Banking giant Barclays launched its Spaces for Sports programme in September 2004 to create sustainable sports facilities in disadvantaged communities across the UK. It is the country’s single biggest investment in grassroots sport by a private company.
It has delivered 200 sustainable sports sites, benefiting more than half a million people across the UK. On average there are 60,000 people using the sites every week.
The 26 flagship sites each received £600,000 capital investment and a further £50,000 revenue.The flagship sites were delivered by the Football Foundation in partnership mainly with Premier League football clubs but also with some Football League clubs to ensure even coverage across the UK.
In addition, 174 smaller projects have also been sourced and developed by Groundwork, with each project receiving a £50,000 capital investment and a further £20,000 over three years to enable investment in training, coaches and volunteer programmes as well as kit and equipment.
Siobhan Atkinson, Programme Manager for the Barclays Spaces for Sports initiative, explains how the programme came about: “Twelve years ago Barclays partnered with Groundwork and delivered the SiteSavers initiative. This saw the rejuvenation of over 1,000 parks, allotments and other community facilities through the efforts of over 76,000 volunteers. This was a big investment in the local community.
“The current Spaces for Sports initiative has given the Barclays brand a lot more visibility and also has a natural synergy with its sponsorship of the Premier League.The Football Foundation is the delivery arm due to its experience in sport and funding.The Foundation has been contracted through until 2010 to monitor and evaluate the projects and to ensure their long-term sustainability.”
It is this concern over sustainability that prompted the IOG’s involvement last year, as Siobhan explains:“We surveyed our sites to assess what areas caused most concern.Maintenance came out on top so we decided to set up a series of workshops across the UK to work as a signposting exercise.The sites and the people managing them are as varied as the day is long, so running maintenance training days and expecting to see results on the back of them would have been unrealistic.Instead, we worked with the IOG to provide a thought-provoking overview session to arm administrators with an outline knowledge of what is required and a good idea about where to go to obtain the various services.
“Many of the sites will be working in partnership with local authorities or contractors so they don’t need to know how to perform maintenance operations, but they do need to know what standards to expect and if they aren’t being achieved, how they can rectify it.”
Ian Lacy, the IOG’s Head of Professional Services, who delivered the five regional workshops, comments:“Over 100 people attended the sessions which were interactive and of great benefit.As is often the case, maintenance isn’t given the attention it needs but the workshops made it clear that maintenance is necessary and, although a real cost, is more than worthwhile.Having a useable, sustainable surface will ensure the longer term viability for any sports facility, and that’s the message that was imparted: maintenance is key to providing a safe and enjoyable experience for the more than 60,000 users who use the 200 sites every week.”
The programme has been such a success in the UK that it has now been rolled out overseas, with the first overseas programme being the installation of a 2G artificial football pitch in South Africa.Projects have also been undertaken in Delaware and Zambia and, soon, in Spain and Kenya. The intention is to create overseas links between the various projects.
“We would like the facilities in the UK to build links with our overseas projects,” says Siobhan. “This would be beneficial all round as it would enable the sharing of knowledge and the opportunity to learn about different communities.”
Who is the Football Foundation? The Football Foundation is one of the world’s largest sports charities (certainly the largest in the UK). Funded by the Premier League, the FA and Government, the Foundation is a unique partnership between central Government and the UK’s leading sports industry.
Its objective is to improve facilities, create opportunities and build communities throughout England.
The Premier League, the FA and the Government invest a total of £45 million every year into the Foundation, and a priority is to deliver funding at grassroots level where it is most needed, invariably in the most deprived areas of the country.
Who is Groundwork? Groundwork is a network of Trusts which operate across the UK and is a partnership of the public, private and voluntary sectors, each with its own board of trustees.
Groundwork UK exists to support the charitable objectives of the Federation of Groundwork Trusts and to lead promotion and development of the Federation.The Trust’s roe is to bring together a partnership of public, private and voluntary sector interests in a co-ordinated effort to upgrade the environment, to realise the full potential of under-used land, to convert waste ground to productive use and to improve access to the countryside.
White Hart Lane Community Sports Centre was originally built in the early 1970s and primarily served residents from the Woodside ward in Haringey.
The project has resurfaced a dilapidated 11-a-side pitch with a third generation artificial grass and rubber crumb surface, and provided four floodlit tennis court surfaces providing high quality facilities for local use. The project acts as a focal point for a number of local sports clubs, community groups, and primary and secondary schools, and it aims to increase community cohesion, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and to benefit local residents.
Consultation was carried out with a range of key organisations including School Sports Co-ordinators, national and local Governing Bodies of Sport, London Active Partnership, Positive Futures and Haringey Sports Development.
Case study: In Gansbaai, in the Western Cape of South Africa, there are few positive outlets to tackle the community’s social issues. The majority of residents have never had access to community sports facilities but through the development of the Gansbaai Communal Sports Centre, it is hoped to change that. Between three racially segregated communities, there are now areas for football, rugby, netball and athletics. By getting involved in sport at the site, integration will be encouraged, and social benefits will follow. In addition to the sports areas, there are also shower and changing facilities and a community meeting room for local gatherings. Following the investment by Barclays Spaces for Sports, businesses, local and national government and the community are getting involved and coming together to secure the long term future of the site.
Leán Terblanche, a Gansbaai resident, said: “Yesterday we had the girls from the white community come over and play soccer with the black girls at the sports field - the white girls had never played soccer before in their lives! A great first step towards social and racial integration through sport and these wonderful facilities.”