The announcement earlier this year that Sport England had identified volunteering as a key area for investment and development in their “Towards An Active Nation” strategy document was widely welcomed. Today’s latest release “Volunteering in an Active Nation” is the next step in the realisation of that objective.
If you have been involved in sport at almost any level, you would have been keenly aware that it does not happen without the combined efforts of 100’s of people. From the top of sport to its very grassroots volunteers are essential. For so many years there was an assumption that organised sport just happened! This is a view TeamKinetic did not share, and we set out to change that seven years ago when we built VolunteerKinetic. It’s with a sense of excitement we have been waiting to see what Sport England had in mind to re-imagine the sports volunteer landscape.
The acknowledgement in the document for the Sport and Recreation Alliance and our consortium of partners is something we are really happy with, although it is still early days we have been really busy behind the scenes since we were passed the baton by Join In. Our hope is that through the work of the partners in the consortium we can provide a range of digital tools, research, campaign experience and support that will be invaluable in helping Sport England realise their vision. This will start this month with Sports Personality of the Year, and hopefully early in the new year, we will have even more to shout about.
The strategy commits to a £26 million investment, taking us to 2021, with £6 million available in the first round in February 2017.
The two initial funds are called
- The Opportunities Fund – targeting people from disadvantaged areas.
- The Potentials Fund – targeting 10 to 20 year olds.
Each fund is worth £3 million, and it seems quite clear that Sport England is very keen to widen volunteering to be more inclusive and representative.
THE OPPORTUNITY FUND
Initially making it clear that disadvantaged can mean many things to a broad range of communities, they go on to say they are looking for partners who are trusted in their local communities and will consider bids “which contain smaller elements of sport and physical activity.”
Maybe most telling is the final statement;
“To emphasise our commitment to reaching this new audience, we’re aiming to award at least 50% of the fund for projects run by partners who are new to Sport England or even new to sport and physical activity.”
This seems to fit with the information we have had before today’s announcement with Sport England keen to look beyond the more traditional and established sport offer. We think this fund provides some interesting opportunities for traditional organisations such as County Sports Partnerships and Local Authorities to work with less traditional partners such as youth and health groups, to provide infrastructure and support through volunteers for volunteers.
THE POTENTIALS FUND
Sport England have identified the benefits of “youth social action” which has been the focus of the #iwill campaign run by Step up to Serve. This campaign was recently granted a £40 million extension until 2020 by the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
Step Up To Serve CEO Charlotte Hill presented the keynote speech at our annual conference this year at Manchester Metropolitan University. The #iwill campaign offers an opportunity to recognise and acknowledge the role of youth social action and provides a route for young people to get involved. We advise every organisation who works with volunteers, to got to the #iwill website and make a pledge now.
The strategy does lack detail on what it may fund, but it does contain the provocative line “We’ll be looking for projects which connect with the lives and aspirations of 10 to 20 year olds. Sport and physical activity should be involved, but it doesn’t have to be the sole focus. We’re looking for brilliant ideas.”
We hope this allows for the type of innovation and creative engagement that will inspire young people to help lead this work. We will be looking at how we work with our current customers and those we have been speaking with for some time, to help integrate our digital tools to provide the type of experiences and bring to life the brilliant ideas young people have.
The document makes numerous mentions regarding “digital” and its importance. We will be working hard over the next few months to understand what that means and how to maximise our platform and its related connections. We will be exploiting all our years of expertise in the sports volunteer sector to make sure VolunteerKinetic remains the most powerful volunteer management system available.
I think that pretty much covers the main elements as we understand them, please share your opinions with us on this latest strategy announcement. We are keen to know what you think and how you might be able to benefit, or if you think Sport England may have missed anything. We believe that this is where the hard work starts and we are ready to roll up our sleeves and get stuck in. If you want to join us on this mission, don’t hesitate to get in touch.