Sport England’s ‘Opportunity Fund’ aims to encourage people to volunteer to help tackle challenges their communities face. Projects are being funded in areas that may experience economic disadvantage, ranging from inner-city areas with high levels of crime and social exclusion, to remote rural areas with few services. Through getting involved, the volunteers will also benefit by developing their own skills and confidence, and experience improved wellbeing.
CAS is using the funding to create a volunteering project called ‘This Community Can’. The project will run in rural and isolated locations in Suffolk, encouraging accessible, sport-related volunteering opportunities. All members of the community will benefit from the opportunities made available to them, whether organising or taking part in activities.
Paul White, Volunteering Manager at CAS, said:
“Volunteering is genuinely fun. ‘This Community Can’ will be ideal for those who haven’t volunteered before, offering one-off opportunities to experience volunteering and will also encourage young families to volunteer together. You may have had barriers to giving your time in the past, because of something like transport issues. As this project is locally based, it will bring volunteering to you.
“As the project develops, we will recruit local residents to become Community Game Changers. We will provide them with training and support to create a volunteering and physical activity culture in their community for years to come. Whether it’s organising local bike rides, rambles, seated yoga events or inter-village competitions, there will be something for everyone.
“Thank you to anyone who has played the National Lottery. By doing so you are helping to support some 300,000 community projects across the UK of which this Suffolk project is one. This contribution is vital, making a significant difference to local, rural communities.”
CAS already offers volunteer training courses, one to one support, works with employers to engage their staff with volunteering, is a lead partner for Volunteer Suffolk and has recently launched the Young Leadership Project, training young people to become charity trustees. The addition of ‘This Community Can’ will further establish CAS’s commitment to volunteering in Suffolk. Suffolk’s voluntary sector relies on volunteers, and the range of benefits to giving your time works both ways.
Sport England’s Director of Sport, Phil Smith, said:
“When people volunteer in sport and physical activity there is a dual benefit – volunteers help others in their communities get active, as well as benefitting themselves. Volunteering can do wonders for job and career prospects, mental health and making friends.
“That’s why volunteering sits at the heart of Sport England’s new strategy, towards an active nation. We’re delighted to be helping Community Action Suffolk enable more volunteers to be the catalysts for change in their neighbourhood through the ‘This Community Can’ project.
“It’s one of 32 projects in which Sport England is investing over £4 million to support volunteering projects and opportunities between now and 2021. These projects will test various different approaches, with the ultimate aim being a larger number and more diverse volunteers. We are targeting people who are currently less likely to volunteer in sport, such as women, disabled people, people from diverse groups and people on a low income.”