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Jun 22, 2017

Sport, young volunteers, and measuring wellbeing

StreetGames, a registered charity since 2007, make sport more widely available for disadvantaged young people. Through projects, such as their Doorstep Sports Clubs (DSCs), StreetGames strive to maximize the power of sport to improve young lives and to positively impact deprived communities.

DSCs are fun, accessible and affordable sports clubs that offer young people in disadvantaged communities opportunities to take part in sport/physical activity. StreetGames, alongside their network of local partners, have been developing DSCs since 2012. The DSC programme runs in England and Wales where it is supported by Sport England, Communities First and Sport Wales. Since 2012, over 90,000 young people aged 14-25 years have been engaged via 1,000+ DSCs.

A key aim of DSCs is to grow the knowledge, skills and confidence of participants so that they are motivated to be independently active in the long-term – ultimately developing lifelong sporting habits.

Evaluation: Doorstep Sports Clubs

StreetGames continually monitor and evaluate participant numbers and profiles, as well as attendance on the DSC programme. Session observations and conversations with participants and delivery staff provide further detailed information about the delivery and impact of the projects.

A participant survey in 2015 received over 550 responses. The survey included questions on the quality of DSC sessions, the social, economic and sporting needs of participants, physical and mental wellbeing, and personal development.

The survey also included a number of questions extracted from the ONS well-being survey, the responses to which showed a higher than average percentage of DSC participants scored in the ‘very high’ category for life satisfaction, happiness and worth.

Key Findings: Doorstep Sport Clubs

Participation, confidence & future engagement

69% of the participants reported that they are taking part in sport more regularly since they started coming to their DSC, with 75% attending at least once a week. 37% expressed that this was their only sporting outlet and the majority of those who do take part in sport, only do so at their school/college. Only 16% engage in a local sports club and even fewer (9%) attend sessions at a local leisure centre. This illustrates the crucial role DSCs play in facilitating and encouraging regular physical activity. 93% believe their DSC sessions are very good/good and in terms of future engagement with sport, 87% felt both confident and motivated to participate in sporting activity.

Life satisfaction, happiness & feeling that the things you do in life are worthwhile

Concerning wellbeing, compared with national data for 16-19 year olds, DSC participants scored significantly higher than average in the ‘very high’ category for happiness (53.7% compared to 36.5%), life satisfaction (51.8% compared to 31.9%) and worthwhile (49.2% compared to 32.1%).

StreetGames Young Volunteers

StreetGames emphasise the benefits of social action and volunteering. The StreetGames Volunteer programme offers volunteering opportunities for 16-25 year olds – helping them to make a positive difference by participating in their local community. A typical young volunteer will support and run local sport sessions and tournaments, assist at large-scale national sports events and learn how to coach sport and design youth-led activities. The programme aims to develop confidence, self-esteem and community leadership skills and volunteers have the opportunity to gain recognised awards and qualifications.

In addition to the opportunities for young people to volunteer at their doorstep sport sessions and/or one-off events, StreetGames also offer a number of full-time volunteer placements involving more intensive social action. Full-time volunteers are typically not in education or employment prior to their involvement in the placement (to date circa 120 full-time volunteer placements have been provided).

Evaluation: Young Volunteers

Through funding from the Cabinet Office Social Action Fund and BT Supporters Fund (Comic Relief), StreetGames undertook specific research to measure the impact of volunteering on their young volunteers, particularly in relation to youth potential, health and wellbeing and reducing Worklessness. This included using the Youth Outcomes Star impact assessment tool with full-time volunteers, which showed increased scores in all areas, including wellbeing. The tool charts ‘distance travelled’ (using a scale of 1-5) on a range of aspects including: education and work, making a difference, hopes and dreams, choices and behaviour, wellbeing, and communication. StreetGames also implemented a survey with over 300 young volunteers – which included questions from the NPC Wellbeing survey. The scores amongst the young volunteers were higher than a ‘control’ group in relation to emotional wellbeing, resilience, and Self-esteem. In-depth life grid interviews were also conducted with 18 long-term volunteers, with an over-arching summary analysis undertaken by Dr Carolynne Mason and Dr Caron Walpole from Loughborough University.

Key Findings: Young Volunteers

Interviews conducted with full-time volunteers and their mentors illustrate the importance of volunteering as a means of personal development and in supporting the transition into adulthood. There were frequent references to increased confidence, raised aspirations, improved social skills and acting independently. Interview data also indicated that volunteers were provided with key skills and experiences to help enable future employment opportunities.

The Youth Outcomes Star results demonstrate the progress of full-time volunteers during their placements, with the average starting score increasing from 3.0 to 4.1. The most notable increase in score was in ‘making a difference’, which increased on average from 3.0 to 4.4, followed by ‘communication’, which increased on average from 2.8 to 4.0 and ‘education/work’, which on average increased from 2.9 to 4.0.

The volunteer survey showed the majority of volunteers think positively about themselves, whilst also perceiving that others think positively of them. Most volunteers who completed the survey felt they had gained work related skills, including being able to problem solve (90%), work with others in a team (96%) and have a go at things that are new (94%).

Volunteers also responded positively to survey questions relating to their emotional wellbeing and resilience. 97% reporting that they had enjoyed their last volunteering experience. 87% of volunteers stated that they strongly agree or agree that they ‘like the way I am’, they ‘keep interested in things’, find life ‘really worth living’ and that their ‘life has meaning’.


There is clear evidence (see StreetGames DSC year 3 report), that DSCs are affecting an increase in physical and social wellbeing for young people through regular participation in sporting activity. Equally, StreetGames’ young volunteers are having a positive social impact by supporting the provision of sport for others, whilst simultaneously experiencing a benefit to their personal wellbeing, interpersonal skills and employment prospects (see StreetGames 2016 Young Volunteers Report).

Wellbeing and future work

StreetGames is firmly committed to improving the wellbeing and lives of young people living in areas of high deprivation. In line with new strategies from the DCMS and Sport England (which include an increased focus on wellbeing and those under-represented in sport), StreetGames will be looking to secure new investment from 2017 onwards, enabling existing DSCs to build upon their good work and meet the sport and physical activity needs of the different groups of young people in their target audience.

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Case study written by Jake Lane; For more information, please contact Ceris Anderson at: info@streetgames.org

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