Alumni News – Spartans Community Football Academy

19th April 2021

“Encouragement does for people what hot air does to the balloon.”
– The Spartans Community Football Academy, on one phrase to sum up the charity’s relationship with IICF UK.

As part of celebrating the IICF UK’s impact over the last 5 years, we spoke to one of the IICF UK grant recipients Spartans Community Football Academy to catch up with how their work has developed since their grant award.

Spartans Community Football Academy helps to improve the quality of people lives in our local community. It exists to have a positive social impact and to change lives through the power of sport and people.

The Academy is a registered charity based in North Edinburgh, an estate made up of 36 Data Zones. According to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (most recent survey), 14/36 data zones in North Edinburgh are classed as deciles 1 & 2, ie the most deprived.

The Academy delivers a wide range of programmes across several key thematic areas, namely education, youth work, physical activity, health and well-being.

Since opening our doors in 2008, the Academy has become deeply embedded in our local community; it works closely with local primary schools. The Academy facilities are recognised as providing a ‘social home’ for local people, providing a safe, accessible, and inclusive space for people of all ages from all backgrounds. Academy staff and volunteers (‘blue coats’) are recognised as local positive role models.

The IICF UK’s Associate Board had an opportunity to sit down with Spartans to learn more about the charity. The Q&A from the sessions is below.

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Q&A – Getting to know Spartans Community Football AcademY

Who are the main people your charity helps, and how does your charity do this?
Our focus is on helping low income households in our local community. Working closely with a wide range of local community partners – most notably the local Head Teachers – we provide a range of different services.

Our charity works with people of all ages, from all backgrounds – from pre-school aged children at Nursery Nutmegs or Little Dribblers, to the opposite end of the scale supporting the elderly at Walking Football.

The largest demographic of people we support and provide a range of services for are children and young people. For example, through our youth work-based provisions we are able to provide consistent support. Crucially, our children’s and young people youth work-based provisions are free to attend for the young people who come along. This helps to remove a key barrier to participation and the associated stigma of being unable to access leisure and social activities. In all our youth work clubs, young people who attend are provided with a snack and/or hot meal.

Are there any specific projects you charity does that have been particularly successful?
Since opening our doors in December 2008, the Academy has won various national awards. It is recognised as an exemplar project in the world of changing lives through sport.

How do grants from organisations help your charity?
Grants enable us to test a proof of concept around innovative ideas and solutions around how to tackle some of the deep-rooted social needs and issues in our local community.

Grants can give us a chance to pilot, to test new ideas, to fall over and take time to reflect and bank the learnings. Enabling us to create a delivery model and a proposition based on our learning and actual results.  Grants can provide us with the gift of time to prove an idea works; they can also provide other funders with confidence to come on board.

Your charity was awarded an IICF grant, which project did the grant help? How has the charity changed and grown?
The IICF UK provided funding over 3 years towards our Alternative School project. Our School started off 5/6 years ago with 2-3 students being supported for 2 x ½ days per week. Today the school provides 16 x scholarship places for 2 full days per week. The Academy is recognised as a viable provider of alternative curriculum across the whole city.

What impact has COVID-19 had on your charities activities?
COVID-19 has had a significant impact.  As a result, we have had to reduce the numbers allowed on site to take part in our various programmes. Sadly, our trading income has been heavily hit. The article below from our website and short film will provide you with an overview of how we pivoted as an organisation to become a food distribution hub.

Where do you see your charity going in the next 5 years?
Our charity will continue to grow, continue to work with local partners to deepen our social impact. Just now we are in talks with a GP around the possibility of creating a new GP practice on site within our footprint, initially to serve 3,000 patients, increasing to 6,000. We are constantly exploring and considering ways to upscale and diversify in our thematic areas of expertise.

How can the IICF and their supporter’s help you get there?
Connecting our charity to organisations within the network who are keen to provide their people with rich development opportunities through volunteering. Supporters can help us get there through encouraging people in the network to invest some of their time and emotional energy into supporting the Academy on our journey.

Support from the IICF UK has been key to the charity on a number of fronts.  For example, the grants have enabled the charity to invest in their delivery model and helped them to scale up. The long-term commitment and continuation funding was key as it helped to give them time to develop and fine tune their proposition and to implement lessons learned year on year.

Contact us

Contact us to learn how you can get involved.

Executive Director IICF UK
71-75 Shelton Street,
London WC2H 9JQ