Grassroots sport organisations are struggling under the cost of living crisis, with 94% of community sports groups saying they “fear the impact” of the financial pressures they are facing.
More worryingly, more than two-thirds (67%) of the groups expect the crisis will force children and young people out of participating in activities over the next six months – even when those activities are free.
The findings come from research by charity Sported, which surveyed more than 500 community sports groups across the UK. The research also found that 75% of groups expect their costs to go up by 50% on average.
More than half (51%) of community groups estimate that they need between £1,000 – £9,999 to support their cost of living priorities over the next six months, but almost 50% reported a drop in financial support (such as from local businesses, trusts and foundations) for their vital work in the community.
With groups facing increased costs from venue hire and energy bills, many fear for their group’s long-term viability. 72% of community sports groups have already been forced into changes to offset the impact of cost of living increases. This includes reducing membership fees, offering fewer sessions per week, or reducing the number of young people that can take part. Almost one in five groups fear they will need to halt activities altogether.
Nicola Walker, Chief Executive of Sported, added: “It is a really difficult time to be a young person growing up in the UK right now. Covid-19 has already disproportionately affected the most disadvantaged members of society, widening inequalities, and creating a time bomb in terms of mental health. The cost of living crisis will only exacerbate this.
“I know just how responsible our community groups feel for helping young people and many groups feel they are letting them down at a time when they most need help. I am alarmed that many groups will be forced to reduce their sessions or even close, which would have terrible lasting impact on young people and their local communities.”
Tottenham Hotspur and England footballer, Eric Dier, is one of the high-profile Sported ambassadors.
He visited Rap-Aid Youth Football Club in north London in October to highlight the positive impact that being part of a community sports group has on young people.
During his visit, Dier learnt about the challenges that the cost-of-living crisis has brought to community organisations.
“My visit to Rap-Aid was inspirational but also sobering. I’m very grateful to the group leaders and the young people I met for sharing their stories with me and it revealed how much the cost of living crisis has already impacted them. Young people desperately need community sports groups like Rap-Aid.
“It opens up so many opportunities that they all fully deserve. I am very concerned at what the next few months will bring and the lasting impacts this crisis will leave and I would urge people to do what they can to help keep the doors of these groups open.”