Now is the time – Sport Making a Positive Difference

Part 3:  Identifying your ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ approach

The aim of this blog series is to engage clubs in a new way of thinking about sport whilst they are in period of reflection. This is part 3 of a 4-part blog series targeted at basketball club leaders who have a passion for positively changing lives through sport. In this blog, we will detail why the ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ method is more important than ever before and detail how you could identify and implement your approach.

In Blog 1 we introduced the concept of the ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ approach and encouraged you as a club leader to consider this new way of thinking about sport during this period of reflective time. In Blog 2, we moved to considering how your club would have to adapt to operate effectively using this approach. We detailed small tweaks you could implement to get you started on your journey to ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’.

Communities are going to be faced with accelerated challenges and new issues as we ease out of lockdown. Additionally, organisations such as leisure trusts and gyms will face economical challenges and the mental health importance of our country has never been so prominent. Clubs can play a big role in supporting these challenges, so it has never been a better time to adopt this approach. In Blog 3, we will go onto discuss how you can identify your local challenges and what your club could do to make a positive difference to people’s lives.


Communities in Need

Communities may face new challenges as lockdown restrictions are eased, whilst at the same time, issues existing prior to COVID-19 may have accelerated.  It is great that you have good intentions to work in the ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ area, but any project must work for the community’s people. Therefore, getting to understand your community before designing a project is really important. If you want to sell your project to a community or a funder, you will need a robust reason for doing that work in your community. Fortunately, it is not a difficult process to understand your community and there are resources out there ready to use.

I always start with looking at local community plans. They tend to be called a variety of things but are not too difficult to find after a quick Google. In a city, they may split up plans into different areas. Edinburgh is a great example, where they have Neighbourhood Locality Plans for each region. A recent basketball example of analysing a Neighbourhood Locality Plan comes from Boroughmuir Blaze. The club had identified they wanted to extend their reach into the Liberton/Gilmerton area. Assessing the local plan, they identified a mutually beneficial opportunity. The club has mental health expertise and one of the standout issues identified from the Liberton/Gilmerton locality plan was the deteriorating mental and physical health of its people. The club were able to attract funding by designing and launching activity to support overcoming this specific local issue whilst delivering basketball. This later translated to new paying members joining the club. Referring to Blog 2, the club could argue this ‘Social Impact’ activity also has ‘Cash-Cow’ benefit where the club generates income from the programme.

As discussed in Blog 2, you may start by doing some of the small things, by offering those strapped for cash reduced rates. In an economic decline currently being faced, this will be more of a prominent issue than ever. You could offer reduced cost activity in certain locations where you know there is financial hardship. The Social Index of Multiple Deprivation website is a great source to identify these communities.

But websites and local plans on paper can only tell you so much. Mental health may be on the piece of paper as a key issue. Though, what they do not tend go into is the chain of events which result in declining mental health. An example of this chain reaction could be that the root issue is a lack of employability options, which leads to a lack of home provisions, leading to family worries and then mental health issues. So, could your club offer employment or even some leadership opportunities to allow people to develop those employability skills? You will not know this unless you get out there and do some local research by asking local people and local organisations. Additionally, COVID-19 may have brought on new local issues which are not yet documented.

Mental Health

COVID-19 is placing several additional pressures on the population’s mental health. People may be experiencing increased feelings of anxiety, low mood, or loneliness and some will need additional support at this time. If your club sets up the appropriate environment, your club can support people in overcoming their mental health issues.

When the time is right, simply bringing people together, in a relaxed environment where they can trust and speak to others can provide a valuable support service. If you are anything like me, you are more aware than ever how social interactions have benefitted your wellbeing. But sports clubs could easily get this so wrong by burdening their members with sporting pressures. My advice is for sport clubs to take time to plan, ensuring they get the right environment which stimulates positive mental wellbeing.

The Cost for Sport

It is no secret that sporting organisations across the country are going to face financial challenges. People may want to turn to sport or physical activity who have not before. Some of these reasons have been discussed in this blog. But there may be diminishing sport services across the country. It is anticipated that gyms and local leisure organisations are facing huge financial losses. This may mean closure of some facilities and an increase of their service prices.

Therefore, your basketball club could be what people turn to in order to play sport or participate in physical activity. Your club could be the affordable option people turn too. To aid clubs, turning to membership pricing models which support people who may face financial hardship may be the best approach to ensure people join or continue accessing your club. Again, referring to Blog 2, your club may wish to utilise the ‘Buy One, Give One’ or ‘Robin Hood’ options.

The Real Time Example – Boroughmuir Blaze Basketball Club

In this blog series, we are profiling a basketball club for the first time. Hear here how Boroughmuir Blaze started operating activities in a new area of Edinburgh through a ‘Changing Lives Through Sport’ methodology. Listen how their service will be more important than ever before.


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