Grassroots sport needs help "more than ever" in 2023
By Sported | 1st January 2023
By Sported | 1st January 2023
Grassroots clubs must get the help they need to survive this year to protect the wellbeing of young people, the head of the UK’s leading community sport charity has warned.
Tens of thousands of participants in sport and other physical activities are at risk of missing out on opportunities to play over the next six months due to cost of living pressures, Sported chief executive Nicola Walker has insisted.
The charity, as part of its Keep the Doors Open campaign, has written to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, and Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, to flag up the urgency of the problems currently being faced by groups and organisations across the UK.
Sported’s own research recently found that over two-in-three clubs expect economic pressures to force kids out of participating during 2023 – even when activities are free. 72 per cent of these groups have already been forced into changes to offset cost of living increases including reducing the number of sessions offered or lowering the numbers of young people who can take part.
Almost one-in-five groups fear they will need to halt activities altogether which could have a devastating effect on their physical wellbeing – but also on their mental health and ability to deal with other key societal issues.
Nicola Walker said: “Cost of living has created a timebomb for community sport with so many young people – especially in deprived areas – at risk of being priced out and losing access to a safe and positive environment.
“We see the life-changing work that so many of these grassroots groups do in providing an opportunity for kids to play and learn, as well as addressing critical issues such as youth violence, mental health issues and knife crime.
“We are hearing countless tales of volunteers putting their hands in their own pockets to keep the doors open, rather than slashing provision. But those reserves will eventually run dry.
“More than ever, we need all levels of government and other agencies to urgently find ways to support these organisations to remain sustainable. Otherwise, there is a risk that many of them will be wiped off the map during 2023.”
Mark Rawthorpe, who runs RABC Boxing Club in Huddersfield, said: “We’ve been doing everything we can to stay open to anyone who is struggling whether that’s discounts or other ways to chip in.
“We see some of the issues in the area with knife crime or violence. Mums and dads are crying down the phone asking us to help them because social services are stretched. We want to keep helping in our community but it costs money to keep doing the work that we do.”
75 per cent of groups expect their costs to go up by 50 per cent on average. 51 per cent of community groups need between £1,000 – £9,999 to support their cost of living priorities during a six-month period but almost 50 per cent reported a drop in financial support (such as from local businesses, trusts and foundations) for their vital work in the community.