Working in partnership to create sustainable, sport for change programmes and build stronger, more positive communities.
Case Study: Levenmouth.
By Martyn Horsfield, Shell Twilight Basketball Senior Programme Coordinator
Sustainability continues to be an ambitious goal for any sector, let alone Sport for Change, but Scottish Sports Futures (SSF) have put a real focus on achieving this through their Shell Twilight Basketball (TBB) programme. Significant progress has been made towards creating a long lasting impact within the communities we work in across Scotland. For a long time, sessions have required continuous investment to ensure their longevity, but, as a result of effective partnership working and the upskilling of passionate coaches, we now have sessions that need very little in means of support and are fully self-sufficient.
A great example of a sustainable session is Levenmouth. As one of the longest standing sessions in the TBB programme, Levenmouth has received significant investment to engage local young people in positive, physical activity. The session originally took place at Levenmouth Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre in the heart of Leven, and is where the vast majority of investment was spent. In order to run a successful basketball programme, you need a good facility with the necessary equipment. The other key element of success, that required investment, was quality sessional staff who could lead the session, and act as positive role models for the young people in the community. Due to the nature of leasing a facility and retaining good quality members of staff, the only way to continue the session in this form would have been to continue investing year in, year out. Therefore, with a view to making the session sustainable, change was inevitable.
The first consideration was sessional staff and how we could reduce the cost, or better still, eradicate it completely. This would rely heavily on a volunteer workforce with the skills and knowledge to lead this initiative and continue to have an impact on the young people and the community as a whole. The volunteers would also have to be invested in the session and the aims and objectives that go with it. With this in mind, in addition to the main programme, the TBB Ambassador programme was utilised to develop the next generation of TBB leaders. SSF already had success in volunteer recruitment with their Active East programme, and experience of upskilling young people in the sport for change concept through the Education through CashBack (ETC) programme. We used this learning to provide tailored training and learning opportunities to aspiring young leaders.
Over three years, Levenmouth has had a total of ten young people join the ambassador programme, who now take the lead every Friday night at their TBB session. The young people were supported through the process by a mentor, giving them valuable feedback, and providing opportunities to further learn and develop. Their mentor, Callum Knox, has been involved in the programme since its conception as a sessional member of staff, and is looked up to as a positive role model. Who better to support the young people to develop the skills and confidence required to coach than the person employed to coach them in the first place? Since Callum started his mentoring role, he has cut back his involvement at the session and currently visits on a monthly basis to check in with the ambassadors and ensure the session is running smoothly.
During the initial period of investment, the TBB programme is free to young people between the ages of 11 and 21, to remove participation barriers for young people from areas of deprivation. However, in order to keep the programme free at the point of delivery, we would have to come to an arrangement with a local sports/community centre with the correct fixtures and fittings for basketball, which is no easy task. When reaching out to local partners, Fife Council’s Community Learning and Development team engaged in conversations around the value of the programme in the local area, and what they could do to support the session. They agreed to include TBB as part of their youth provision for two hours on a Friday evening, and provide a space in a local community sports centre for the session to continue. The centre is primarily an indoor football hall, with only two poor quality basketball hoops fitted to the side walls to create one cross court. However, the centre is right in the heart of the community, has a large space for young people to participate in physical activity, and we were offered the use of the facility for two hours every week at no cost. In order to improve the suitability of the facility for us, and improve its use within the community as a whole, we decided to look into fitting basketball hoops. This would be a one-off investment that would allow the programme to continue for the foreseeable future, with no further costs.
Various partners have been involved in the process, including St Andrews University, who kindly donated two heavy duty, swing out basketball hoops, wall brackets, and backboard fittings, to support the work being undertaken within the community. Levenmouth Community Sports Hub, which is made up of various local partners including Active Schools, Sports Development, clubs, and residents, offered £172 to contribute towards the fitting of the hoops. The remainder of the cost was covered by the session participants’ fundraising efforts. Thanks to the support from partners and participants, we now have a fully operational hall that provides TBB sessions to young people in the Levenmouth area at no cost. This was a significant piece of work but really lays the foundation for sustainable, sport for change programmes across the country, and an example of what effective partnership working can achieve.