Young people critically affected by cost of living crisis, Sported research finds

By Sported |  19th October 2022

Community sports organisations are warning that the cost of living crisis is damaging access to sport and threatening the vital support it delivers for young people throughout the UK.

In new research for charity Sported, 94% of community sports groups admitted to fears about the impact of cost of living increases on their young people.

Over two-thirds (67%) of the groups expect the crisis will force kids out of participating in activities over the next six months – even when those activities are free. This means tens of thousands of young people will be missing out on sport and physical activity opportunities which play a huge part in their development, helping them deal with a wide range of issues.

45% of the groups are located in the UK’s most deprived areas where sport plays a vital role in combating key social issues such as youth violence, mental health issues and knife crime and in making a real difference in the daily lives of some of the UK’s most marginalised people.

With groups facing increased costs from venue hire and energy bills, many fear for their group’s long-term viability. 72% of community sports groups have already been forced into changes to offset the impact of cost of living increases. This includes reducing membership fees, offering fewer sessions per week, or reducing the number of young people that can take part.

75% of groups expect their costs to go up by 50% on average. 51% of community groups need between £1,000 – £9,999 to support their cost of living priorities over the next six months but almost 50% reported a drop in financial support (such as from local businesses, trusts and foundations) for their vital work in the community. 

Given that the majority of groups survive on less than £10,000 per year, this funding shortfall could prove critical to their survival.

Almost half of groups (43%) are concerned about young people and families being unable to afford activities. Other notable concerns included how the crisis will affect young people’s mental health (19%), and food insecurity (19%).

Sported ambassador, the Spurs and England footballer Eric Dier, visited Rap-Aid Youth Football Club in north London this week to see for himself the positive impact that being part of a community sports group has on young people but also to hear the challenges that the cost-of-living crisis has brought.

Eric Dier explained: “My visit to Rap-Aid was inspirational but also sobering. I’m very grateful to the group leaders and the young people I met for sharing their stories with me and it revealed how much the cost of living crisis has already impacted them. Young people desperately need community sports groups like Rap-Aid. It opens up so many opportunities that they all fully deserve. I am very concerned at what the next few months will bring and the lasting impacts this crisis will leave and I would urge people to do what they can to help keep the doors of these groups open.”


Nicola Walker, chief executive of Sported, explains: “It is a really difficult time to be a young person growing up in the UK right now. Covid-19 has already disproportionately affected the most disadvantaged members of society, widening inequalities, and creating a time bomb in terms of mental health. The cost of living crisis will only exacerbate this.

“I know just how responsible our community groups feel for helping young people and many groups feel they are letting them down at a time when they most need help. I am alarmed that many groups will be forced to reduce their sessions or even close, which would have terrible lasting impact on young people and their local communities.”

12-year-old Anil trains at Rap-Aid several times a week. He explained why he enjoys going to the club.

 “This club is very important to me because I learn so much from it – being very good at football, being very disciplined. It helps me with my mental health and feel both physically and mentally strong. It makes me feel really happy being part of this team.”

Grassroots sports groups are the cornerstone of their community. They not only provide safe and affordable access to sport and physical activity but the trusted environment offered also has a deep, long-lasting impact on young people.

Sported wants to ensure that all young people can continue to access the benefits of community sport through the current crisis, as well as enabling all groups to have equal access to affordable, sustainable and safe facilities.

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