CashBack School of Basketball – Changing Lives Through Basketball

Intentional Focus, Deeper Impact, Changing Lives Through Basketball

basketballscotland set out in our new strategy to “Change Lives Positively Through Basketball”. Aligned to improving opportunity in areas of deprivation, we have adopted an innovative, targeted and bilateral approach to working with young people in the East End of Glasgow. Basketball coaches and youth workers work extensively with a ‘Core Group’ of young people, whilst also engaging a ‘Wider Group’. The basketball coaches help young people be active and learn life skills through sport and the youth workers support each young person off the court to overcome life’s challenges.  

This focused approach is designed to maximise impact. 48 young people from Lochend High School, St Andrews High School and St Mungo’s Academy form the ‘Core Group’. In addition there is a ‘Wider Group’ who receive on court support. This includes extracurricular sessions during lunchbreak or after school, and fun and exciting sessions to feeder primary schools. The purpose? To ensure if young people join the Core Group, they enter a safe environment where they can flourish due to their love for the sport and the positive and trusting relationships with our staff.  

For our Core Group, we utilise basketball to engage them in activity to improve physical and mental wellbeing and to develop impactful relationships. During and away from the basketball sessions, our dedicated youth workers support each young person to overcome any challenges they face in life. Some of the support we have provided has included: 

  • Supplying food parcels so our young people are fed,  
  • Delivering accredited qualifications in subjects that matter, such as conflict resolution 
  • Delivering knife crime education to reduce anti-social behaviours’ 
  • Drug misuse guidance to educate ‘at risk’ young people with local and new illegal substances.  

Our team work hard to build the trust required to allow them to support the young people and deliver meaningful impact on their lives.  

Three important lessons.

Through trial and error we have learnt there are some important considerations when designing a programme to have the biggest impact possible. 

1. Intentional Staffing 

Playing to an individual’s strengths became an important focus for our staffing. Those with basketball expertise work with the young people on the court, to deliver fun and engaging activity and build relationships with the young people through activity. To compliment this, we employed qualified youth workers to work closely with each individual on matters specific to each young person.  

We intentionally focused our recruitment on Glasgow. Our experience has taught us that local professional people relate to local people better, allowing us to make a greater positive impact.  

An example of this has been our youth worker Jacqueline Anderson. Jacqueline was brought up in the area, harnessed her youth work skills in Easterhouse and has built a fantastic rapport with the young people she works with. This allows her to support young people to overcome their bespoke challenges. 

2. Fruitful Partnerships 

This work is different to anything we have undertaken previously, and we readily admit we could not achieve what we do without some amazing partners. Already we have developed strong partnerships with: SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health); SSF (Scottish Sport Futures); TAP (True Athlete Project); charities and partners working in similar initiatives within the schools; and, importantly, with the three school’s where our team are based. 

SAMH have been working with our young people to support individuals on key issues which are relevant to them, such as anxiety and mental health awareness. The strong partnerships within the schools include pastoral care and other local charities, such as FARE, and the community police. We worked closely with FARE during the pandemic to visit our young people at home and deliver meals to those who needed.  

3. Alternative Venues  

The young people we work with are referred to us because they have been deemed ‘at risk.’ This includes being at risk of low attainment and attendance at school. We have learnt that operating in school can be a barrier to our staff building a trusting and meaningful relationship, the key foundation to making a positive impact on the young people. As a result, we have started operating our programme in alternative community spaces. One such local space is the Phoenix Centre in Easterhouse, a pillar in the local community. Our activities in spaces like these have a direct relation to our successful outcomes – our young people have an increased sense of belonging and a desire to positively influence their community. 

Why this Approach?

Spreading resources across Scotland was diluting the impact we could have. We spent time reflecting and learning from our previous work and took the brave decision to focus our efforts. To have a meaningful, deep and lasting impact, we concentrated on the East End of Glasgow. Only now by being focussed in one area, can we confidently say we are making a significant difference and truly changing people’s lives for the better. 

basketballscotland’s new ‘Changing the Game’ strategy commits to “Change Lives Positively Through Basketball”. There is an intentional focus on areas of deprivation and using sport to bring about positive change in communities. Our approach is to acknowledge the best way to achieve social impact is to take one community at a time and commit extensively in this area. 

Promising Start

The true impact of our work will not be known for some time. However early analysis by an independent evaluator has revealed some encouraging signs: 

Reduction in anti-social behaviour. 97% of our young people are less inclined to participate in, and have reduced their, anti-social behaviour. (This data has a direct correlation to young people moving to positive destinations, rather than being connected to lifelong crime.) 

Pride in their community. 90% of our young people have a heightened sense of belonging to the community and their contributions, links and social interactions with the community are improving. Significantly, 86% of our young people now have increased motivations to positively influence what happens in their community.  

Developing life skills.  100% of our young people now feel more resilient, feel more confident, report positive support network and 97% of them report positive changes in their behaviour.  

As the programme evolves further evidence of the positive impact will emerge. Already we can see our young people now care about their community and want to see it prosper. This increases their likelihood to stay to make it a success, and the community spirit in the East End of Glasgow will be greater. 

Even at this early stage, the future for the young people and the community in the east end of Glasgow looks brighter.