When it comes to changing lives, Inch Park Community Sports Club in Edinburgh is already having a transformative impact.
Inch Park is home to Lismore Rugby Club, Edinburgh South Community Football Club and Edinburgh South Cricket Club and currently has around 3,000 people each week engaging in activities either at the hub or organised by their development team.
Sport First met some of the people involved in the club to find out more about the positive impact Inch Park is having on the local community.
Sport for all
Inch Park provides sporting opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds across southern Edinburgh, with a specific focus on contributing towards a healthy and more active lifestyle for those taking part.
It also works closely with a number of local schools as part of the Active Schools programme as well as delivering extensive pre-school activities. But it is not just about creating participation opportunities. At Inch Park, sport is seen as a powerful vehicle to achieve lasting change on a number of levels, as Paul Reddish, the club chair, explains.
“The success of our project is built on its people.
"With compassionate coaches and volunteers interested in helping individuals be what they can be, sport really can change lives," says Paul.
"It can help people to create a new path. Our programmes have helped increase attainment, reduce anti-social behaviour, improve confidence skills and mental health and wellbeing in countless young people.
“It has given opportunities to disabled people who have been told before that sport is not for them. Inch Park and our partner clubs provide the environment for individuals to become successful, confident contributors to their community, whatever their personal story.”
Among the many people who have already benefited from the transformative change is Leah Carrigan, a pupil at Castlebrae Community High School who has used the power of sport to positively change her life. Leah was struggling to meet her potential in the classroom and was offered the chance to take part in rugby sessions at Inch Park with Lismore Rugby Club.
Since then Leah hasn’t looked back and apart from playing rugby regularly, she has also completed her UKCC Level 1 rugby coaching course, enabling her to be a role model for younger girls in the area. It has been a remarkable turnaround for Leah and she believes it is all down to the opportunities sport has afforded her.
“My life has changed dramatically as a result of sport," says Leah. "Before I started playing I was quite angry and aggressive but rugby as a sport allowed me to get a lot of that anger out. It has helped me to change in many ways and I am now a lot calmer and I listen more to those around me.”
Mark Cooper, who has cerebral palsy, is another who has benefited significantly from sport thanks to a partnership with Cricket Scotland to establish a disability hub in the area. Mark is a valuable member of the coaching team within the partnership where he delivers sessions as part of the disability outreach programme.
“Sport has played a central part in my life," says Mark. "As a disabled person I unfortunately can’t play sport. Inch Park have allowed me to practise my coaching whereas before I didn’t have that opportunity to pass on my knowledge and my competitive streak.
"I love it and if I had the opportunity that would be my job because I love to inspire people.”
£1m fund to deliver change
Inch Park Community Sports Club is one of the many clubs across the country that could benefit from a new £1million fund aimed at changing lives and creating a more inclusive and healthier nation.
The Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund is being launched in partnership between the Scottish Government, sportscotland, the Robertson Trust and Spirit of 2012, and will support organisations to deliver positive change in communities across the country.
The fund is part of a wider £1.8m programme that provides additional resource into the sporting and community sector to better address individual and community needs through sport and physical activity and also to support them to become and stay active.
Find out more
The fund is delivered by Spirit of 2012 as part of the Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity programme. Further information and details how to apply can be found at the Spirit of 2012 website.
There are Community Sport Hubs in all 32 local authorities in Scotland - find out more about your local hub.