Across the country, thousands of community groups utilise sport and physical activity as a tool to reach parts that other methods cannot.
This is a potent collective network, driving physical activity and igniting change in each of our communities, frequently staffed only by volunteers, but reaching millions without due fanfare.
They are delivering genuine economic and social impacts despite minimal investment, solving pressing problems in real time as true forces for good.
And yet, these are assets often under-valued by sporting governing bodies, under-served by government, and ignored in policy-thinking.
To support and deepen their impact, we’re calling on government to:
Change the funding model for community-owned sports and physical activity groups, granting them greater access to the same pots of discretionary funding as leisure centres and swimming pools.
Previous Budget offerings have offered help that extends to the privately-run leisure sector. Yet for every £1 invested in sport-for-good, there is a return of £5.90 in social value. This compares to £1.70 from performance sport and £3.91 in participation sport. It underlines why sources of support and funding should be open to micro-organisations creating value for their locale as well as large trusts and providers.
Work with Sported and partners to review how community sports groups can actively support initiatives and policies tackling social issues such as health and wellbeing, anti-social behaviour, community cohesion and inclusion, educational attainment and truancy.
28% of community groups address crime and other disruptive behaviour. 38% build community cohesion. 31% enhance education and employability. And then, unsurprisingly, comes the inarguable benefits for health, and physical and mental wellbeing. These are effective interventions, undertaken with the support of a wider local community, through an alternative structure driven by those with lived experience who instinctively understand their environment. And 49% of Sported member group say they want to working with government on social issues like dealing with anti-social behaviour, education or truancy.
Ensure that school facilities are made available for more times at affordable rates by changing access policies that limit capacity while removing external revenue generation as a primary focus.
41% of our groups cite difficulties in securing facilities while 52% of parents say there are presently not enough local sports clubs available in their area. Affordability has decreased as more of the school hall/pitch estate has been handed over to profit-driven operators. Reversing this would increase the capacity for community groups and make them more financially sustainable.
Commit to reviewing existing Government and partner agencies policies and procedures in order to reduce the burden in applying for funding and the reporting processes for evaluating outcomes.
Charities like Sported alleviate some of the burden by bridging the gap that exists between large-scale institutions and these micro-organisations. But our insight highlights the over-complexities of funding applications or subsequent documentation. 92% of our groups want government to make applications easier and more accessible. Evidenced analysis is important. But excessive paperwork injects disincentives which disrupt the intended outcomes. Abbreviated evaluation mechanisms would add to the returns and improve connections between communities and government.
In Sported’s October 2023 Pulse Survey of community groups, we asked: ‘What could government at national or local level do support what you do?’
92% said Encourage funders to make funding applications easier/more accessible.
65% said Delivering health initiatives through community groups.
57% said Making school facilities more available and at an affordable rate.
49% said Working with you on social issues like dealing with anti-social behaviour, education or truancy.
32% said More tax relief for community groups.
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"The biggest impact and probably best thing that has ever happened for my organisation was joining the Sported network”
– Sported Member