Sporting Communities, Community Interest Company – Written evidence (NPS0012)


Sporting Communities is an ethical non-for-profit Community Interest Company that has been operating since 2012. We are a community development organisation with four particular strands of delivery: Sporting Communities, Creative Communities, Sustaining Communities and Supporting Communities. All these elements come together to provide a holistic offer to community groups who are at the heart of the organisation’s delivery aims and philosophy. The work to date the midlands has gone from strength to strength, building services, relationships with partners and collaborative initiatives which has made ourselves more visual and rooted, an and therefore trusted provider of services within this region.


  1. How can local delivery, including funding structures, of sport and recreation be improved to ensure that people of all ages and abilities are able to lead an active lifestyle? For example, how successfully do local authorities and other bodies such as Active Partnerships, Leisure Trusts, local sports clubs and charities work together, and how might coordination be improved?

It has become evident over recent years that funding available for sports and recreation that actually reaches the grassroots delivery has diminished. Many small sports and recreation organisations operate voluntary, often hand to mouth where goodwill is the only currency they have. Funding that has been devolved from central government into local authorities rarely filters down in any sizable sums to the front line, therefore there is inevitable lack noticeable change or increased output at a community level.

We understand the challenges of devolution of large funding sums however consideration on how that money is administered and where it is applied is critical for any significant lifestyle outcomes. The decision makers at government office need to be less risk averse and put trust in the voluntary sector, this is essential if we are to see increase in activity happening at the sector level. Particular sports such as cricket as an example is often overlooked in most secondary schools, the barriers often being cultural and elitism so having access to reach a wider audience relies on a ‘street cricket’ model often through voluntary led sports organisations to allow for the interest to grow and flourish into club sport. It is this deeper engagement grass roots intervention which is relevant to communities which is needs the investment to increase participation and change culture.

A fresh and more cost efficient  approach would be that any devolved monies from central government should come directly to voluntary sector delivery organisations through a series of voluntary led regional consortiums ( Play consortium, Sport Consortium Older people’s health and wellbeing consortium etc) made up of smaller and mid-sized voluntary organisations who have the responsibility and capacity with regards to the distribution of funding but retains the local authority as an equal but advisory role  partner only. We are seeing this change happen to the youth sector where in Derby City Council we have coordinated a voluntary led Youth Alliance leading on change and co designing a strategy on behalf of the local authority.

The Derby City Youth Alliance (YA) is an innovative collaborative approach between the VCSE (Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise) sector and Derby City Council (DCC) it is a co-designing partnership based on insight and is intelligence led. The aim of this proposal is to support the Serious Youth Violence Strategy through the provision of highly engaging, positive activities that focus on social and community development reduce the vulnerability of and improve the life chances of young people in Derby. We believe that this will enable the city to overcome serious challenges, at the most difficult time of most young people’s lives. We want to see a city where young people are thriving regardless of circumstances.

Local Context





Outcomes (MT)

Outcomes (LT)


Population size

There are 59,500 children and young people (aged 18 and under) in Derby. 25% live in low- income families.


Social Mobility

Derby is ranked 55th out of 326 authorities in terms of deprivation and is ranked 303rd out of 324 districts on the Social Mobility Index.


Youth Violence

Reports suggest that 67% of the population have at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE). Those who experience 4 or more adverse childhood experiences are at a significantly greater risk of the following (Bellis et al 2012). In 2017/18, the estimated cost of violent crime to Derby city was approximately £224,719,567.00 (Derby city council, 2018). The information below is extracted from the Public Health England fingertips profiles (2019). In 2017/18, there were 5,190 violent offences in the local population, which equates to a rate of 20.3 per 1,000. This is significantly lower than the national average, but significantly higher than the regional average. Recent trends indicate that this has increased since 2013/14.



Overall, Derby’s educational performance is improving but remains weak. Derby is ranked 124th nationally for KS1 reading standards and there is widespread underperformance in mathematics and English at both the primary and secondary schools. Generally, results at primary (key stage 2) and secondary (key stage 4) are below the national average. Disadvantaged children and those for whom English is an additional language, are especially vulnerable and Derby’s children face increasing problems in speech and language development. NEET rates are high in Derby. Anti-social behaviour in the city and 1st time entrants to the Youth Justice System (10-17-year old’s) are also significantly higher than national average.


Health and Wellbeing

Mental health and wellbeing are a significant issue in Derby. Prevalence of children’s mental and emotional disorders are higher than national averages. 2.3% of primary school pupils and 3% of secondary school pupils have social, emotional and mental health needs

23% of Derby children are overweight or obese in Year 6. Higher than the national average. 25% of the Derby population aged 16+ are inactive.




Although difficult to quantify, it is reported that too many children and young people in Derby do not have access to high quality cultural/life experiences that will help them to engage in learning, achieve at school and make informed decisions about their future. (Derby Opportunity Area Delivery Plan)




The key members of the YA include:

  • Sporting Communities
  • Derby County Community Trust
  • Children First Derby
  • Safe&Sound
  • Derby Cultural Education Partnership


The YA is also supported by:

  • DCC
  • Community Action Derby
  • Active Derbyshire
  • Derby Homes
  • Derbyshire OPCC
  • Derbyshire Police
  • Derby City Sport Forum
  • Metropolitan Housing
  • Derby University



   Derby Police


   Derby Homes

   Metropolitan Housing

   Any others



Priority wards:







Delivery Partner

The YA will deliver elements of the programme and also use AAP to deliver where appropriate.



Person centred:

  • Early Intervention Mentoring,
  • Intensive Mentoring
  • Group Mentoring


Family centred:

  • Family Support­


Placed based:

  • Detached youth work
  • Community Reassurance
  • Diversionary Activities



Partnership Capacity

  Partnership governance documents

  Partnership meetings

  Level of investment into organisational delivery

  Level of external organisations engaged with in support of staff and volunteers 


Organisational Delivery

  •                               Each organisation has specific priority area programmes delivered by specialism required to meet the needs

  Sessions delivered - delivery hours

  Artists coaches and mentors deployed

  Volunteers deployed


Participation Outputs

  Participants engaged

  Participants attending from targeted groups in danger of becoming involved in Serious Youth Violence

  Participants with SEN

  Participants attending by gender

  Participants attending by BAME group

  Participants with a disability

  Participants engaged who are inactive

  Participants at risk of offending

  NEET participants

  Excluded/at risk of exclusion from education

  With specific health / wellbeing issues




Partnership Development

  Partners intend to work in partnership going forward to increase the Alliances effectiveness

  Partners demonstrate improved knowledge on understanding of other partners ways of working increasing efficiencies

  Partners have increased confidence to adopt a shared way of working

  Partners are committed to continuing delivering a diverse range of programmes to support the young people within Derby

  Increased investment into the youth sector specifically surrounding Family support, Early Intervention and Intensive mentoring, Community reassurance, Diversionary activities



Embedding the Partnership

  Measured sustained involvement in the partnership from the identified organisations

  Commitment from all partners to the new way of working to support the serious youth violence strategy

  Coordinated way partners deliver services to participants

  Raised ambition within the city for cross-sector working to support the serious youth violence strategy

  Ambition across the city to embrace a new approach to service delivery

  Increased investment into the partnership

  Strong communication channels within and across partners

   Young people involved in the design and delivery of specific partnership activities



New Collaborative ways of Working Embedded across Derby

  The city has fully embraced a new way of partnership working to support the Serious Youth Crime Strategy

  Sustained young people’s partnerships operational across the city through the youth Alliance approach

  The Partnership has become embedded within the plans and strategies for the city acting as a collaborative solution

  Partners no longer working in isolation from each other or each other’s agenda

  A commitment to shared resources between partners to maximise efficiencies





Realising Potential

A community where everyone is has a collective responsibility towards each other and a place where communities can thrive under a spirt of cooperation. We want to create a culture where we challenge behaviour but also support communities with early intervention strategies which provide alternative pathways asway from serious youth violence

We want to create communities of interest whereby young people become confident individuals, effective change and promote responsible citizenship. We support resilience and coping strategies for young people, so they become agents for change and contributors to their community’s wellbeing.             




Participants Potential

  Development of pathways for access into programmes that support the reduction in Serious Youth Violence

  Development of pathways from intervention into support programmes and nurture programmes that help to de-escalate tensions

  Participants in engaged in activities that provide opportunities for personal growth and self-realisation

  Number of new opportunities supported that improve physical and mental wellbeing increasing participation

  Participants in activities that reduce the risk of ASB, offending or re-offending

  Participants in activities that raise awareness of the factors contributing community cohesion


Realising Potential

  Participants wellbeing has improved

  Participants making active participation in the development of programmes

  Improvements in behaviour attributable to work with young people

  Participants avoiding exposure to negative behaviours resulting in serious youth violence

  Improved social mixing, more cohesive communities  

  Improved community provision and opportunities

  Increase in participates making active community contributions




Stronger, Safer and more Resilient Communities

Provide young people with the resource’s life skills and choices so they are a in a position whereby they can contribute back into their community.

Creation of a community which supports each other and embraces diversity and promotes both equality and equity.

All residents encouraged feel empowered to, shape and contribute to the communities in which they live










External Factors

        Investment and resources provided to the sector

        Programmes delivered by YA and AAP


        Partnership influence locally, regionally and nationally


By adopting this type of voluntary led process, the responsibility for meeting the priorities would be in the hands of the delivery organisations and each consortium body would report through the local authority on their specific theme in detail. The added benefit would be that more money and investment would go to greater numbers of grass roots provision and the administrative savings would also mean that the money allocated would reach further.

How can children and young people be encouraged to participate in sport and recreation both at school and outside school, and lead an active lifestyle? If possible, share examples of success stories and good practice, and challenges faced.

Our organisation has for decades been delivering community-based activities and free holiday provision which encourages healthy lifestyles and physical activity naturally. We have also worked extensively within school settings changing culture surrounding playtime, promoting lunchtime play as a way of recruiting young people as ‘Play Pals’ into playing traditional activities which have been since lost in the fragile world of the playground.

We have delivered holiday play schemes at scale which provide not only a safe space for children to play locally in their community utilising local resources but also, it provides reassurance to communities that their children are safe and supported by bona fide organisation and encourages the notion of children ‘being seen and heard’

By delivering Open Access ‘Free Play’ play services we are not only encouraging young people to enjoy their immediate environment and physical play outside, but also were encouraging those parents to become active participants in their children’s play nurturing volunteering and training at a community level, again changing culture and behaviour at its core. We have gained a reputation regionally and nationally as experts in this type of delivery and training which we have the capacity to operate nationally if required. Please find the link which illustrates the work that we do currently.

We have been recognised through children and young people’s now publication in the national winners of the Play award and also, we feature in an international publication called common threats in our work in relation to holiday provision poverty and health and well-being.

  1. How can adults of all ages and backgrounds, particularly those from under-represented groups, including women and girls, ethnic minorities, disabled people, older people, and those from less affluent backgrounds, be encouraged to lead more active lifestyles? If possible, share examples of success stories and good practice, and challenges faced.

Free Open Access play schemes provide opportunities for ‘all communities’ to come together, this encourages adult participation in children’s play and also provides a vehicle for social interaction within communities, so they become more connected to each other. What happens in these circumstances is parents often pass on knowledge of their childhood experiences in play and activity to their children this then becomes a natural occurring phenomenon that happens within communities when there's an opportunity for children and families to play together. Many neighbourhoods do not have open space however street play of which we have developed over many years whereby at certain times of the day cars become the guest within the community and the space then becomes available for children and the community to socialise outside their front door.

The benefits of health are not just physical, it is emotional, the sense of belonging and connectivity of people living in close proximity is paramount with regards to community cohesion. All the work that we deliver focuses end on low socio-economic areas where resources are minimal demographics tensions exist, but the enthusiasm and appetite for activity is in abundance. Please see the link to the BBC article we were featured in, something which we have shared with Marcus Rashford to help him understand the more complex nature of food poverty linked to healthy lifestyle choices.

Please find attached an evaluation of a series of projects which demonstrate inclusivity and diversity in our community-based work

  1. Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation, the Government’s 2015 sports strategy, outlines five outcome priorities: physical health, mental health, individual development, social and community development and economic development. Are these the right priorities and how successful has the government been in measuring and delivering these outcomes to date?

We believe that these are the right priorities to focus in on relation to the strategy. What would be really interesting through the government's perspective is to focus on examples at a community level which demonstrate how these thematical areas are being implemented and where the successes lie. This will give an indicator to the government as regards to how effective strategies are and how they are implemented at a community level. What a key solution is creating a willing culture. This takes time and investment and consistency, something we as a society fail to realise is the only way to change people’s mindset. We need to change our mindset as responsible institutions before we decide to change the mindset of others which is probably the root cause of why things have not progressed as you would have expected them to.

  1. Is government capturing an accurate picture of how people participate in sport and recreation activities in its data collection? How could this be improved?

As mentioned above the government could look at club level or small organisations as case studies across the nation which would build up a real authentic picture of what participate re activities are commonplace and effective.

  1. How can racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and ableism in sport be tackled?

Prejudice on all levels should be seen as non-negotiable. It's important that all organisations whether it's at a local authority level or at a club level have robust policies and process is in place to address the issues openly. It requires for organisations have within their philosophy an openness and transparency with the scope to educate and challenge to bring about change. Leadership is paramount and the consistent messaging has to come from the top and reinforced rigorously. leadership should also be representative with regards to all aspects of society without it being seen as tokenism, so there needs to be a focus in on training and nurturing opportunities encouraging openness and removing any fears or anxiety's which might deter people from entering into those roles.

  1. What can be done to improve and implement effective duty of care and safeguarding standards for sports and recreation actives at all levels?

In local authorities many have safeguarding training which is free and accessible to all. Although simplistic, language matters it would be very interesting and significant if the safeguarding training that's available has a specific emphasis on sports and recreation as this would focus in on one particular industry. By labelling it as a ‘Sports club safeguarding course’ it then becomes in the culture of sports practitioners as integral part of their operations.

  1. Should there be a national plan for sport and recreation? Why/why not?

We think there should be a national plan for sports and recreation but within that plan there is also a detailed regional plan with mapping of provision and deficits to ensure that investment can be prioritised surgically across the nation. It is also important to ensure that it becomes mandatory in every organisation that promotes sport that they work towards the delivery of that plan and can demonstrate that they are delivering on priorities to qualify for any funding assistance.

16 January 2021