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

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.

The benefits of yoga for young people

The benefits of yoga for young people

The Covid-19 pandemic has been particularly tough for children and young people. The upheaval to their lives has had a drastic impact on their mental health. A recent NHS Digital survey found that one in six children in England had a probable mental disorder in 2021 and since 2017, 39% of 6-16 year olds had experienced a deterioration in their mental health.

As our work in youth social prescribing demonstrates, StreetGames has been leading the way in helping more children and young people to improve their health and wellbeing. As part of this, we have been working in partnership with Yoginis Training Ltd to devise and deliver a 6-week programme of yoga and mindfulness aimed specifically at young people.

Yoga is widely recognised as a form of mind-body medicine, focusing on strength and mobility, and integrating mind, body and breath to boost physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga cultivates calmness and wellbeing whilst also facilitating friendliness, compassion and greater self-control. Yet despite these benefits, it is rarely an activity which is provided in community sessions for young people.

In 2020 we started upskilling the workforce on ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) & Trauma Informed Practice. Many of the young people we work with have experienced multiple ACEs – with the effects of these further compounded by the pandemic which has disproportionately affected low-income and ethnic minority populations.

ACEs have been shown to cause a toxic stress response, in which the body can struggle to release itself from the “fight or flight” state. As a wellbeing activity, yoga helps the body move into the opposite state of “rest and digest”. We therefore identified a significant opportunity to maximise the benefits of yoga for this audience. When we spoke to community organisations in the StreetGames network, many had started to see the value of holistic activities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness and were interested in increasing opportunities for their young people to access them.

StreetGames yoga pilots

Initially, we delivered two pilot projects with the aim of improving wellbeing and resilience in 14–25-year-olds living in areas of deprivation. For the first pilot, we worked with Link4Life in Rochdale to engage a group of Muslim girls in their teens. We wanted to work with this group to explore their interest in a programme of this nature: was it attractive? Would they access it? How would it be perceived by a group less traditionally involved in physical activity, that had previously lacked the access and opportunity to take part in yoga?

The second pilot saw us working with Anfield Sports and Community Centre to engage a mixed gender group of teenagers in Liverpool. Here, we were keen to explore the value of yoga to a group with different levels of learning and behavioural needs.

Feedback from the young people who took part in these projects was extremely positive, with 93% of participants in Pilot 1 and 66% of participants in Pilot 2 reporting improved mood and/or an increase in energy levels after taking part in each session. A young participant of the pilot told us, ‘I’ve found yoga to be a great stress reliever, and really helpful and freeing’.

With the success of the pilot, we were keen to expand into further locations to deliver more workforce training, allowing more facilitators and leaders to deliver the programme and ultimately enable more young people living in low-income, underserved communities to learn about yoga, boost their physical and mental wellbeing, and have the confidence to take part in yoga now and in the future.

In Spring 2021, we upskilled staff from 13 community organisations in the North West and Bradford with our Gateway to Yoga training course. Thanks to funding from Sport England’s Together Fund, each organisation was able to deliver two 8-week pilots over the following nine months, bringing the mind-body benefits of yoga to more young people living in underserved communities.

Read about the yoga programme at Junction 4 Skatepark, a community led skate park in Darwen, Lancashire and one of the organisations benefitting from our training.

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