A year-long initiative to inspire people from deprived areas to get involved in sport was launched in January 2012 and completed at the end of last year with some fantastic results.
Oldham Community Leisure (OCL) led on the initiative, known as the Energize project, working alongside Oldham Athletic Community Trust, Community 1st Oldham and The Oldham College, to deliver a comprehensive programme offering a host of sporting activities, as well as volunteering opportunities and training. Community 1st Oldham and Sport England’s SportMatch provided funding for the project.
Alan Keane, Health and Outdoor Development Officer, OCL, said: “This is a great example of Oldham organisations working together to make taking part in sport and physical activity easy, enjoyable, and affordable. Increasing participation in sport is just one element – we are aiming to improve the health and wellbeing of the people taking part, as well as offering them volunteering and training opportunities, which could lead to paid employment.”
The programme offered a number of popular sports including football, boxing, cricket, basketball, swimming and rugby for a nominal charge of around 50 pence per session. Three month gym memberships were available for just £10. There were also a number of outdoor activities including walking, climbing, running and cycling, which links to Oldham Council’s objectives to make Oldham’s countryside and outdoor offering more accessible.
The core aim was to increase activity levels amongst the 15 – 25 years age group in the Oldham area. A wide range of activities were introduced and highlights include:
- The running club went from strength to strength with some participants having progressed from being absolute beginners to taking part in 5k park runs and 10k races. Three members of the running club even completed the Oldham Half Marathon.
- Eight attendees of the water sports activities completed a five day Pool Lifeguard Training course and are now qualified to find employment in the leisure industry. One of these is now employed on a casual basis by Oldham Community Leisure.
- Five participants of the indoor climbing sessions progressed on to the National Indoor Climbing Achievement Scheme (NICAS). Four are now Mountain Leader Training England qualified.
- One attendee of the basketball sessions was provided with funding to become a qualified basketball instructor and now has a casual coaching contract with Oldham Community Leisure.
- The scheme funded 100 £20 vouchers for the Reach4Life exercise referral scheme. The vouchers pay for the initial consultation in order for participants to gain access to the scheme.
- Overall, the scheme attracted 2,321 individuals to take part in sport sessions, against a target of 2,000.
- 22 coaches were involved against a target of 16.
- 54 volunteers were involved against a target of 30.
The parent of one Energize participant who completed lifeguard training commented: “As the parent of a young person who has had to leave education due to a mental health problem, the opportunity to return to study and be able to access the funding through Energize was a huge step. The result was a totally positive experience which increased my son’s confidence which was at an all-time low and provided him with a qualification. Thank you Energize!”