To celebrate International Women’s Day 2016, here are some stories about Sported members led by strong women, aiming to fulfill the potential of young women across the UK, and how we are supporting them to achieve that.
Water Adventure Centre (Manchester)
The Water Adventure Centre is a vibrant youth centre with a difference. Their exciting activities focus on building confidence and self-esteem, whilst encouraging children and young people to take responsibility for themselves, others and their environment.
In the past, the centre ran projects focused around young women, but due to a lack of funding the women’s project had to be cancelled. The tragic murder of long time member, Leane McNuff, compelled the centre to try and address the real issues around domestic violence amongst the members of the organisation, and also in the local community.
Leanne McNuff, aged 24 was murdered by her ex-partner in front of her four year old son. The centre, and in particular, Lillian Pons, who has worked at the centre for over 30 years, realised how important their work was to building the confidence and self-esteem of young women, thus helping them avoid ending up in violent and unhealthy relationships.
The memory of Leanne McNuff placed new impetus on the importance of tackling these issues and the WAC were determined to get new funding to re-start the women’s project.
How Sported has helped
The Water Adventure Centre secured funding from Sported to deliver weekly kayaking and canoeing sessions alongside youth work for the Girls’ and Young Women’s Night Project. These sessions are supported by workshops and discussions on the real issues these young women face on a daily basis. The support network helps increase emotional well-being, develop good mental health and independence of young females to reduce their chances of being in/staying in a relationship where they will suffer from domestic violence.
Granby Somali Women’s Group (Liverpool)
Granby Somali Women’s Group (GSWG) was established in 1994 following the committed effort of several Somali women’s groups due to the raising influx of refugees from Somalia.
The organisation’s main objective has always been to provide a safe environment for Somali women and children who have been forced to flee their own country due to civil war and famine. However, due to the large influx of BME Communities in Liverpool, the centre has now adapted its ethos with its open door policy and provides services to all women, children and families residing in the Princes Park Ward.
How Sported has helped
In 2013 GSWG project worker, Fatima, approached Sported for help developing a structured sports programme for their young women. A few activities had been run ad-hoc during the summer holidays, but Fatima had some very clear objectives in mind.
Sported placed a volunteer mentor with the group and a football project for girls began to develop.
As Fatima explains: “We’d never run a sports project before, but with our mentor’s help I learnt to write funding bids that were sports-specific. Budgeting for revenue and expenditure for sporting activities was not something I’d attempted before! The support Sported gave us was invaluable. The financial support gave us a kick start but it was the mentoring that really prepared us for running a sport project successfully.”
The project was designed to remove accessibility barriers to sport for Black Muslim young women. GSWG now has a girl’s football team training twice a week, not only improving their health but also their self-esteem and emotional health. It has also meant that the young women are travelling outside their immediate community for matches and interacting with other young women from different backgrounds to themselves.
“In the beginning, the girls were very shy and tended to keep to themselves. As the project has gone on they’ve become more confident in themselves and their abilities. Even the sweets and fizzy drinks have been replaced by water and fruit!”
S Factor Academy (London)
S Factor Academy is the brainchild of Lewisham native Lisa Miller – a former Commonwealth Games Silver medallist. Founded in 2010, S Factor uses high quality athletics coaching as a way of engaging young people in healthy activities and enhancing their life skills.
How Sported has helped
Thanks to Sported’s Sporteducate programme, S Factor has been able to launch a new weekly session at local secondary school, Bonus Pastor Catholic College in Lewisham, to provide educational support to girls from Years 7 through to Year 9 who are underachieving in class.
S Factor’s Sporteducate sessions combine dance and multi-sports to channel the girls’ abundant energy and enthusiasm, followed by one-to-one and group mentoring to address the behavioural issues preventing them from achieving their full potential in class.
Lisa describes the pupils that attend S Factor’s Sporteducate sessions as smart, chatty, energetic, but often misunderstood. Using sport as a way of fostering a fun and supportive atmosphere away from the social pressures found in the classroom, Lisa and her team work to break down barriers, build trusted relationships and change attitudes to learning.
As Lisa explains – to date – the programme has been a resounding success: “We have retained 95% of the female pupils, who have improved in their core subjects. Behaviour and confidence levels have increased which was the whole purpose of setting this up. It’s a great joy to be a part of such an exciting project and we have shown that linking mentoring with fitness and sport has a great impact on school life. Thanks to Sported and Deutsche Bank for providing us with the opportunity to make such a positive impact on pupils’ lives!”
Likewise, Sporteducate’s impact has been widely praised by the girls attending the sessions, as the following quotes testify:
“The dance mentoring sessions have really helped me settle into school and make me feel a part of the place. I have made many new friends and find that the different cultures and styles of dance are interesting. I also feel like I have great support in making sure I always do my best in school.” Flavia (Year 8).
“When I first joined school I used to get into a bit of trouble. Nothing big but I had quite a few arguments. I have talked this through with my mentor and I feel KB gives me something to work towards at school. We are planning a performance in the summer.” Allayah (Year 8).
Urban Fit (Bristol)
Urban Fit was founded by Emma Cochrane in response to a recognised lack of opportunities in the Bristol areas which has led to a number of social problems including anti-social behaviour, drug dealing, teen-pregnancies and gang culture.
The charity aims to boost teenage girls’ confidence through fitness, dance and also deliver schemes to help teenage girls who are victims of sexual exploitation and gang violence
Ayana who volunteers with Urban Fit said: “The girls come because they want to, no one makes them which is really important. They have fun and they enjoy working on a range of projects, something they can be proud of. I am completely voluntary, I don’t get paid for this, but I get as much from the girls as they get from me.”
Urban Fit has been a member of Sported for 1 year now. They currently receive support from a Sported mentor who offers advice on governance, finances, funding and marketing so the club can continue to grow and be sustainable, to offer more opportunities for young women.
The Blair Project (Manchester)
The Blair Project is working to increase participation in grassroots motorsports. As part of its mission to promote greater equality in motorsports, The Blair Project has developed a Girls in Motorsports Project, to help bring through the next generation of female drivers, mechanics and engineers. The project also aims to empower girls and young women through motorsport, as well as using the sport to provide opportunities for learning in the STEM subjects (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Maths)
Marilyn is the director of business development with responsibility for PR and sponsorship. She has been honoured by HRH The Queen in 2009 with an OBE for services to womens’ enterprise.
Sported mentoring has supported the Blair Project with brand development and supporting on a presentation to a key sponsor. The Sported mentor, Tony, also helped review governance and systems around the whole organisation, to ensure they have the right foundations for sustainability and getting the confidence of funders and sponsors.
Tony has made such an impact on the business side of the project, always ensuring the project gets to a sustainable state, as well as having the opportunity to grow, that Marilyn herself stated this was “A great mentoring success story!”