Supporting community sports clubs across Bedfordshire

The COVID-19 pandemic has and continues to provide a wide range of challenges for the sport and physical activity sector. Our small team at team BEDS&LUTON have been committed to supporting this community throughout this period.

We were delighted to see Sport England's prompt and appropriate response to the pandemic lockdown and the ceasing of operations for clubs through the launching of the Community Emergency Fund.

We saw our role as being one that needed to provide direct support to the club network and related partners to ensure that as many clubs in Bedfordshire as possible obtained the financial support that they required. We immediately allocated team members to this project, engaged with National Governing Bodies and our Local Authority Partners to identify priority clubs, provided written guidance regarding the fund and the application process and established a programme of day time and evening zoom workshops during April.

The workshops were very well supported, with over 30 clubs and partners attending and receiving direct support from us through this median. We also recorded a workshop and placed this on the website so that those clubs unable to attend our interactive workshops could access the support content.

We also offered and provided, where requested, the following 'add-on' funding related services:

- Review of and support with drafting applications pre submission.

- Built awareness of the financial and cashflow support available through Central Government.

- Advised clubs of other funding options both nationally and locally, and supporting them with drafting and review of submissions where required.

- Supported clubs with social media communications with their members and the wider community.

- Built awareness of the joint crowdfunder and Sport England initiative 'Active Together' and offered support with the development of their fundraising scheme.

- Developed a COVID-19 stimulation fund for roll-out through the Luton Sport Network to support clubs 'return to play'.

We are delighted with the outcomes achieved. At the time of writing COVID-19 related funding from the Community Emergency Fund, Active Together project and other locally based funding pots and lending options exceeds £0.5M. A number of clubs and local partners have expressed their appreciation. Comments from the chair of a Luton based gymnastics club are typical….

"The £10,000 funding support we have received from the National Lottery funding through Sport England's Community Emergency Fund helped to save the job of a staff member who was ineligible for the furlough scheme. The funding also helped to fund core costs." Explains Carl Richardson, C.O.O and Trustee, SALTO Gymnastics Club, Luton "We want to thank team BEDS&LUTON for supporting us with the funding process, reviewing the application and encouraging us to apply at the start of lockdown."

We have also focused on continuing to provide access to on line training and support that meet the needs of Bedfordshire's community clubs at this time. Example's include:

- Delivery of two Instagram training workshops via ZOOM during lockdown plus a case study on Dunstable Swimming Club to help inspire other clubs on the potential to engage members.

- We have continued to provide Online Safeguarding and Protecting Children Courses on an 'open' basis as well as closed bespoke club specific courses as required.

- In partnership with Leap we have delivered two Online Inclusive Activity Training workshops with 24 attendees in total.

- We have supported 16 individuals (Coaches/volunteers/Students) to successfully access 12 month's Subscription to UK Coaching's Learning and Development Platform to support them during this period and beyond.

- Held two online youth forums with Satellite Club Providers to obtain insight into the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak on young people- full details HERE.

- We have worked with clubs through our Satellite Clubs programme to deliver projects online where possible. An example of this work is the partnership between Riverside Tennis Club and Transitions UK targeting young people with disabilities, helping to keep them active during this period as well as providing social opportunities- full details HERE.

We have continued to make ourselves available to support clubs with their issues. Requests for support are increasing, particularly in relation to accessing facilities and wider development issues as the return to play in the COVID-19 environment continues to bed-in.

If you would like further information on our services and support please dont hesitate to contact us or feel free to take a look at a summary of our services here.