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Inspiring young people through sport in Basilson

Sports Connections Foundation (SCF), the children’s charity that uses sport to support and inspire vulnerable and disadvantaged young people has received a £10,000 grant from the National Lottery Fund which will enable them to support hundreds of school children in Basildon. Across the world, it is recognised that inspiring young people through sport provides numerous benefits for disadvantaged young people. SCF is delighted to receive the funding that will help them deliver their ‘Inspire through Sport’ programme in the Essex town.

From September, the charity will partner with the CRESCO Multi Academy Trust which incorporates three Basildon primary schools; Great Berry Primary, Janet Duke Primary and Noak Bridge Primary to offer important mentoring schemes, sports camps, and enrichment activities through its ‘Inspire Through Sport’ programme. The charity’s support will help reduce the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, with research highlighting that children and young people in some areas of the UK have felt increasingly isolated and displaced over the course of the past year.

Inspiring young people through sport will help build up self-esteem, resilience, confidence and develop important new skills for children in a region that has one of the highest child poverty numbers in the UK, whilst also making them more included into the wider community giving them new opportunities and experiences and route out of poverty.

Basildon is one of the worst affected areas for child poverty in Essex and in the top 10 for towns suffering the most with child poverty in the UK.

The figures regarding child poverty are worsening across the county, with the latest data from the Department of Work and Pensions showing that 64,003 children were living below the breadline in March 2019, up from 54,569 in 2015. The number of children living in poverty are over 33 per cent in 8 areas in Essex, with three of these being in Basildon, including Crays Hill, where 45 per cent of children are living in a working family with less than 60 per cent of the national average income.

Damien Pye, Headteacher at Great Berry Primary School Academy & CEO of CRESCO Multi Academy Trust said;

 “Within the town of Basildon are areas and schools where a high percentage of the pupils come from disadvantaged families. The grant will help benefit the children of these families enormously, whose issues have unfortunately been compounded by the recent pandemic and lockdown periods. SCF will now be able to provide memorable experiences for children that simply would not have otherwise had access to these opportunities.”

Karen Olden, Income and Engagement Manager at Sports Connections Foundation, added:

 “We have been delivering our ‘Inspire through sport’ programmes across the UK for over ten years and have witnessed the incredible impact the activities and support can have on young people, particularly for some of the most vulnerable. We are delighted to receive this funding boost from the National Lottery and are looking forward to working in partnership with the CRESCO Multi Academy Trust. The past year has been tough for many and schools across the country are under significant pressure to ensure the long-term effects of the pandemic are minimal for students. With mental health and social isolation concerns on the increase, using sport to positively engage with young people can make a real difference.”

Pupil receives football boots as part of the Inspire Through Sport mentoring programmeLast month a year 5 pupil from Great Berry Primary was presented with a pair of signed football boots donated by Gwion Edwards, former Winger for Ipswich Town and now with Wigan Athletic. The 10-year-old was thrilled when he was presented with the boots and a thank you card as an acknowledgement of his own resilience shown during lockdown. He had taken part in a Q&A session earlier this year with Gwion. The session, led by Gwion, was organised as part of our Inspire Through Sport mentoring programmes, and the pupils were encouraged to talk about how they have shown resilience throughout lockdown, and they were praised for working so hard during this difficult time, as well as exploring aspirations that they have for the future

About Sports Connections Foundation

Sports Connections Foundation was founded by former professional footballer Junior McDougald in 2010 with the aim of using sport to inspire children and as an exit route for troubled and vulnerable young people. Junior’s personal story was one in which sport provided the opportunity for him to overcome his family’s struggle with poverty, his relocation into foster care, and his mother’s time in prison.

Junior McDougald said “Sport was my passion, and it gave me a range of benefits; it encouraged me to exercise, helped with my mental health and wellbeing, enabled me to form and enjoy friendships and gave me the chance to achieve and experience things I would otherwise not have had the chance to do. Sport allowed me to dream and begin thinking about professional football as a way to escape the council estate and my family situation. Sport became my reward and my inspiration.” His experiences gave Junior the desire to use sport to inspire many other children and young people in poverty and use it as an exit route out of difficult situations. 11 years since its inception and the charity has engaged with over 500,000 children nationwide and provided many disadvantaged children and their families with treasured memories and experiences.

Inspire Through Sport programme

The ‘Inspire Through Sport’ programme consists of a range of activities such as group and one-to-one mentoring, positive activity sessions, sports camps and after school sessions. These activities give children the chance to develop various skills and enjoy new experiences through the sports camps with visits to sites such as swimming pools, stadiums, fire stations and indoor rock-climbing centres. There are activities for every child’s interest, with the charity offering positivity activity sessions in sport, art, drama, music, and dance, whilst supporting young people who are facing significant challenges and difficult situations.

The programme focuses on inclusion, investment, inspiration, and integration. With a recent YouGov study finding 24 per cent of young people admitting to suffering from loneliness, one of the aims is to deliver inclusion through recognising the importance of young people being involved in activities that create social interactions and also create safe spaces where young people can come together and form new friendships.

Inspiring young people through sport via the SCF programme helps to develop skills, self-esteem, confidence, and character, whilst inspiring them to develop and pursue their dreams and inherent potential. This includes increasing their awareness of previously unknown or seemingly unachievable career paths and making them seem accessible through the charity’s industry ambassadors and powerful stories. In addition to this, the activities operate both within schools and the community, giving the best opportunity for young people to develop in the spheres of home, education, and community


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