After receiving a fantastic number of exceptional nominations for this year’s Sussex Sports Awards, we recently announced the eagerly awaited shortlist of finalists last week.
As we count down to the intimate awards ceremony on Thursday 25 November, we are sharing the stories of our finalists in each of this year’s five categories.
Meet our finalists for the Community Engagement Award
This award shines the spotlight on an exemplary organisation, project or initiative that has development through sport or physical activity at its heart. Over the last 12 months they will have shown adaptability to overcome challenges, innovation or embraced digital opportunities. They will be able to demonstrate how it has sustained or raised participation in sport or physical activity.
Brighton Yoga Foundation
Brighton Yoga Foundation offers classes that are free, or low-cost/pay-what-you-can and are appropriate for beginners. Their qualified yoga teachers deliver a unique array of different types of yoga including Chair Yoga & Relaxation, Trauma-Informed & Therapeutic Yoga (for people with chronic illnesses), Women Only, All-Genders, and Women of Colour classes.
Focused on reaching those most vulnerable, people from deprived areas or living with multiple health conditions, Brighton Yoga Foundation’s inclusive approach means that any barriers faced, are addressed sympathetically. They support those who lack self-esteem, have body confidence issues, live with serious health conditions, are lonely, or have no or low incomes.
They managed to continuously offer up to 14 different yoga classes across the whole of the pandemic, offering online classes, and have continued to move forward with a hybrid of in-person and online classes.
These classes have increased mobility and socialisation of participants as part of their chosen Community Health Trainer programme of supported lifestyle and behaviour change. Yoga opportunities through lockdowns also helped maintain people’s mobility and mental wellbeing as well as improved confidence during those challenging times.
Defiant Sports provide sports for all, regardless of ability or disabilities. They are fully community focused in what they do, always asking the question – “what would you like to do?”.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic they had approximately 50 regular attendees, however in the past year they have doubled this figure, now reaching a regular 100 attendees. This was achieved by a strong online presence over lockdowns, providing weekly YouTube sessions and Zoom socials.
Defiant Sports also carry out polls across their social media channels, getting the community to vote on which sessions they should offer next. This has received an overwhelming response across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, with people voting and then commenting to suggest other sports or interacting with other players. Community engagement is at the core, consistently asking for their feedback and direction, and creating a community within which attendees and participants can engage with each other.
In October Defiant Sports organised the first ever pan-disability LTA tennis tournament. This saw people with learning disabilities, visual impairments, wheelchair users, and cerebral palsy all play against one another at a fair level. It will now be an annual event, after being requested by many across the nation, and being enjoyed by all who attended.
Albion in the Community
Albion in the Community (AITC) is the official charity of Brighton & Hove Albion, reaching over 40,000 people annually in Sussex with 50 projects across 60 miles of the county, including in some of the most economically and health deprived coastal communities in the UK.
AITC targets 75% of its programmes towards children and young people, getting them active through a range of impactful football programmes including girls’ sessions, free football in neighbourhoods of greater need, inclusive disability sessions and a specific talent pathway for people with a disability.
In response to Covid-19 challenges AITC refocused and adapted its usual programme of activities into a mixed offer of in person and online support to encourage people to stay active during the pandemic.
The wide range of support and interventions provided included:
- Supporting children’s physical activity through online live Zoom football sessions teaching
children skills and setting challenges based around getting active at home or in the garden.
- Recorded training drills films for people with a disability to follow at home and stay active.
- Lockdown Q&A sessions with Brighton & Hove Albion players to inspire participants to get active
Throughout the impact of Covid-19 for the local communities they have provided 4,000 participants access to online sessions. This has been critical in sustaining levels of interest during a period of restriction.
The Sussex Sports Awards will take place on Thursday 25 November 2021, where our winners will be announced. See our full list of finalists here.