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24 Mar 2023 | 18:18

Access Sport’s work aligns with multiple areas of the Sport for Development Coalition’s #OpenGoal framework. To mark the UN’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace day on April 6th, the charity will highlight how and why it is contributing to the 'Stronger communities and social cohesion' area of the framework.

Access Sport’s role  

Access Sport is a national charity with a vision that no-one should be excluded from the transformational benefits of community sport. It is on a mission to make inclusion the norm in community sport by tackling the access barriers faced by disadvantaged and disabled young people.  

The charity does this by training, equipping and supporting community sports clubs, organisations and volunteers to provide inclusive programmes, unleashing their potential to transform the lives of under-served young people in their local communities.

System change is a key strand of the charity's work and its ‘Stand for Inclusion’ Growth Strategy. Whilst Access Sport’s work to empower community clubs and volunteers to transform the lives of under-served young people is central to its vision and mission, it also committed to using its experience and expertise to help make inclusion the norm across all of  community sport.  

Central to its System Change work is collaborating with a wide range of partner organisations, like the Coalition, to deliver shared objectives to make inclusion the norm in community sport. Access Sport is a member of the Coalition and supported the co-design process of the #OpenGoal framework.  

Stronger communities and social cohesion  

This year Access Sport is planning to undertake an external evaluation to understand the impact of its programmes on building community engagement and a sense of belonging for programme participants, and how these two outcomes contribute to building stronger communities.   

The Building Stronger Communities evaluation aligns to the 'Stronger communities and social cohesion' strand of the #OpenGoal framework, adding to the growing body of research into the use of sport and physical activity interventions to bring communities together and strengthen them through social connections.


“There are many transformational benefits to participating in sport," explained Helen Rowbotham, CEO at Access Sport. "Two of the four key benefits we focus on are community engagement and a sense of belonging. The anecdotal evidence we see and hear for both of these is strong, for example, our inclusive programmes within community sports clubs bring people together in an environment where differences are welcomed and celebrated.” 

There are five key research questions which cover areas such as:

  • understanding both the impact of and barriers to building community engagement and a sense of belonging;
  • the processes or conditions which enable increased community engagement and sense of belonging;
  • and how to sustain these two outcomes in community sport settings so they benefit future children and young people.   

Access Sport is currently seeking proposals from suitably experienced organisations to carry out this evaluation.

To find out more about the evaluation visit the Access Sport website and download the ‘Request for Proposals’ document