I am pleased to announce that we have secured a grant of £1500 for an Access to Sport, Hardship Fund for the next academic year!
Over the past 6 months, I have been actively working with the University of Brighton Sports Department; SportBrighton, to assess the current sport club provisions, who provides them and working to make sure, where possible, sport is accessible to all.
As one of my priorities this year to make sport more inclusive, research has been undertaken to evaluate the ease of access for Widening Participation and Low-Income students to get involved in Sports at the University of Brighton. This research has focused on current processes and opportunities for students and has resulted in highlighting some potential areas for improvement.
Reaching out to speak to each club proved incredibly useful in understanding the diversity of club needs and the different opportunities they get from SportBrighton depending on their membership, sport and team members. From this research, there was considerable evidence of a requirement for students to purchase additional kit on top of their membership, from gum-shields to netball dresses. These could be defined as ‘hidden costs’ which could be a barrier to students accessing sport. For example, a student may purchase a ‘silver’ membership for £70 to play football, and then need to buy tops, shorts, boots, socks and even a tracksuit to compete and ‘fit in’. These items can total up to over £150 and therefore may be unaffordable for certain students. This is a barrier into sport.
When suggesting that the club could retain sets of spare kit to lend to students for matches etc, the presidents were keen but advised that a lot of the required items are quite personal, and students may feel uncomfortable and unalike others by wearing ‘hand-me-downs’.
After discovering this information, I proposed retaining a small proportion of the Student Union ‘Sports Fed’ funding to set up an Access to Sport Hardship Fund, where students can apply for sports items that are non-shareable (i.e. gum-shields, socks, sports bras) if they are struggling financially.
With the developments of the SportBrighton and BSU future relationship still underway, there is no confirmation if the current bidding process will stay the same and therefore the SU has reached out to Santander to apply for a grant to provide an Access to Sport, Hardship Fund. Santander has responded with a grant of £1500!
Details of the process of application and eligibility criteria are still in discussion, but this is a massive win for all our sports clubs and should allow students who may not have previously participated due to cost, to get involved.
As I am now leaving my position of Vice President Activities, the BSU President will ensure that you are updated with the feedback from the meeting with all the Stakeholders at the earliest opportunity, along with any proposed details such as the time and duration of carrying out the work.
Please feel free to reach out to the President: Calvin Jude Jansz at BSUPresident@brighton.ac.uk