Sports Traider Charity set up a chain of charity sports shops with the aim of ensuring all children and young people had the opportunity to take part in sports and benefit from the opportunity sports, and volunteering brings; to gain confidence, self-esteem, make friends and improve mental and physical health and wellbeing. The objectives and public benefits were met to the satisfaction of the Charity Commission and Sports Traider Charity was registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in March 2014.
Sports Traider Charity acquires redundant sportswear and equipment, which can be given to disadvantaged children and young persons, free of charge, to help them participate in their chosen sport, again helping to remove any barriers. The charity recycles sports clothes and equipment, collecting from schools, sporting facilities and sports companies whether the product is second hand or new. Counterfeit goods are also received via Trading Standards departments and “rebranded” to ensure that the product is legal; encouraging sports companies to recycle old stock by donating it to the cause therefore significantly reducing the pressure on landfill.
The concept of a discount sports store, set-out and run like a mainstream store, proved popular and Sports Traider Charity now operates stores Loughborough, Dunstable, and Stoke on Trent.
As well as benefitting the sporting community Sports Traider Charity supports the whole community by offering work experience to the disabled, young people, the long-term unemployed, disadvantaged groups, and ex-offenders in the stores. So far over 3,000 days of work experience have been provided.
Sports Traider Charity shops are staffed by volunteers, many of whom are young adults with learning difficulties. Their engagement with volunteering gives people a reason to get out of bed, work in a team, building confidence and self-esteem. Their services, and the experience of shop work they gain, are recognised through a reference which may lead to paid employment, in some cases within the charity.
The skills they learn include organising the shop, dealing with new stock and donations, answering the phone, dealing with the general public, team working, and handling money. The softer outcomes gained include increased confidence and self-esteem, improved health and wellbeing, reduced isolation and loneliness.
Sports Traider Charity has been very successful in including ex-offenders, engaging them in both the retail and community projects, where, together with contributing their volunteering hours, they can discuss and talk about prison life, social disadvantage, alcohol and drug misuse and abuse. The peer support that they get is proving, in many cases, to be very beneficial to their rehabilitation process.
The idea for the charity came from founder Lance Haggith, who after many years of playing, coaching and generally being involved in basketball, saw the potential benefits to disadvantaged children those with disabilities, and young offenders. After facilitating some research, he discovered that the access to sport for many young persons was out of reach due to their disability, disadvantage and/or social background, etc. The research concluded that there was a tangible benefit in enabling people to access sports, with a dual purpose, firstly to allow them to become active and secondly to help improve their self-confidence, self-esteem and social skills, which cannot always be achieved in a classroom environment and which will help them gain vocational skills transferrable to a workplace environment.
Together with the outcomes achieved through engaging volunteers in outlets, Sports Traider Charity have/can:
- provide free transport to and from venues, either by way of a mini bus or individuals travelling in cars;
- provide recycled push bikes to make local venues accessible;
- provide sportswear to ensure that activities are available to all, which may include boots, trainers, jogging bottoms and tops, and more.
- use proceeds generated from its retail units to fund coaching, access to facilities such as sports clubs and gyms, and fund the transport required to get talented but disadvantaged athletes to training.
- provide tents and equipment for unprivileged children to have a holiday.
- provide specialised wheelchairs to enable disabled people to participate in wheelchair sports.
- help regenerate local shopping areas by utilising otherwise empty retail units.
Sports Traider Charity has retail outlets located in areas in, or close by to, neighbourhoods that, according to the Government Office for National Statistics, are high on the list of those suffering from high levels of deprivation as compared to others in England. This is a deliberate strategy in accordance with charitable objects ‘…to provide or assist in the provision of facilities in the interests of social welfare’, to target service delivery at those most in need of support.’