Sport For Confidence, a pioneering organisation that brings health professionals, leisure providers and sports clubs together to deliver occupational outcomes using engagement in sport and physical activity, has received a £100,000 funding grant over the next two years from Public Health, Essex to make its highly successful programme accessible to more communities across the county.

The investment, made available via the County Sports Partnership, Active Essex, secures the provision of a dedicated Occupational Therapist at two additional leisure facilities, Hadleigh Park, managed by Essex County Council and Witham Leisure Centre, Managed by Fusion Lifestyle. These funded healthcare professionals will work alongside qualified sports coaches, leisure centre staff, Community Learning Disabilities Teams (CLDTs), GPs and local sports clubs to deliver a programme of sport which enables people with and without learning disabilities to enjoy sport side by side.

Sport For Confidence is now delivering its inclusive sports programme at seven locations across the county offering a range of activities including trampolining, Boccia, cricket, netball, multi sports, fencing and New Age Kurling.

Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health, Essex says:

“At the last ukactive National Summit, Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson urged Government to place leisure centres at the heart of its healthcare delivery strategy, shifting to a ‘prevention over cure’ approach. She went on to state that placing physical activity and wellbeing at the centre of an integrated community infrastructure is the only long-term solution to saving the NHS from bankruptcy.

“Sport For Confidence is an excellent example of how the private and public sectors can work together to achieve measurable healthcare and financial benefits. The organisation launched its first intervention at Basildon Sporting Village, managed by Everyone Active, in 2009. Today, the intervention attracts more than 100 fee paying individuals every week. The aim is to mirror this success in other areas of the county.”

Jason Fergus, Director, Active Essex, adds:

“It is absolutely fantastic to see this Essex based company delivering a truly valuable service to the community. Active Essex has supported the programme since its launch and we are really pleased to be able to continue to do so. Our aim at the County Sports Partnership is to make sport and physical activity available to everybody in the county and Sport For Confidence is a brilliant example of how we are achieving this.

“Sport offers so many physical, social and mental benefits that it is absolutely imperative we continue to find ways to make it accessible to all walks of life. Having a disability should not preclude a person from getting involved. Sport For Confidence welcomes everyone and builds an inclusive, safe and professional environment where individuals can relax, have fun and develop skills. On the flipside, it offers health professionals a new and innovative approach to assessment and monitoring, delivering positive outcomes which benefit the individual and community as a whole.”

Speaking about the benefits of bringing Allied Health Professionals into leisure environments and placing sport as a central theme, Lyndsey Barrett, Founder of Sport For Confidence, explains:

“Our sessions expose participants to situations and skill development opportunities that they just wouldn’t experience in a more traditional, clinical environment.

“Many skills acquired are transferable into everyday life such as increased self-confidence, social communication and interaction and general health and wellbeing. This can prevent a deterioration in both physical and mental health; reducing reliance and financial pressure on additional, costly, support services.”

Commenting on the success of the intervention, Tom Fletcher, Everyone Active Contract Manager at Basildon Sporting Village, says:

“It’s been incredible to witness the growth of the Sport for Confidence programme and also the difference it is making to so many of our regular participants. Everyone Active are committed to supporting all members of the community and making activity accessible to everyone. Many of our Sport for Confidence attendees now arrive early and enjoy time in the café with their family ahead of the sessions. It’s fantastic to see the improvement in their self-confidence and to see them totally at home here in the centre.”

Allied Health Professionals are now in post at Hadleigh Park and Witham Leisure Centre. Sessions can be booked by contacting the leisure centres directly. Sport For Confidence sessions are available at the following locations:

  • Epping Leisure Centre
  • Ongar Leisure Centre
  • Hadleigh Park
  • Witham Leisure Centre
  • Waterside Farm Leisure Centre
  • Braintree Leisure Centre
  • Basildon Sporting Village

For more information, visit www.sportforconfidence.com or contact the individual leisure centres for session details.