This is the first of our new ‘activities’ blogs from the National Day Centres Project, focused on gardens.
A Question of Sport – getting active in day centres
Here we showcase three very different examples; running, table tennis and football, all of which are helping to build self-esteem, well-being and good health.
The Running Charity by Alex Eagle
The Running Charity uses the power of running to help transform the lives of vulnerable and homeless young people. Founded as a charity in 2014, it was the first service of its kind. They understand the pressures and needs of their partners well and offer satellite programmes for day centres and hostels at no cost to the organisations.
Director, Alex Eagle, co-founded the charity at the same time as working at a day centre in London. Since then the charity has expanded across London and Manchester, as well as recently launching hubs in Nottingham and Newcastle. There are now plans to expand its service across the UK,
“Many services want to provide sports activities and are aware of the impact it can have on people’s mental health, self-esteem and motivation. However, for all too many services, there can be a heavy financial burden in providing the necessary sports training, staff time and equipment. The Running Charity was set up to help alleviate much of that burden and provide an expert and committed service to its members and charity partners, whilst delivering measurable impact.”
The charity offer homelessness organisations access to three weekly fitness sessions. Each member is offered a personalised goal-setting plan and is rewarded with new running gear and access into races.
The Running Charity is keen to hear from organisations that would like to work with us or would like us to share good practice around delivering fitness sessions to their clients. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or go via the website www.therunningcharity.org
Brighton Table Tennis Club by Tim Holtam
Brighton Table Tennis Club (BTTC) was set up in 2007 by Tim Holtam and Harry McCarney, both ex-international players. It began with two broken old tables and now oversees over 100 Tables across the city with hundreds of players. The Club has received recognition for its inclusive work across the community most especially with young refugees.
BTTC lead and deliver Ping! Brighton and Hove managing the provision of free outdoor tables across the region. Many of Brighton’s homeless community have made good use of the free tables, especially on the seafront near the iconic bandstand.
In October 2016, we received a £4k grant from the Sussex Community Foundation to go into First Base, Brighton Housing Trust's day centre, every Friday. First Base is an old church that has been converted into a day centre with space for two table tennis tables in the hall.
The response from players and staff has been excellent. Over 150 different people have played in the sessions and 10 of these have come to our general BTTC All Comers sessions in Kemptown. One of the players we met at First Base is now going to be playing in the Brighton League and is being put forward to do his Level 1 Coaching course.
Andy Winter who is the CEO of Brighton Housing Trust also has a passion for Table Tennis: “Table Tennis in our various services has been a revelation, bringing people together, helping to overcome isolation and loneliness, and building confidence amongst the players. It’s amazing how this has been achieved in such a short time”
Football at the Cathedral Archer Project, by John Roberts
Cathedral Archer Project (CAP) is a day centre in Sheffield for homeless and vulnerable people. The project works with approximately 2000 individuals per year, providing crisis and medical support as well as move on opportunities. John Roberts is the activity coordinator at CAP,
“We offer 17 different activities a week at CAP. Some of these are learning activities but we also have activities for leisure, development and health. My job is to make activities as colourful and diverse as possible.”
CAP has been offering weekly football sessions for over 10 years. Most recently, this has been delivered in partnership with an organisation called Football Unites, Racism Divides. Service users travel from CAP in a minibus to the ground and play friendly games in multi-ethnic teams for a two-hour session. The sessions cost £2 per person per session and the group is usually 6-8 people.
“Although the sessions are good value, it all adds up - especially as we play every week all year round. We have to continually fundraise from local businesses but it is worth it”
CAP has also recently gone into partnership with Sheffield Knights to deliver additional football sessions. This partnership involves service users volunteering at the club, as well as playing. It is hoped that this will lead to qualifications in the future.
John is clear about the benefits that the football sessions bring: “It improves discipline, fitness and health. Playing football helps our service users to get rid of pent-up anger and is a chance to forget about their street life for a few hours a week”
The centre takes part in various tournaments throughout the year and has a cabinet of trophies to show for it, but the most important thing is to play for fun. “We’re not playing for the world cup. We want people to come away and say they had a laugh and feel good!”
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Vicky is an Innovation and Good Practice Project Manager. She is currently on maternity leave.
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