Tag Archives: deprivation

When Origin Sports moved in to the "Play Barn" at Mill Lane Youth Centre, the building was in a serious state of disrepair. It had no electricity or water supply, the parking lot was overgrown and full of litter, and the building was dirty and unfit for use. Newcastle Council was looking to dispose of the building under its Community Asset Transfer program.

As well as being unsightly and unhygienic, the abandoned youth centre car park was a more serious problem area for the Elswick community. The area was used for fly tipping, and it was also a popular gathering ground for drunks and drug users. The youth centre is located on a road which leads up to the local Asda supermarket, and some shoppers were intimidated by the presence of those large groups of drunken youths.

We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with some other groups that were using the building, including a pro-wrestling group that holds their practice sessions there, and a parkour group called Apeuro Parkour & Freerunning. Together, we cleaned up the building and turned it into a thriving community area which is used seven days a week for sporting activities.

A Team Effort

Cleanup CrewCleaning up the youth centre was a huge team effort. We started work on renovating the youth centre in the summer. Many of our members are college and university students, and they gave up their valuable free time to come in to the center and pick up litter, weed the garden, paint, steam clean the floors and power-wash the equipment that had been left in the building. They also worked to repaint several parts of the building using painting and decorating supplies that had been donated at a significant discount by the local branch of Wickes, thanks to the help of another member, Vipin Chauhan.

Since the area has been cleaned up and the facility is now being used by the local community on a daily basis, the area around Sceptre Street looks better and feels safer. We still have a lot of work to do to turn the Centre for Urban Arts and Sports (as the Play Barn is now called) into the kind of facility that our members would like it to be and there are still many basic facilities, missing, such as gas heating, but the centre and the surrounding area have improved dramatically over the last few months thanks to the work of our members.

Young members such as Kevin Ling and Hubert Lebiedzinski (both pictured above, along with head coach Ian Malone), James and Aaron all deserve commending for giving up such a large chunk of their summer for the  benefit of the Elswick community. In addition to this work, they also found time to help out with other charitable and community projects in the north; such as the shows produced by the non-profit organization South Shields Fighting Fit, and the more recent Teesside Grapplethon, which raised money to help 4Louis, a charity which helps parents that are suffering following the trauma of stillbirth or neonatal death.

Plans for The Future

Our work in the area is just beginning. Our member base includes people of all ages and abilities, and we would like to support those members as they pursue their goals, whatever those may be. We would also like to introduce more people to the joy of sport, working closely with schools in the area to produce confidence-building and anti-bullying programs.

According to recent research performed by Sport England, more than half of all adults in the UK do not regularly participate in sport. Given that the NHS recommends that adults aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise as well as practicing muscle-strengthening activities twice per week, this is a worrying statistic.

Sport England's research did not just examine the number of adults that are taking part in sport, but also looked at their demographics, in a bid to determine why some adults take part and others do not. Their findings highlighted several interesting barriers to participation for adults, including:

  • Gender: Men are, by a large margin, more likely to continue participating in sports as an adult than women are. This could be down to the wider availability of, and promotion of, sports aimed at men.
  • Education: Adults who have completed some higher education are more likely to practice sports than those who left education at a younger age. This could be because adults who are better educated are more aware of the benefits of sport, or it could be something that relates to the next barrier, income.
  • Income: Those in the upper income brackets have more disposable income, and are more likely to practice sports.
  • Weather: Adult participation in sports is higher when the weather is favourable, and tails off during periods when the weather is less favourable.

Promoting Participation

Sport England discovered that while adult participation in sports is poor, a large percentage of adults who were not currently actively involved in sport were interested in taking up a physical activity. This means that if the above barriers to participation are addressed, the number of adults taking part in sport should increase.

At Origin Sports we aim to address the poor participation of adults in sport in several ways. Firstly, it is known that children who play sports are more likely to grow up to be active adults. Our initiatives to get children involved in sports should offer long-term benefits to the community in Newcastle Upon Tyne. In addition, removing the barriers mentioned above should also help to encourage adults to participate in sport.

By offering affordable, inclusive sports in a pleasant environment that is "on the doorstep" for adults in Elswick and the surrounding area, we make it easier for them to try sport for the first time, and hopefully continue, building lifelong healthy habits.

It is difficult for many adults to join sports teams because they are scared that they are unfit, or that they will not be good enough to keep up with their team mates. In addition, many adults don't want to take up sports because they don't want to pay an annual membership, or they don't want to invest in expensive equipment. The coaches that work with Origin Sports are committed to making their sports as inclusive and accessible as possible, and this means that there is no pressure to sign contracts, and no pressure to invest in expensive training equipment. New members can borrow equipment until they have decided that they are ready to commit to the sport. This may sound like a small and simple thing, but it is something that is very important to those who are on a low income.

Great Britain was host to the Olympic Games in 2012, and Team GB put in a great performance taking home numerous medals. The slogan for the London Olympics was "Inspire a generation" and in the short term it appears that Team GB lived up to its goal. In 2012, hospital admissions related to childhood obesity fell, and the number of young people taking part in sport was quite impressive. According to a statistics round-up published in the Guardian in 2012, 86% of children playing were some form of sport.

Unfortunately, that inspiration was short-lived. According to the latest figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, childhood obesity cases are increasing once again. It is hard to track sports participation, because the Department for Culture, Medicine and Sport no longer tracks sport participation themselves and Sport England only tracks participation figures for children over the age of 14. However, some groups do track the participation of their younger athletes, such as the British Wrestling Association, and those groups are seeing a steady decline in child participation.

A Worrying Trend

The decline in childhood sports participation is a worrying trend. The NHS recommends that young people aged between 5 and 18 engage in at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day. Most school PE programs do not offer anywhere near this amount, and school playtimes do not offer the kind of structured play that would ensure that children are actually getting enough exercise.

Ideally, children should practice aerobic activities and also engage in sports that strengthen their muscles and improve their bone density. Martial arts, gymnastics, tennis and team sports such as football and rugby are all good options for children, but there are many barriers to participation for young children, especially those in disadvantaged communities.

Barriers to Participation

According to a survey conducted by Sport Wales, the main barriers to participation for young people are a lack of knowledge of which sports are available in their area, and a fear that they are "not good enough". Some young people are unable to take part in sports because their families do not have a car, so they are unable to travel to the gym or the activity centre in a reasonable period of time.

Where leisure facilities were available in the local area, one common reason cited for not using the facilities was that they were too expensive. Another reason that was often cited was that the facilities were too run-down or poor quality to be worth using. These are all issues that could be easily fixed through greater investment in sport.

Our Work

On a local level, Origin Sports aims to provide affordable access to sport for people of all ages in Newcastle Upon Tyne. The Elswick and Benwell & Scotswood wards both scored in the bottom 10 percent in the Index of Multiple Deprivation report for 2010. These areas lack basic services such as affordable access to sport for community members. We believe that providing residents with access to sport will help to not just improve their health and wellbeing, but also help to improve community spirit, reduce crime, and contribute to the regeneration of the area.