Sporting organisations came together this week to officially thank the army of volunteers who have “stepped up to help their communities” during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE fronted a compelling short film created by Sport England which featured dozens of governing bodies and charities, ranging from the Rugby Football League (RFL) to Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA).
Many have benefitted from the tireless efforts of volunteers during the pandemic, from keeping activity programmes running when safe to do so or adapting them online during lockdown, to supporting food banks and medicine delivery, and providing telephone or check-in services to tackle isolation amongst older people.
It’s just over a year since the first lockdown, with grassroots and community sport recently resuming following the third lockdown, and Tanni commented: “We know that the coronavirus pandemic has been a difficult and challenging time.
“But we also know this period has brought out the best in us too. It’s been a time of kindness, of giving, and of selflessness, where people have really stepped up to help their communities.
“To the millions of people helping grassroots sport and activity come through these difficult times, we want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you. Thank you for your incredible dedication and commitment. Thank you for supporting the physical and mental wellbeing of millions of people.
“You’ve improved lives and helped your communities when they needed you most.”
At a time when sports clubs and organisations have faced unprecedented challenges, the invaluable role of those who give up their time to support the sport sector has never been more apparent. Six million adults and 1.6 million children and young people volunteer every year to help sport and physical activity happen, and Sport England’s Director of Sport Phil Smith says the support of this workforce will be key in helping sport continue to recover.
“The last 12 months have been an incredibly challenging time for the sport sector, but without the support of huge numbers of volunteers who have stepped up, things would have been significantly harder,” he said.
“With the support of our amazing volunteers, we can help community sport thrive again and to enable people to benefit from all the great things we know sport and physical activity can provide.
“With many clubs and groups beginning to restart, it is the perfect time to appreciate the amazing efforts of our sector’s volunteers; to say thank you for working so tirelessly to keep their clubs and community organisations going, and for going the extra mile.”
Despite these challenging times, Tanni believes there is reason to be optimistic for the future of grassroots sport, urging volunteers to continue to give their time.
She said: “The familiar sights and sounds of the sports and activities we love will soon return. But this can only happen because of volunteers, so please, keep giving whatever time you can – and keep making the difference.”
The film was produced on behalf of Club Matters, which is Sport England’s Lottery-funded programme which provides free advice, guidance and resources to help sports clubs, groups, and community organisations. Club Matters has lots of resources designed to help these organisations return to play, support their participants, recruit new volunteers and much more.
For further information, visit sportenglandclubmatters.com.
Pic credit: Derby County Community Trust; Nottingham Forest Community Trust.