DfE Volunteer Leaders and Coaches 2019-2020 – Matthew

See how we partnered with Greenbank Sports Academy to implement this Department for Education (DfE)-funded programme

Read about the challenge, our role and the active difference this project has made. Plus hear participant and partner views.

The challenge 

The primary purpose of the DfE funded Volunteer Leaders and Coaches programme is to recruit, develop and deploy adult volunteer leaders and coaches to provide a workforce to directly support the School Games structures in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

Based on analysis of the Active Lives Survey (2018/19) data, volunteering levels are lower across the whole of LCR 13.2% when compared to the national average of 13.7%.

While the boroughs of Halton and St Helens both exceed the national average 14.2% and 13.1% respectively, Liverpool (12.9%), Sefton (11.9%) are notably lower.

Data for Knowsley was not included in the last data release due to the response rate however previous survey data (from 2016/17) indicated that the rate was as low as 10.7%.

Our role

In order to deliver this programme, MSP worked closely with Greenbank Sports Academy, based in Liverpool.

MSP has a close and long-established relationship with colleagues at Greenbank Sports Academy (GBSA), which goes back over a number of years. During this time, we have worked closely on differing Sport England programmes; the most recent include Satellite Clubs and delivering elements of the School Games. In addition to the Academy hosting different Level Three events, they’ve supported MSP to co-ordinate the organisation and delivery of specific sports including boccia, new age kurling and sitting volleyball.

As a result of the relationship and based on feedback from the School Games Organising Group, discussions were undertaken between MSP and the GBSA leading to the development of a plan, outlining how volunteers could be recruited, developed and deployed to support schools to participate in boccia.

One of the volunteers who has been involved in the programme was Matthew.

The active difference

Speaking about his experience Matthew said:
“Starting this programme with MSP & GBSA has given me more confidence. I feel honoured to be chosen to be part of this programme and by the end, with my 10 hours extra work a week, I hope to become a full-time coach in the future.”

Steve Sullivan, GBSA – Sports Development Officer, added:

“I think the DfE volunteering programme is very important in getting young people involved in sport who wouldn’t normally see this as a pathway. This can either be as a volunteer or as a first step on a career pathway.

Initially, I didn’t see Matthew as a coach, he was very shy and reserved and had to be encouraged to get involved in the volunteering. He was quite insular which I think was due to his low self-esteem; it took nearly a year for him to start chatting with other staff and since then he has blossomed as a person. As a result of volunteering, his confidence has grown and he is now fantastic working with the children from the schools we support and the events which we organise.

Last September, we decided that he had the capability to become a coach in the future so we have employed him on 10 hours per week and are upskilling him to improve his chances of becoming a full-time coach.

In return, he is continuing to volunteer his time and has been involved in supporting us to deliver boccia for schools in advance of the Level 3 School Games in 2020 where he will again be refereeing. In addition to helping us with coaching individual schools, Matthew has recently gained further experience as a referee at the Panathlon Challenge and the Boccia England North West Schools finals.”

The DfE Volunteer Leaders and Coaches programme in 2019-2020 was set to engage many more participants in addition to Matthew, however, the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that others placements could not go ahead. It’s hoped though that in 2020-21 many more people like Matthew will once again be able to take part in this valuable scheme, as they have in past years, to improve their skills.

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