Funds awarded for BSUK to continue LGBT work in Manchester

Tue 24 Sep 2019

BaseballSoftballUK’s work with the LGBTQ+ community is continuing to grow in the North by working with partners such as The Proud Trust and GreaterSport, the local Active Partnership.

The Proud Trust coordinates national and regional LGBT+ youth work networks, delivering training, conducting research, running events etc.  BSUK has been working with The Proud Trust for a number of years to be able to better reach the LGBT+ community.


Programme

BSUK initially ran a programme in the summer of 2018 for a LGBTQ+ youth group from The Proud Trust with Satellite Club funding accessed via GreaterSport, with sessions taking place in Worthington Park, Sale.

Satellite Clubs were launched in 2013 as a part of Sport England’s response to the government’s new strategy for youth sport.  The aim was to create 5,000 new outposts/extensions of community sports clubs with a target of attracting 300,000 young people aged 11 to 25.  BaseballSoftballUK has successfully applied for Satellite Club funding to support several of its programmes. 


Sessions

After Group Leader Hebe Phillips saw how engaging in physical activity in a social situation was beneficial to the LGBTQ+ youth group’s members, more money was requested in 2019 to duplicate the sessions this summer, and GreaterSport provided top-up funding for an additional five sessions for young people aged 13 to 19.

At the start of every session, participants play ‘the name game’, where everyone is able to give their preferred name and pronouns.  With new people joining each week, players go over the basics of throwing, catching, fielding and batting before splitting up and playing games.

Ideally, the aim is for these young people to either form their own team or join a team in the local league in future.


Comments

BaseballSoftballUK North West Coach Linni Mitchell, who applied for the funding through GreaterSport and delivers the weekly sessions, said, “The popularity of the sessions is increasing week on week and we’re happy to have so many young people enjoying our sports – particularly those who would not describe themselves as sporty types.  Everyone engages and most look shocked when they make their first catch, but their confidence is growing and it’s fantastic to see.”

Jess Simons, GreaterSport Development Officer (Children & Young People), approved funding and recently came down to see how the youth group was getting on.  She said, “The Satellite Club’s funding has allowed the LGBT youth group to come together to try a completely new and non-traditional sport that they may not have previously engaged with. 

“Many of the young people who attend don’t currently do any other sport or physical activity,” Jess continued, “but have really taken to softball due to the fact that it’s not as mainstream as some of the other sports on offer and they haven’t had any previous negative experiences.  It has also proven popular with this group as it’s not specifically assigned to a gender, so this made them feel more comfortable about playing.  The participants also spoke about how the sessions were a really good social opportunity and that everyone was a similar ability, which made them more confident about trying a new activity and not being afraid to fail.”

Hebe Phillips, who works for the Proud Trust and is the leader for this group, echoed Jess Simon’s comments.

“Many of the young people in this group will actively avoid physical activity in a formal setting such as PE at school,” Hebe said.  “Introducing softball to them in a friendly and welcoming environment has shown them that you don’t have to be an athlete to enjoy being physically active.  The sessions are super social and have really proven popular amongst the LGBTQ+ youth since we started last summer.  It’s a chance for them to be amongst young people like themselves and take part in a fun activity that they can enjoy with friends.”

Luis Arrevillagas, BaseballSoftballUK Development Manager for the North West, added, "Projects like this are so rewarding!  We are really passionate about being an inclusive sport and engaging with the LGBTQ+ community.  I would like to extend my thanks to GreaterSport, who granted the funding for this project and continue to support baseball and softball in Greater Manchester, from providing a weekly hot desk in their office to entering teams into workplace games.  We really appreciate your support!"


Targets

BaseballSoftballUK is the only organisation funded by Sport England with specific targets to increase participation by members of the LGBT community, and BSUK has an LGBT Panel that has created a set of inclusive rules which leagues and tournaments across the country are using.

The hope is to have 5000 LGBT people playing baseball and softball by March 2021, which would equate to 18% of the sports’ playing population.

Projects like this, where Satellite Club funding is accessed to bring young people into a social and active environment such as softball, are beneficial for all involved and are a great way to engage members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

If you have a LGBTQ+ group in your local area who you think may be interested in starting a softball club, get in touch through info@bsuk.com.

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