WNST trustee, Marilyn Okoro and CEO, Stewart Goshawk, were pleased to be at a House of Lords reception on 26th October for the launch of the Chiles, Webster, Batson Commission report into the role played by sports provision for young people living in low-income neighbourhoods.
Commissioned by StreetGames (themselves a WNST beneficiary), the report is an important contribution to the weight of evidence showing the important role that sport plays within communities, especially for young people who often have little else fulfilling in their lives, with the alternative attraction of gang culture and criminal behaviour.
The report can be found here:
The Commission was co-chaired by broadcaster, Adrian Chiles, former professional footballer, Brendon Batson OBE, and TV presenter and campaigner, Charlie Webster. Interviews and round-tables were held across the country with young people, as part of their gathering of evidence of the part sport plays in their lives.
By it’s own admission, the Commission’s concluding message is a simple one. Young people need:
- Somewhere to go
- Something to do
- Someone to trust
As well as reflections from the three commission chairs, the launch event also heard an impassioned address from MP, Kim Leadbetter, about the part that sport had played in her childhood and how the lessons and experiences of those days had influenced her later life.
With the decimation of youth clubs and local authority youth services over the past decade and more, the importance of sports clubs has never been greater. The statistics regarding the number of school-age children who do no physical exercise outside of what they have to do at school are shocking – nearly 75% of young people fail to do the recommended level of physical activity, and are worse in more deprived neighbourhoods. Yet, time and again, the commission heard testimonies from young people about a local sports club being their salvation and refuge from the streets. One of those young people, TJ from Newcastle, gave the event an eloquent account of his early life and his personal journey from the temptations of criminal activity to becoming a sports mentor of other local teenagers.
You can read Adrian Chiles own account of the report and its findings here:
From our own experience at WNST, we understand the key role that local sports clubs play within local Brent communities. These clubs are often volunteer run and make the most of whatever funding they can secure. The adult volunteers and coaches also provide valuable role models for the young people, offering inspiration, drive and determination. The pandemic showed how isolation sets in for so many young people when they are unable to access these key local resources. Which is why WNST is delighted to support these essential organisations in LB Brent and has every intention of continuing to do so.