We’re teaming up with National Charity SportInspired and Serge Besten Rugby to deliver a range of sport and development programmes - to help London’s most deprived children get more active and combat the impacts of COVID-19 on their mental and physical health.
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, and families living in the UK’s most deprived communities have struggled with less space for exercise and increasing food insecurity. And for months, schools have been forced to cut down sports fixtures and extra curricular activities as a result of social distancing and lockdown measures.
Children living in the top 20% of deprivation in London are disproportionately affected. Sport England, delivery partner of SportInspired, found that over lockdown 2.3 million children were doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a day.
"The consequences of deprivation on the families we work with has been severely exacerbated by the pandemic. Enjoying sport helps children to develop the requisite skills and behaviours for a happy, fulfilled life, and so our programmes are more important than ever."
Working with SportInspired to deliver sports-based development programmes, our shared mission is to help children and young people to discover a sport they love. Across Merton, Tower Hamlets and Redbridge, the sport development programmes will engage up to 600 children in the areas where we are developing with sports clubs, programmes and festivals in the coming months.
We will also be offering training and sports leadership qualifications to 75 young adults, so they can get involved with delivering the sports clubs and festivals whilst building their own employability skills.
As part of these sports programmes, we are partnering with Serge Betsen Rugby, formed by sports icon and professional rugby player, Serge Betsen. Their mission is to instil a lifelong passion for sports and wellbeing, get children active and teach them the value of sports for their health and personal development.
“Serge Betsen Rugby is about a legacy. Much more than just a game, rugby has given me the tools I need to succeed both on and off the pitch. I truly believe that giving children a rugby ball and getting them to play can really change their mindset.”
SportInspired have been hosting virtual sports classes and activities with schools throughout the current lockdown, reformulating their programmes to adapt to the restrictions and maximise the children's safety and enjoyment.
These will be shifting to live events once the lockdown restrictions ease and outdoor sports are permitted. We hope to launch the first Festivals of Sport over the summer months, providing that these can be operated in line with government guidelines.
“We want to be a driver toward lasting change in the communities we work in, and these partnerships allow us to play a part in developing the futures of young people at a real time of need. The impact created by the programme is really tangible on a local level, which is something that is hugely important to us.”
We are looking forward to seeing the difference these initiatives will make for the happiness and wellbeing of children and young people in our local communities.