Really enjoyed visiting the Change Foundation recently, and learning more about the great work that they do.
I was very grateful to Andy Sellins, the Chief Executive, for inviting me down to their charity in Wallington to hear more about how they use targeted and directed sport programmes to help young people tackle some of the issues they face today, including knife crime, social media addiction, disability inclusivity, mental health, and youth unemployment.
Originating in the early 1980s as the London Community Cricket Association, following the Brixton Riots, the charity began by using cricket as a tool to promote community cohesion and peace during the conflict in the heart of the local community. From this, the charity has expanded into a huge variety of different areas - with programmes specifically focused on support for women and girls; prisoners; people with disabilities; inner city areas and areas of social unrest; overseas cricket programmes; and much more.
The charity has since expanded to become a multisport organisation delivering targeted programmes for vulnerable groups of young people designed and led by Coach Mentors with lived experience. They now deliver award winning programmes, provide consultancy for National Governing Bodies, collaborate with sport celebrities, provide sport for social change training for other national and international charities and work in partnership with a number of corporate organisations.
I was interested to hear that they have two Kickstart Scheme team members - this Government initiative provides funding to create new jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. I was also pleased to hear of their support around social prescribing; this is a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker. Link workers give people time, focusing on ‘what matters to me’ and taking a holistic approach to people’s health and wellbeing. They connect people to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.
I very much look forward to continuing to work with them in the future, and am grateful to Andy and his team for their time.
Find out more about the charity here: www.thechangefoundation.org.uk