The benefits of social and community development
Sport has many benefits as we know, supporting both our both physical and mental wellbeing. It also has the ability to break down barriers in society and bring people together. Whether this is through participation, volunteering or spectating.
Having shared interests is the foundations of most friendships and can also connect unlikely demographics together, including different ages, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. This intangible yet valuable asset that sport is, can help to build communities.
A study from Sport England has touched on the value of this in a recent report. Theycomment on how bringing communities together can make people feel better about where they live and build social capital. Social capital is largely related to the benefits gained from engaged social groups such as: values; trust; cooperation; and building of strong community relationships. Unlike capitals in terms of business (money/property) it does not deplete in use, instead, the more it is practised the more it grows and so the community continues to thrive.
One of the main take aways from growing social capital is improving social trust. This is belief in the honesty, integrity and reliability of others. Having this faith in people strengthens bonds amongst communities.
This can all be achieved and enhanced by sport. Whether that is running a local football club for children, cheering along at rugby matches or playing in a netball league- sport undoubtedly brings people together, regardless of their backgrounds.
This is something that SLS recognises and helps facilitate by opening up schools, academies and colleges during the evenings, weekends and school holidays. Allowing for the local communities to join together to enjoy the facilities and generate an income for the school; a great source of additional income which can be reinvested back into the school.