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About the organisation

Over the last 20 years Access Sport has been transforming underserved children and young people’s lives through sport. We have made a huge difference to thousands of young people’s lives through training, equipping and supporting community sports clubs and volunteers to provide inclusive programmes for disabled and or disadvantaged children and young people, unleashing potential to better support young people in their local communities. This work is either place based (Changing Places) or sport based (Changing Sports) All the clubs we work with are invited to join our Inclusive Club Network. Current Changing Places locations we work in include: London, Bristol, Oxford, Manchester, Birmingham and Sheffield. Current Nationwide sports based programmes include: Cycling, Basketball, Hockey, Tennis, and Rugby. We then use expertise gained from this work to effect system wide change.

We believe that no one should be excluded from the transformational benefits of community sport. The benefits we focus on are: better physical and mental health and well-being, improved personal development including life skills/ prospects, a stronger sense of belonging, and increased community engagement.

Last year we supported more than 20,500 young people in this way, 581 clubs, trained and supported 1,149 coaches and volunteers and 1,094 young people took part in our Young Leaders development programme.

Organisation’s objectives

At Access Sport we believe that no one should be excluded from the transformational benefits of community sport. We aim to ensure disabled and disadvantaged young people, who typically do not meet the Chief Medical Officer’s daily recommendation for exercise, have the opportunity to thrive. We focus our work on the most underserved populations, including disabled young people, those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, ethnically diverse young people and female participants.

The benefits we focus on are: better physical and mental health and wellbeing, improved personal development including life skills and prospects, a stronger sende of belonging and increased community engagement. Extensive monitoring and evaluation of all our programmes demonstrates the difference made to the young people we serve. We also regularly conduct research to investigate barriers faced by young people, so that we can ensure our programmes best meet the needs of those taking part. Access Sport’s Youth Board, a diverse group of young people aged 16-25 directly feed into the decision making process at Trustee Board to ensure we remain relevant and on course.

About the project

Access Sport’s Disability Inclusion Programme London

Disabled young people across the UK often face shockingly high levels of inequality, isolation and poor health.  Despite the recognised benefits to health and wellbeing, many disabled young people are denied the opportunity to part in sports activities. Access Sport works by training, supporting and connecting local volunteer champions so that they can build inclusive clubs that sustainably support disabled children and young people week-in, week-out. This unleashes the potential of community sports organisations to transform more disabled young people’s lives through sport, whilst developing and strengthening their local communities.

Access Sport’s Disability Inclusion project supported by PHF aimed to create new, sustainable opportunities for 500 disabled children and young people in South East London.  Thanks to the £25,000 funding received, we were able to support six new clubs in Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark to develop clubs. One of these clubs The Bridge Active Play is going from strength to strength and sessions are still continuing today.

Access Sport developed the Bridge Active Play sessions collaboratively with local community providers. The aim was to make the playground more accessible for disabled children. We initially worked with the group to deliver an intensive holiday camp during the Easter holidays in April 2021. Families with children aged 0-8 who have complex disabilities were invited to take part in different activities across the week, trying many sports such as yoga, dance and multi-sports for the first time. Family feedback from the week, showed that regular weekly sessions were needed and these were created for the summer term. Each week, sessions alternate between dance and multi-sports. Activities are for the whole family including siblings. This has created a community of over 60 families that regularly attend. One parent commented:

“My daughter loves coming to the Bridge Active Play Sessions. There aren’t many places she can go in a walker, and none where she can play with her friends. Everyone at the bridge has made us feel welcome and the coaches are lots of fund. It also makes me really happy to meet other families, and see all the children, siblings and families having fun together.”

We continue to build on the work, that was made possible by PHF’s support and are now working in nine London Boroughs, and in other locations across the UK supporting thousands of young people each year and ensuring that as many as possible are able to flourish in multiple aspects of their development.

Impact of PHF’s support

Thanks to the funding from the Peter Harrison Foundation we were able to support 748 disabled young people and their siblings in South East London to take part in activities at six clubs over the two year period. In this time We also trained and supported 150 coaches and volunteers, to deliver sustainable activities for disabled young people.

How does your organisation exemplify PHF’s values?

Access Sport very closely aligns with PHF’s values of Excellence, Entrepreneurship, Integrity and Sustainability.

We demonstrate Excellence through rigorously measuring and evaluating impact of our programmes and development goals. This year we have conducted two important National research programmes: One to understand the barriers faced by teenage girls to taking part in sports and the second to understand the importance of building community through community sports activities. This research showed us that 64% of disabled teenage girls do not participate as much as they would like in sports activities, and over half asked for more accessible opportunities, making it clear there is more work for us to do. Our building stronger communities research showed that 95% of young people made strong friendships with their peers at their Access Sport Club, with many reporting strong feelings of being accepted and supported. We are dedicated to sharing evidence based best practice through our Inclusive Club Network which has over 360 member clubs. We have also launched our Manifesto for change, highlighting the five key changes we would like to effect as whole system change.

We take an entrepreneurial approach to our work, with innovative and agile programme design to appeal to the most underserved young people, who are less likely to already take part in community sports activities. We set targets to work with more disabled young people, female participants, and collaborate with organisations who work with our target audiences such as ethnically diverse populations. We work in areas with high levels of deprivation but making sure our activities are accessible as possible through public transport. We strive to be flexible and responsive to emerging needs to ensure long term success and sustained impact.

Integrity is a key value at Access Sport we strive to be transparent and accountable for the work we do. We maintain robust Governance and financial management practices. We openly share reports with all funders and interested stakeholders. As thought leaders, we widely disseminate research findings and best practice across the sports for development sector to ensure as many people as possible can benefit from our work avoiding the need for replication of efforts and so creating positive social change.

Sustainability is a key part of the work we do at Access Sport. We are in a period of growth as an organisation aiming to reach 50,000 young people a year by 2027. To ensure we have the funds available to this we have a robust fundraising strategy in place. We support the clubs we work with to be sustainable and give guidance and advice on how this can be achieved long term. All clubs are invited to join our Inclusive Club Network so that they can continue to receive support as and when needed. We also consider sustainability from an environmental perspective; we have a role to play both as an organisation and with the community clubs we work with. We have an Environmental Strategy and committee in place and we are a supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and an affiliate member of British Association of Sustainability in Sports (BASIS).