27 May, 2024

Supporting under-represented communities and growing the sport forms a key part of Badminton England’s work behind the scenes.

Thanks to the efforts of regional managers like Rebecca Lewis, community groups and volunteers can easily find information on programmes Badminton England offer and the impact these will have on their community.

One such collective is the Sunnyside Community Group, a Muslim group based in Bolton who provide support to people from a range of backgrounds, including the elderly and those with a disability.

Sunnyside have recently introduced badminton sessions to their members through No Strings Badminton, Badminton England’s national participation programme offering low-cost, fun and engaging sessions.

Lewis said: ‘‘I was contacted by Sunnyside to continue to help with their work and they had indoor cricket for a men’s only session before with good take-up and they wanted to expand it to other sports they were interested in like badminton.

‘‘They said they’ve got a lot of people in the community where physical health isn’t thought of and they wanted to facilitate some sessions to make it part of their weekly routine.

‘‘I went to visit them in their community centre and from that meeting, found out they were all keen to get started, had fun memories of playing the sport when they were younger and playing at school.”

‘‘We decided to get funding granted from Sport England and I helped them to write a bid and to create a full programme.

“Through that work that we did, we created a men’s only session, a women’s only session and a disability session so it was quite a big project.”

Through the sessions, the project aims to develop a sense of community, social connections and inclusivity by addressing specific needs of each tailored demographic.

Physical and learning disability sessions have ensured everyone has the opportunity to participate and benefit from fun and inclusive activity.

Women’s only sessions have further fostered a strong sense of community and older men’s sessions have, likewise, provided socialisation and health benefits while promoting an active lifestyle.

Funding has covered expenses as well as targeting promotion to ensure the programme’s sustainability and make a positive impact on the well-being of diverse community members.

On the progress of the programme, Lewis added: ‘‘It started over 10 weeks, and it expanded across a whole year and eventually we got enough to cover everything from facility hire to equipment and some courses.

‘‘It’s started now, it’s underway and so far, so good.’’

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