Community and Sport and why both are so important...
3Pillars Project marks the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) on April 6th by supporting the first anniversary of the #OpenGoal campaign. #OpenGoal has been created by 3Pillars' and fellow members of the Sport for Development Coalition to showcase how sport and physical activity can contribute to building a fairer, more equitable and sustainable future.
Our charity 3Pillars Project provides sports-based mentoring to inspire, challenge and empower men within the criminal justice system. The young men start their journey with us whilst in prison; through our Rugby Academy they become part of a team that boosts their physical, mental and emotional health. We work with every young man as an individual, to their time frame, whether this is months or years, to help them resettle into the community. Through mentoring and assisting them to gain qualifications, training and employment opportunities, our apprentices are able to build a better, brighter future whilst in prison and beyond.
Although our effort begins in prison, a core pillar of our work is conducted in the community. Namely in our free gym sessions based at Black Prince Trust in Vauxhall every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. These sessions are comprised of boxing classes and strength & conditioning classes run by our experienced coaches who are great at motivating and positively encouraging all the participants throughout the sessions. The classes are designed to improve the health and wellbeing of those who attend, which can be observed in one participant who attends every week believing that it can aid in focusing on the “mind, body and soul”.
As these community-based sessions are open and free of charge to all , this allows for a greater reach in terms of individuals who join us every week. New comers are always welcome to come down and try it out, this is bolstered by witnessing those who come every week who love the sessions, and have formed a friendly, welcoming and uplifting community to be part of.
When speaking to some of the participants they said “it is never too late to start getting into or back into fitness”. Those who attend week in and week out, have stated "these sessions are helping people from all different backgrounds, no matter their age, fitness or how much time they have to spare each week, regardless of what people have going on in their personal lives, these sessions help people."
It is a real testament of the great work that is done within the sessions and by the coaches that the same people attend each week, continuously getting to know each other and welcoming newcomers. This community motivates each other, is invested in people becoming their best selves and creating a space that is safe and where individuals can go from strength to strength.
Some quotes from those that attend the community sessions:
"It is a safe and comfortable space to go and learn new skills"
"It has helped me swap a bad addiction for a good one, exercise"
"We have created a family here, we look out for each other"
"It is part of my weekly routine, I love coming each week and pushing myself"
The Fitness Academy is a part of our GAMEPLAN intervention supports young men’s journeys from prison into education, employment or training. Our holistic approach utilises positive role models, sport, and the power of community to equip young men with a toolkit of skills to forge a brighter future. This academy is our post release community programme, offering mentoring, fitness sessions, advanced qualifications, training and work experience opportunities.
We support participants holistically to resettle back into their community. The qualifications gained from this initiative allows for individuals like one of our coaches to thrive in their community, it opens up more opportunities for participants. Furthering this, our work also reaches outside of London to Nottingham where we offer an initiative aimed at children and young adults who are deemed at risk of anti-social behaviour, this programme as well as our fitness academy are all focused on reducing crime and antisocial behaviour.
Overall, the work we do as a charity is important particularly now with the national re-offending rate at 69%. Change using sport-based programmes has been seen to create more positive and healthy societal outcomes for those involved. Just a few of the ways this is possible is through creating opportunities, fostering positive social relationships and empowering this community and communities as a whole.
Here is a snippet below of what goes in at some of our community sessions, enjoy!
IDSDP takes place each year on April 6th and, according to the United Nations, presents “an opportunity to recognise the positive role sport and physical activity play in communities and in people’s lives across the globe”. It is certain to resonate strongly in 2023 because of the cost-of-living crisis which has followed the Covid-19 pandemic, and continued conflict and displacement around the globe.
First and foremost, #OpenGoal will see the Coalition call on UK Government to ringfence funding committed for jobs, health and tackling crime towards targeted sport-based interventions that can save public money and generate multiple returns on investment, from improving the physical and mental health of individuals facing disadvantage and discrimination, to increasing educational attainment and the ability to secure employment. A good example of this is the £5million Youth Justice Sport Fund created by the Ministry of Justice in November 2022, and co-ordinated by Coalition partners StreetGames and the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice. More than 200 community-based organisations have received funding through the MoJ initiative.
3Pillars Project Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Mustoe-castle, adds; "It's so important to keep championing sport’s role in tackling inequalities and building a fairer society through national and local media, helping to amplify the business case for scaled investment in targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions. Through continued hard work from those in the sector and the help of campaigns like these I am hopeful that we can reach more people through the work we do".
By 3Pillars' Intern Freya Dawkins