News story

Community Action Through Sport (CATS) wins Big Society Award

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Cornwall and Devon organisation commended for recognising positive community action by young people through sport and social activities.

Originally established in 2005 in Bude, North Cornwall, Community Action Through Sport won a three-year BIG Lottery grant in 2011 to help its work in harnessing young people’s interest in sport around the Olympics. With the help of this funding they expanded from one branch to 15 across the South West in just over 2 years.

Each branch helped young people turn their ideas for positive community action into solid proposals, which were brought to life by local agencies. The organisation targeted young people of all backgrounds and helped children at risk of getting drawn into anti-social behaviour make a more positive contribution to their local area. The organisation also sought to re-balance negative perceptions of young people in the wider community.

The work being commended today covered 3 key themes:

  • anti-bullying campaigns and buddy programmes for primary schools
  • getting kids off the streets and into sport through outdoor activities such as canoeing
  • rewarding young people for tackling difficult issues in their communities through trips and sporting activities

One of the many successes over the last two years has been the ‘Friday Night Splash’. Inspired by the London 2012 Olympics, the ‘Splash’ was conceived by two 15-year-old girls who saw the link between teenagers having nowhere to go on a Friday night and nuisance behaviour in their home town of Bude. With a view to getting teens together, improving fitness and having a positive activity to do on a Friday night, the girls lobbied to get their local swimming pool to remain open until 9pm, and to reduce the entry fee from £3 to £1 to encourage young people to join them.

As well as up to 150 teenagers attending the Friday Night Splash each week, other benefits have also been realised, including:

  • the police seeing a reduction in youth loitering in Bude
  • fewer young people under-age drinking or causing a nuisance in their community
  • an increase in physical and outdoor activity by young people out of school
  • more interest in vocational qualifications including certifications in lifeguarding and instructing

Commenting on the award Prime Minister David Cameron said:

I’m delighted to award Community Action Through Sport a [Big Society Award] (http://www.bigsocietyawards.org “Big Society Award”) for their fantastic work in helping young people take positive action for their communities.

This worthwhile project has rewarded young people - of all backgrounds - with sporting activities, visits and trips for their positive contribution to their local communities. It has also helped young people help themselves through anti-bullying, skills and educational programmes.

The essence of the project is about engendering a culture within young people of making a positive contribution to their communities, which is then rightly recognised and rewarded.

And I’m pleased to see how the project has helped to realise wider benefits in their local areas such as reductions in crime, nuisance behaviour and under-age drinking.

I congratulate CATS for this well deserved Big Society Award.

Founder of CATS Denise May MBE, and Director of Sport and Assistant Headteacher at Budehaven Community School Said:

Community Action Through Sport are delighted to receive the Big Society award. It is testament to the ethos of CATS, which recognises young people for their positive contribution to their community. We firmly believe that volunteering is the inspiration, recognition is the key and sport is the driving force.

We believe sport is a wonderful way of channelling the energy of young people and promoting engagement and team spirit. What they learn through these activities can help in their careers, in their education, and even in the relationship they have with the wider community. Evidence has also shown that it helps with the crime rate in the community and the Police are one of our biggest supporters. We look forward to growing as an organization and helping more children make their ideas a reality.

CATS entered in the third year of their three year initiative. In this time they established 14 branches across Devon and Cornwall, and have run 22 sports diversionary programmes by this summer, through surfing, kayaking or other sports. Partnership and multi-agency work has proved an essential element of the success of the projects, with 14 established CATS branches with the target to develop more. CATS works to give support and ownership to young people in their own communities and this award will be gratefully received by all and hopefully enable more branches to be developed.

They have engaged with 124 primary and secondary schools in Cornwall and North Devon, as well as many community groups, thus rewarding and recognising more than 2,000 young people.