Waiting for the storm to pass

By Emily North East Manager |  19th  May 2020

In the last four years working as Sported North East Regional Manager, what I’ve found is that each and every member is on their own journey and experiences things differently, regardless of how much they share with other members around vales and support needs.

Sported members response to the Coronavirus has been no different.

Over the last few months, I’ve heard the media saying that ‘we are all in the same boat’, but I don’t believe that. We are in the same ‘storm’ but not in the same boat.

Where you have two clubs that have stopped delivering activity; one is in a safe place where they can ride out the storm, the other has bills to pay and no reserves, therefore are at risk of closure and becoming shipwrecked.

During April, we spoke to over 100 members in the North East; checking in with them and offering support. When speaking to members, I’ve tried to listen and accept that they are in different boats right now and experiencing the rough sea in different ways.

We’ve also been collecting information from our members through our Community Pulse survey

(find out more here). This has allowed us to gain immediate feedback from over 700 organisations across the UK.


Unsurprisingly, members have reported high levels of anxiety; an average of 5.1 on a scale of 0 to 10. (Compared to the UK benchmark of 2.9 in 2019). The average was as high as 6.5 in the first few days of lockdown but is now declining. (figure 1)


1 in 4 community groups aren’t sure that they’ll be around in 6 months (previous surveys of our members indicated this was 1 in 5).

Although their experiences differ, overall, groups are looking for the same kinds of support.


Figure 2 summarises members’ current support needs (more detail here.)

57% want to know about funding opportunities, 46% need support with fundraising and 37% say they need emergency funding. Other emerging needs are in engaging participants virtually and recovery planning.

In the same way that each organisation has experienced the storm differently, each will emerge in their own unique way.

Sported’s role, as with any infrastructure support organisation in the community and voluntary sector, is simple – to be there for these groups and to ride out the storm with them.

The trust we’ve built through our relationships with our members has enabled us to really listen to what they need and adapt our services accordingly.

Since the end of March, using the data we’ve received from the Community Pulse we’ve:

– run weekly webinars on topics including emergency fundraising, governance, preparing for the “new normal”, corporate fundraising and sponsorship and getting more girls active – with more scheduled over the coming weeks

– produced additional online resources including topics such as video conferencing, online safeguarding and marketing

– sent additional mailings including up-to-date emergency funding bulletins

– set up 60 one-to-one placements with Sported volunteers

The speed in which this has been turned around by the Sported team has been no mean feat.  As always, members are at the heart of everything we do.

For all groups and organisations in the voluntary and community sector right now, the storm will pass.  Activity will start again and what we learn from this will pave the way for the future for many charities, community and voluntary groups in the Sport for Development sector and beyond.

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