Creating memories from a summer of sport


Creating memories from a summer of sport

Written by Mark Lawrie, Chief Executive

The Summer Holidays are in full swing across the country, and what a summer it is for sports fans. As I write, our Lionesses may yet be the team to make those dreams a reality and finally bring football home. And in Birmingham, the Commonwealth Games are bringing communities together in celebration of some of the world’s greatest athletes.

Sport is a great unifier, with the power to bring people and communities together. It is fun, inspiring, and hugely beneficial for those who can access it. But sadly, as we know all too well, that is not everyone.

As the Summer Holiday wears on, I’d ask you to cast your mind forward and imagine that first day back in school in September. As children pile back into school classrooms and share stories about what they did during the holidays, the places they travelled to and the activities they took part in, imagine the kid on the edge of the group, keeping quiet because they have no stories to tell.

For too many young people, the summer holidays are not some idyllic adventure full of fun and travel. For families without the means to afford holiday clubs or trips, those six weeks can feel like an eternity – hungry, socially isolated, and deprived of the support on offer during term time. The Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research, in their analysis of the Family Resources Surveys from the years 2003/4-2013/14 found that an average of 26% of couples with children and 55% of lone parent families in the UK were deprived of a holiday due to low income, while figures from the Family Holiday Charity show that 2.2 million families, more than 7 million people in the UK, miss out on an annual holiday and 2.5 million children live in families that are too poor to even afford a day-trip. Today, in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis in a generation, and with underserved communities still struggling to recover from the pandemic, more and more families face a summer of hardship bereft of the experiences that make school holidays special.

The Family Holiday Charity defines social tourism as “the inclusion of people living on a low income in holiday and leisure activities”. Social tourism is not simply providing free or subsidised holidays but about recognising that holidays can have great benefits and a positive impact on young people, their families and the communities in which they live.

StreetGames recognises the value of taking young people out of their day-to-day environment and giving them the opportunity to gain new experiences. That’s why, as part of our #Inspiration2022 campaign, we’re working hard to bring this summer of sport directly into the lives of young people in underserved communities.

Between now and 8th August, over 440 young people will attend the StreetGames Summer Camp in Bromsgrove. For many, this will be the first time they have spent an extended amount of time away from home. Our previous experience tells us that those who get involved in Camp will develop new leadership skills, enjoy meeting and mixing with young people from across the UK and perhaps most importantly, be inspired to do more to grow Doorstep Sport in their local communities when they return. The opportunity offered by StreetGames Summer Camp for young people to be included in leadership and leisure activities is blended with the chance to visit a live, elite sporting event. This is part of addressing the disparity in spectation between the least affluent and most affluent families.

Over 2000 young people will have the chance to go to the Commonwealth Games for free, as a result of our work. The chance to see live, top-level international sport is usually far out of the reach of the young people we support. Through #Inspiration2022 we are opening that door and looking to inspire young people to play, volunteer and maybe even coach other young people to get involved in these sports when they are back in their neighbourhoods.

And in Birmingham, more than 30,000 will be involved in Games-inspired activities as part of our Bring It On Brum HAF delivery. We are working with partners including the Golf Foundation, England Athletics, England Hockey and the ECB/Warwickshire County Cricket Club to bring sport to the doorstep of thousands of young people living in underserved Birmingham neighbourhoods. All of that is before you even begin to think about the thousands of young people we will support to have a better holiday through Fit & Fed and HAF in areas like Derbyshire, Lancashire, Tower Hamlets, Sheffield, Hull, Newcastle, Merthyr Tydfil, Cardiff and Gwynedd – the list goes on.

StreetGames believes that trips like these are important formative experiences for young people, affording them the opportunity to mix with people from different backgrounds and broaden their horizons. Participants return home with increased ambitions, enhanced social skills and improved overall wellbeing. This summer, we’re looking forward to giving as many young people as possible the chance to go back in September with their own stories to tell.

How sport can inspire future generations


How sport can inspire future generations

Our CEO Mark Lawrie blogs about how #Inspiration2022 helps StreetGames to achieve our mission of a year-round multisport offer in low-income, underserved communities.

Each school holiday period, children and young people across the country enjoy of some of the brilliant holiday programmes on offer in their local neighbourhoods. For all too many of those living in underserved communities, these programmes will be a welcome respite from an otherwise bleak experience.

The sad reality is that for too many children and young people in the UK, the school holidays are far from the idyllic adventures depicted by books and media. For many households, half terms and summer holidays are a period of increased stress and hardship. Families already struggling to make ends meet suddenly find themselves forced to find extra cash to provide meals and snacks for their children, cash they simply don’t have. For working parents on low income, fixed-term contracts, the cost and difficulty of securing childcare in order to keep them in work is a tremendous hurdle.

These challenges have been well publicised in recent years, with fantastic campaigners like Marcus Rashford helping to show the country how tough school holidays can be for so many. It’s for this reason that programmes like the holiday activities and food programme (HAF) and StreetGames’ pioneering Fit and Fed campaign have evolved to fill that gap and to try to provide every young person with the chance to enjoy fun physical activity and healthy food during the school break.

At StreetGames we welcome the increased awareness of this issue and we’re proud to be part of the solution. But we also know that the problems with provision don’t begin with that last class bell. And while these holiday programmes are serving communities well in providing provision throughout the challenging holiday period, in many communities the start of term will herald the end of any suitable provision. Very few sports have a strong club base in low-income, underserved communities. With a few notable exceptions like boxing, football and rugby league, there are simply not enough opportunities to join clubs in these neighbourhoods. We know that most young people will only travel up to a mile from home to get involved in activity – it has to be on their doorstep and it has to be available when they want it. This includes finding suitable indoor spaces to ensure provision during the winter months.

Furthermore, even where some sort of sporting provision is available, it is not always appropriate to the needs of those young people who would benefit the most. Many young people want a multisport rather than a single sport offer – the varied and vibrant nature of a multisport offer attracts those young people who are less traditionally ‘sporty’ and are turned off by the more competitive and regimented nature of traditional sport clubs. Giving young people the chance to make choices about what is provided in their neighbourhoods encourages further involvement helps them to try a range of different sports and activities to find their niche. We know that for many young Doorstep Sports participants – 70% of whom don’t take part in any other organised community sporting activity – the chance to socialise with friends and engage in sport informally on their own terms is a key selling point.

Why does this matter? Because young people from low-income, underserved communities are likely to have less exposure to a broad range of different sporting experiences that develop their confidence and competence to participate. They are less likely to participate in extra-curricular activities and as a result of their household income (low income families spend on average £3.65 per week on sport and active leisure) will have limited if any access to leisure provision or sports club membership. A free or low-cost neighbourhood-based offer is therefore vital to increase their levels of sporting capital and a year-round offer contributes to building this sustainably.

At StreetGames, we recognise the transformational impact sport can make, helping young people to live healthier, safer, more successful lives. That’s why we work with LTOs and multiple funders and partners to help to piece together a year-round offer at a neighbourhood level, working within the confines of the system as it exists. This Doorstep Sport approach, when delivered in the right way (following the five rights) achieves a range of social outcomes for young people and communities but this does not take place overnight. For change to take place for young people, they need to be engaged on a regular and sustained basis. Whilst the nature of their lives may mean that they do not all attend every week, the provision of a year-round offer is essential, so that it is available when they are motivated to access it. The role of trusted adults in being available to support and engage young people when they need it is also a crucial feature of year-round provision.

2022 is a set to be a hugely exciting year for sport in the UK, with the Commonwealth Games, UEFA Women’s EURO and Rugby League World Cup joining annual events including Wimbledon and The Open in taking place on home soil. Further afield, the Winter Olympics, Women’s Cricket World Cup, FIFA World Cup and more round out a sporting calendar that is destined to inspire thousands more people to get active.

 But all too often, we’ve seen grand sporting events come and go with little or no plans in place to build on that enthusiasm and get more people active. And in many-low income, under-served communities the only ‘legacy’ left behind by the year’s most exciting sporting events is the national flags flying listlessly on balconies, with no vision or investment to transform that enthusiasm into a sustainable sporting offer for the next generation. Creating a meaningful community legacy of activity from major sporting events for young people who stand to benefit most demands our energy.

This year, we want to do more. We want to make sure that the ripple effect of hosting major events is felt by everybody, including those in underserved communities who still face barriers to accessing sport and physical activity.

 #Inspiration2022 is designed to do just that. With a programme of exciting events and opportunities, all tied in with these key sporting highlights, we’ll be working with our partners and our national network of Locally Trusted Organisations to bring a year-round, multisport offer of activities and experiences right to the doorstep of those young people who need it most.

600 young people brought together for Festival of Sport

600 young people brought together for Festival of Sport

More than 600 children and young people filled the Copper Box Arena at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for StreetGames and London Youth’s Summer of Sport Festival which took place on Thursday 25th August. The festival was run in partnership with the Jack Petchey Foundation.

The festival was organised to celebrate 10 years since the London 2012 Olympics, and the ongoing legacy of that summer of which StreetGames, London Youth and The Jack Petchey Foundation are proud to be a part.

Over 600 young people took part in more than 25 different sports and physical activities, including BMXing, Parkour, climbing and circus skills. Throughout the day, special guests from the world of sport and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport dropped in to experience first-hand many of the amazing sports and activities that London Youth, StreetGames and The Jack Petchey Foundation help young people from underserved communities to access – continuing the inspiring legacy of our home Olympics.

As well as providing a wide range of sport and physical activity for participants to get involved in, the event also included a star-studded panel of athletes and sports industry leads, curated by the Underground Fan Club, to give the young people insight into what it takes to work in the sport industry.

With food provided by the Felix Project – a London-based food redistribution charity set up in 2016 to tackle hunger and food waste – and the day supported by a team of 25 young leaders from London Youth and StreetGames projects, the festival was a fantastic celebration of the power of sport to help young people live healthier, safer, more successful lives.

James Gregory, StreetGames London and South East Area Director, said:

“This was an amazing opportunity for young people from all over London to get the chance to come together in an iconic venue to try out so many different sports and activities. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who helped support the event and we couldn’t have asked for a better way to mark 10 years since the London Olympics and celebrate the difference that legacy continues to make in the lives of young people.”

Rosemary Watt-Wyness, CEO of London Youth, said:

“Ten years on from London 2012, the Summer of Sport Festival was such a fantastic opportunity to bring together hundreds of young Londoners to celebrate the power of community sport. Right across the capital, youth organisations and youth workers play such an important role in getting young people active – many of whom might not have had the opportunities and support to take part otherwise. The Festival showcased the very best of this: young people trying new things and creating lasting memories. 2012 was a time for London to shine, and we’re proud to continue the legacy of the Games, creating opportunities for young people to discover a lifelong love of sport and physical activity.”  

Victoria Mirfin, Director of Programmes and Partnerships at the Jack Petchey Foundation, said:

“It was wonderful to see so many young Londoners at the event, trying out so many different sports – many for the first time. Jack Petchey Foundation was delighted to support this fantastic day. We hope it has inspired some future Olympians but, most of all, we hope it has helped many young people discover sports and activities that they will enjoy taking part in for years to come!”

The power of sport in preventing youth crime and anti-social behaviour


The power of sport in preventing youth crime and anti-social behaviour

Written by Mark Lawrie, Chief Executive

StreetGames knows that sport is about far more than physical fitness. We believe – and our network proves it day in and day out – that community sport, delivered in the right way, can have a transformational impact on young people’s lives and the communities they live in. With the right approach, sport can serve as a lever for real social change, offering young people positive alternatives and setting them up for the future.

In recent years, there has been growing attention on the power of sport in the context of community safety. Young people living in low income, underserved communities face real challenges and are more vulnerable to becoming victims or perpetrators of youth crime. And while the number of young people in custody remains at a record low, statistics show around 80 per cent of prolific adult offenders begin committing crimes as children – with the economic and social costs of reoffending costing an estimated £18 billion per year.

But we’re increasingly seeing how sports-based interventions can help break this cycle and provide the support and mentoring that young people need to begin moving down a better path. The recently published Chiles Webster Batson Commission report identified the ways in which sport can help young people to build positive pro-social identities, as opposed to anti-social ones, while StreetGames, working alongside Loughborough University, has been at the forefront of developing best practice in this area with programmes such as London Safer Together as well as collaborations with PCCs and Violence Reduction Units from Greater Manchester to the West Midlands, and from Derbyshire to Plymouth.

It’s an approach that has been given a further vote of confidence this month following the announcement of a new Ministry of Justice-funded programme providing £5 million to deliver sports programmes focused on preventing youth crime and anti-social behaviour. The funds will support voluntary and community sports organisations to carry out targeted work supporting children and young people who are at risk of entering the criminal justice system. The funds will be distributed by a new consortium, which is being chaired by the Sport for Development Coalition and involves leading sector experts the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice and StreetGames.

The goal of the fund is to engage and support vulnerable young people at risk of involvement in crime, anti-social behaviour and serious violence, and to build stronger connections between the sport sector and criminal justice partners to coordinate the support for them into positive life choices. Part of the programme will also involve training sport organisations to use sport, physical activity and mentoring to better meet the needs of the most vulnerable young people in their communities.

This investment will primarily be targeted at the “secondary cohort” of vulnerable young people aged 10-17 across England and Wales. Secondary prevention supports children and young people who could be considered to be at-risk of entering the justice system due to particularly challenging circumstances or additional vulnerabilities. This includes those at risk of school exclusion, those experiencing complex safeguarding issues, and those identified by the police as being vulnerable, or already being involved in anti-social behaviour, as well as a more targeted approach to young people who are vulnerable as a result of the area where they live, i.e. those living in areas with high rates of youth crime or in the bottom 20% for deprivation, where children are at greater risk of being perpetrators or victims.

Interventions will be tailored in such a way that they can provide additional structure to support a pro-social approach and to reduce the risk of involvement in anti-social behaviour, violence or gang activity.

With nearly 1,000 expressions of interest since the programme was launched last week, it’s clear there’s a huge appetite amongst community sports organisations to be able to deliver more of this focused community safety work, and a real belief in the power of sport to help young people to make positive life choices and stay on the right side of the law. Sport, provided in a safe, supportive environment, gives young people a sense of belonging, and exposes them to diverse, positive role models. It builds confidence, teaches new skills, and perhaps most importantly it offers these young people a safe space to go, with trusted mentors who can give them the support they need and which too many of them aren’t getting elsewhere.

We welcome this significant commitment from the Ministry of Justice to preventative approaches, and are excited to be working within the wider consortium to support this vital programme.

Chiles Webster Batson Commission on Sport and Low Income Neighbourhoods: how StreetGames are playing our part


Chiles Webster Batson Commission on Sport and Low Income Neighbourhoods: how StreetGames are playing our part

Written by Mark Lawrie, Chief Executive

As Britain’s Cost of Living crisis continues to bite, underserved communities across the country are facing an uncertain future. For many families, rising costs are putting ever greater strain on household budgets and the impact on children and young people in these neighbourhoods cannot be overstated.

Sport and physical activity can be a welcome relief in anxious times, and a great way to help young people stay mentally and physically healthy. But in tough times, activities like these are one of the first things to go as families tighten their belts. Despite the proven benefits of sport, access remains limited for too many. We know that fairer access and more opportunities for young people in underserved neighbourhoods can make a huge difference to their wellbeing, but the vision of a truly accessible sporting offer remains unfulfilled.

Last week, I had the great pleasure of joining with partners and sport for development organisations from across the country in the House of Lords to celebrate the publication of the final report of the Chiles Webster Batson Commission on Sport and Low Income Neighbourhoods. The Commission report offers valuable insight and recommendations about how to move this vision of a truly accessible sporting offer forward.

First launched in 2020 by Adrian Chiles, Charlie Webster and Brendon Batson OBE, the Commission set out to explore the important role local community organisations have in providing community sport in low-income neighbourhoods: supporting young people and their communities to improve their life chances.

It was fantastic to see so many people and organisations coming together to celebrate a ground breaking report, and to hear from some passionate speakers about the value of sport to the lives of young people.

Combining hard academic evidence, and in-depth conversation with community organisations themselves, the Commission found that community sport has a demonstrable impact on tackling issues such as youth crime and anti-social behaviour, poor mental health, and lower levels of participation in youth volunteering. It calls on policy makers to do more to ensure that community sport is given greater recognition and support within the wider sporting landscape.

The final report makes for fascinating reading, and in particular, contains some incredibly useful insights about the impact that locally trusted organisations (LTOs) make in local communities, but its overarching message was simply and powerfully summed up by Adrian Chiles in his remarks on the night – every young person needs something to do, somewhere to go, and someone to trust. That’s the role that so many organisations in the StreetGames network and beyond play day in, day out, in underserved communities across the country, giving young people the chance to enjoy sport and physical activity in a safe, trusted environment in the heart of their neighbourhoods.

While the Commission does an excellent job of shining a light on the difference LTOs are making to young lives, it is also up front about the challenges they face. Many of these organisations operate in a near-permanent state of financial precarity, living hand to mouth and stretching every pound as far as it will go. Too often, coaches and volunteers have to redirect their time towards lengthy grant-writing processes and fundraising activities instead of being able to focus on supporting the young people who rely upon them. Furthermore, the short-term nature of current funding models makes it incredibly difficult for many of these organisations to plan for the long-term.

Crucially, the Commission acknowledges the particular value that a place-based approach to sport and physical activity can bring to local communities. As the summative report puts it:

‘To enable children and young people living in disadvantaged communities to take part in sport and physical activity how they would like, provision needs to be built around the needs and assets of individuals and neighbourhoods, using place-based and person-centred approaches. Locally trusted organisations (LTOs) are ideally placed to support this endeavour. They understand local places, have the reach into communities, are trusted by local people, and are connected into local networks.’

The report includes a number of key recommendations for policy makers, funders and practitioners to better support community sport, including working towards a funding model that provides long-term consistent funding for community sports organisations, and recognising these organisations as valuable community assets that can be trusted to deliver real change for young people in low-income neighbourhoods to help level up the UK.

At StreetGames, we’re committed to playing our part to ensure that the Commission’s recommendations are acted upon. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and now in the teeth of a cost-of-living crisis, participation in sport needs to be poverty proofed to ensure that everyone gets the chance to feel the many positive benefits that sport can bring.

As the Commission report and its recommendations highlight, locally trusted organisations are the critical cog in ensuring that participation in life-enhancing sport is something that is available to all. StreetGames has been laser-focused on supporting LTOs for the last 15 years, and they will always be at the heart of what we do.

Our end game commits us to a vision where there is a year-round, multisport offer available in every low-income, underserved community, but we know we can’t achieve that on our own. That’s why the lessons of this Commission are so important – they can offer the beginnings of a roadmap for mainstream sports providers who want to change their practice to better meet the needs of young people from low income, underserved communities.

To ensure young people in underserved communities can have the same access to sport and its many benefits as their better off peers has always been at the heart of StreetGames’ mission. I know that we are joined in that mission by many phenomenal partner organisations who share our passion and commitment. The Chiles Webster Batson Commission will, I hope, prove a valuable asset for the whole of not just the Sport for Development sector but the wider sport sector, equipping all of us with a robust, evidence-led review that proves beyond doubt that when it comes to levelling up underserved neighbourhoods, community sport can and must have a part to play.

Explore more of the Commission’s findings with this sketchnote:

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