Access Sport was established in 2004 in response to the lack of opportunities for disadvantaged and disabled children to play sport. Their work supports young people aged 5-25 with a particular emphasis on under 18’s who are disabled, disadvantaged or excluded from society.
The charity is now building thriving community sports clubs, led by their inspirational volunteers in the most disadvantaged urban areas of the country. Through the help and perseverance of local volunteers, these clubs have provided life-changing opportunities for local, vulnerable young people.
Access Sport’s success has been showcased through their work of getting children and young people active through playing sport. 169 community sports clubs have been developed across London, Bristol, Manchester and Oxford. Offering a multi-sport approach which recognises the importance of different sports in different settings for different participants has helped create an inclusive experience. Clubs include BMX, boxing, running and rugby.
Last year, 9,842 young lives were improved by Access Sport providing opportunities to play sport over the past three years. Over 4,133 more disadvantaged children and young people are now playing sport regularly.
In reaching out to children and young people in local communities, Access Sport utilises their diverse volunteering pool. Last year, 600 young people were up-skilled to act as community leaders, 316 regular volunteers have been recruited, 208 new community sports coaches have been trained and over 207 existing sports coaches and volunteers have been up-skilled. 47 people have now secured local employment through being involved in their volunteering work, which adds real value to life and people skills.
The Ignite volunteering programme has helped develop and support equal opportunities for disabled people to engage in volunteering. A success of this programme is the number of disabled volunteers at Access Sport’s Boccia clubs in Bristol. By funding and organising Boccia Leaders courses, Access Sport has welcomed over 40 new volunteers including wheelchair users, those with Cerebral Palsy and Usher Syndrome. Several leaders now volunteer at local clubs.
Access Sport helps engage people of all ages, abilities and demographics from their own communities by up-skilling, training and mentoring volunteers to develop life skills and confidence. Focusing on youth development it improves aspirations and employability opportunities helping to transform lives.
Access Sport builds upon the skills and abilities of volunteers, recruiting local people, providing training/support and empowering them to take ownership of new clubs. This not only improves club sustainability and higher quality coaching for participants but also makes sure personal development, equipping volunteers with important qualifications and beneficial transferrable skills.
Mark Hardie, Chief Executive hopes that the number of volunteers getting involved in Access Sport programmes will keep growing “By working with different clubs and groups across the country, Access Sport has shaped a volunteer programme that allows anyone, no matter what age or ability, to become a valuable part of their community through these experiences.”
A volunteer who has enjoyed working with Access Sport added: “The impact volunteering has had on my life is incredibly positive. I was living a fairly sedentary life when I volunteered over a year ago. Since then I have lost two and a half stone. I am much more active in day to day life, I’m also more confident and cheerful than I have been for several years. I want to keep volunteering with our inclusive athletic group for as long as I am able.”
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Case studies like this would be great entries for our Community Sport and Recreation Awards which launch this September #GrassrootsAwards.