safe.”

#OpenGoal will see the Coalition work across multiple sectors, for example by working with partners to secure more private sector and corporate investment into targeted programmes tackling the social issues faced by young people in disadvantaged communities across the UK.

Finally, #OpenGoal will champion sport’s role in tackling inequalities and building a fairer society through national and local media, helping to amplify the business case for scaled investment in targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions.

To find out more, follow @SFDCoalition #OpenGoal on Twitter or visit https://www.sportfordevelopmentcoalition.org/open-goal-framework

Up to £57m investment received for schools to open their sports facilities to support communities to be more active

Up to £57m investment received for schools to open their sports facilities to support communities to be more active

As part of their work to support the nation to move more, Active Partnerships in collaboration with national partners StreetGames, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust, have been awarded up to £57m from the Department for Education, to help schools to open their sports facilities outside of the school day in areas where it is needed the most.

The three-year Opening School Facilities investment will be allocated by all 43 Active Partnerships across England, working locally to identify the areas of greatest need. Locations will be targeted where health and social inequalities exist, enabling better access to physical activity opportunities for those who find it more challenging to be active.

As well as supporting schools to provide more out of school opportunities for their school children and community users, priority will be given to projects encouraging women and girls to be more active, those that help disadvantaged and culturally diverse communities, and those supporting special educational needs, disabilities or long term health conditions.

Andy Taylor, Chief Executive for Active Partnerships National Team said: “We are delighted that schools across England will receive a share of this new three year investment to help them open up their sporting facilities outside of the normal school day.  Our network of 43 Active Partnerships will support schools to develop and deliver their plans, working together to identify those local communities facing the greatest inequalities and help give them access to more varied opportunities to be physically active.  We aim to engage with 1350 schools throughout the funding programme.

“As well as using the funding in this way to achieve the biggest impact possible, it is imperative that the investment creates sustainable physical activity programmes to continue to support communities to move more for their health and wellbeing for many years to come. We will be helping schools to create the right environment where those projects can continue, giving more people the chance to be and remain active.”

Schools can use this funding to purchase equipment to deliver new or additional clubs, to train employees to obtain qualifications to deliver new or additional activities and to pay for activity deliverers to run the clubs. They can also use funding to open their school swimming pools for pupils, focusing on providing valuable swimming and water safety lessons during and outside of the school day.

Active Partnerships, StreetGames, ukactive, and the Youth Sport Trust will work together to ensure the objectives of the programme are exceeded through collaboration and co-design. The shared goal of creating more positive experiences of physical activity for school and community users whilst focusing on those who need the most support will ensure we are narrowing inequalities which exist within our communities.

In the recent Active Lives Children and Young People survey (covering 2021/22 academic year) from Sport England, it was revealed that children and young people’s activity levels overall have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, with 47% of children meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in an average of 60 minutes or more of sport and physical activity a day.  There are rises in both the numbers getting active outside school hours and during school hours which highlights how hard schools worked to get sport and activity back in a safe and positive way after Covid-19.

However, those from low affluence families are still less likely to be active than those from high affluence (42% compared to 52%) and children and young people going to school in the most deprived places in the country have not seen activity recover to pre-pandemic levels. There are signs that certain interventions can make a big difference, such as schemes to promote physical activity locally, working with a range of partners.  The Opening School Facilities funding will adopt these learnings to deliver localised activity across England where it is needed the most.

Children’s Mental Health Week 2023


Children’s Mental Health Week 2023

Written by Mark Lawrie, Chief Executive

Mental health conditions are becoming more and more prevalent in children and young people, with the World Health Organisation estimating that 10-20% of all children and adolescents experience a mental disorder at some point in their lives.  The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Let’s Connect, a message that is about making meaningful connections for all – during the week itself, and beyond.

It’s a theme that remains incredibly pertinent two years on from the height of lockdown and the Coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, while on the surface society has continued to open up and regain a sense of normality, for many people – and many young people especially – the lasting impact of lockdown remains. For children and young people forced to spend some of the formative years of their life living in isolation, without the normal support network of peers, friends and teachers, these have been immensely troubling times, times that risk leaving an indelible mark on the mental health and wellbeing of a whole generation. It’s widely understood that people thrive in communities, and this connection is vital for our wellbeing. For too many young people, the lived experience of being deprived of that connection continues to have a detrimental effect.

For young people in underserved communities this impact is particularly acute. During lockdown, these young people were less likely to have adequate green space, such as a garden or park, to exercise or safely socialise in. Many were forced to live in cramped conditions, denied privacy or space to study or relax, and too often faced with challenging circumstances at home, from stress, to financial hardship to substance abuse. Without having the right support in place, it should come as no surprise that some of these young people have struggled to ‘bounce back’, especially as these same families now find themselves at the sharp end of a growing cost of living crisis.

Healthy connections – to family, friends and others – are so important for our mental health and our sense of wellbeing. And we know that sport and physical activity can be a fantastic way to build and maintain those connections. Participating in sport can help to improve physical health, increase self-confidence, and provide a sense of belonging. It can also help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and reduce the risk of depression.

With strong evidence that regular participation in sport and physical activity has measurable benefits for mental health and wellbeing, it is a real challenge that many families in the lowest income bracket have just £3.65 to spend on leisure per week, leaving them priced out of many traditional sport and recreational offers. The end result is that fewer children and young people from low-income families participate in sport and physical activity, they miss out on the chance to make connections and thrive, and this contributes to the higher risk of them developing mental health conditions at an early age.

Alongside the clear link between physical activity and better mental health and the growing evidence that sport and exercise can help to prevent and reduce the symptoms of mental health conditions in children and young people, the other benefits that being active offers include the development of important skills such as teamwork, communication, and resilience, which can help children and young people to cope with any future mental health problems. Perhaps most importantly, sport and physical activity – especially of the kind delivered through our Doorstep Sport model – offers young people the chance to socialise and build meaningful relationships with their peers and with trusted adults who can support and mentor them through the challenges they face. In addition to opportunities for participation through Doorstep Sport, many of our network of locally trusted organisations provide targeted interventions and peer mentoring for young people, so they are able to enjoy the benefits of taking part in sport and physical activity as a way of improving their mental health and aiding their recovery. Those with lived experiences of recovering from poor mental health and wellbeing are supported to become peer mentors. That’s why the everyday work of our network of trusted organisations, at the heart of their local communities, is so important.

StreetGames believe that access to sport and its benefits is a right and not a privilege. Through our core Doorstep Sport approach and innovative, sector-leading programmes, we are breaking down traditional barriers to accessing physical activity and supporting young people living in underserved communities to lead healthier, happier lives. The impact is clear, with data showing Doorstep Sport participants scoring above the national average for life satisfaction, overall happiness and feeling worthwhile. Doorstep Sport participants also score above the national average for social trust and belonging, and are in line with the national average for self-efficacy. If we want to turn more young people’s lives around for the better and begin to tackle the persistent inequalities in sports access, a Doorstep Sport offer in every underserved community is a great place to start.

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