Many families in deprived areas of Bridgwater face health issues as a result of disadvantage. Children may suffer from physical and mental health problems such as ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, depression and food related problems, which affect their ability to take part in regular activities. The founder of small community charity Outdoor Challenge, Solveig Curran, was becoming increasingly concerned about the impact of children spending more time in front of TV and computers, partly because parents are scared to let their children out to play.
“Children being less active can lead to further health problems. Our organisation was set up to promote healthy living in the community by helping young people to be outdoors and engaged in activity. We especially look to target young people that are not normally engaged in team sports,” says Solveig
In early 2014 Somerset Community Foundation awarded the group £2,000 from Summerfield towards children’s activities to take place during the holidays. The group operates in the Hamp ward of Bridgwater, one of the most disadvantaged areas of the county. Outdoor Challenge particularly welcomes young people who don’t like conventional sporting activities, as Soveig explains: “Sadly this is often because the young people feel like they are a failure and have never been given the chance to develop skills”.
Part of the rationale for our funding was to set the group up on a more sustainable footing; allowing them some capacity to get additional staff and volunteers trained and set up core processes so that the group can expand. The group also wanted to produce some promotional material to attract more families to take part.
The funding has been used very successfully; both to run a series of activities and to strengthen the group and make it more sustainable. As a result of the funding, the group is now in a position to start a regular holiday club and a children’s club on one Saturday a month. They are registering as a charity and have strengthened their Trustees with some experienced personnel. They have also been able to offer more training to new volunteers. 65 people benefitted from the funding and 16 volunteers were involved.
The project’s support for children and young people to be more active has had a positive impact on children’s physical and mental health. The project has helped build both children and parent’s confidence and self-esteem and helped them feel part of a stronger community.
One parent commented:
“I am really thankful for the help and support I have received ... I have four children aged 1 and 14 and each of them has benefited tremendously from the group. ..My son with dyslexia finds school work hard, so being able to do fun outdoor activities in the holidays and at weekend has really boosted his confidence. It is so nice for him to be part of something he can feel he is good at.”
With the evidence of the beneficial impact of the activities on young people and their families growing, Solveig is positive about the future of the group. Of the Somerset Community Foundation grant she said:
“Thank you so much for the grant; it has made a significant difference to our community group. We applied as we were in need of financial support to make our group more sustainable and it has been a huge success. We have used the grant to strengthen our organisation for the future.”