Sported releases latest 'Pulse' findings from its network of community groups

By Sported |  26th April 2022

Today, Sported publishes the findings from its latest Pulse survey, a biannual survey into the sustainability, needs and ambitions of community groups throughout the UK.

Some of the major concerns the groups are currently experiencing are connected with the increased cost of living and challenges connected to mental health. It is evident that some groups still face difficulties with reengaging young people and as a result have not returned to pre-pandemic capacity. The groups also highlight the fact that they are most comfortable with tackling inequalities around women and girls and least in tackling issues relating to the LGBTQ+ community.

Cost of living

Perhaps unsurprisingly, concern around the impact of cost of living is very high. The Pulse survey shows that there are consistently high levels of concern about the impact of cost-of-living increases on organisations across all areas of multiple deprivation.

Concern around the impact on young people is very high among groups working in the lowest 30% and middle 30% of areas of multiple deprivation. For groups working in the highest four deciles of deprivation, concern levels remain high but are reduced.

Despite the fact that many groups run on a shoestring, almost two thirds of groups (64%) have responded to the cost-of-living increase by making a change to their operation. The most frequently made changes have been to provide free membership for their young people (47%) and to reduce fees for their young people (36%).

Some of the key challenges that young people are facing in the community at this time echo these financial worries. Concerns around poverty (22%) and not enough money (17%), which in turn affects young people’s ability to access opportunities for sport and physical activity, were also major challenges facing young people according to groups. These concerns have increased since our last Pulse.

In October 2021, 11% of respondents identified poverty as the most significant challenge facing young people in their community, with 14% citing not enough money.

Mental health

Mental health remains the most significant challenge that groups report young people are facing in their communities.

30% of responses from groups included concerns about mental health, a 3% increase from our October 2021 Pulse.

Respondents reported lower scores for their young people’s mental health in comparison to their own and that of their group’s volunteers/staff – an average of 6.5 (out of 10) for young people compared with 7.6 and 7.3 for respondents and volunteers/staff respectively.

Participation levels

The participation levels were badly affected by the Covid pandemic and seem not to have fully recovered. The majority of groups have participation levels below capacity and there are indications that participation has not recovered to pre-Covid 19 levels – 74% of groups are running below capacity, of which more than half (56%) report levels being reduced from pre-pandemic levels.

Tackling Inequalities

Sported’s groups work within complex local contexts, often tackling some of society’s biggest challenges.

When thinking about tackling inequalities, groups are most confident in their knowledge of the challenges facing women and girls (80% are extremely or fairly confident in this area).

Confidence is lowest with regard to knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues: 21% of groups are not that confident, or not confident at all in their knowledge of the challenges in this area. There is a noticeably higher proportion of groups that are not sure about their knowledge of LGBTQ+ issues (32%).

The Community Pulse is a longitudinal study of Sported members on the sustainability, needs and ambitions of community groups throughout the UK. It aims to inform the sport for development sector about the issues and opportunities facing community sports groups, as well as increasing awareness of funding and resources available for such organisations. It also seeks to help stakeholders make more informed decisions in relation to grassroots community sport in the UK.

Between 21-28 March 2022, 363 survey responses were received from groups in Sported’s network. 49% of responses were from groups in the lowest 30% areas of multiple deprivation.

This research builds on Community Pulse consultations throughout 2020 and 2021.

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