Robbie Cuthbert, Community Sport Hub Development Officer for Inverclyde

Joined-up thinking

One man helps put two community sport hubs at the heart of their neighbourhoods

Community Sport Hubs are one of the key Legacy 2014 commitments for sportscotland and the Scottish Government. They work to bring together sport clubs and key local partners, including local authorities, who want to develop and grow the number of sports and physical activities in their local communities.

Community Sport Hubs in numbers

In March 2016, sportscotland announced it had surpassed the Scottish Government’s target of reaching 150 Community Sport Hubs with 153 operational hubs across the country.

  • There is now at least one community sport hub in each of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
  • A new £6 million National Lottery investment over four years will further develop existing hubs to help reach a new target of 200 by 2020.
  • Investment of £1.5 million a year started in 2010, which means that, by 2020, some £13.5 million will have been invested in the hubs.

But it’s not all about numbers

Getting a Community Sport Hub up and running takes knowledge of the local area, support from the local community, time, passion, commitment and patience. Here we see how one man helped make establish two community sport hubs right at the heart of the local community.

Inverclyde’s Community Sport Hub journey

When Robbie Cuthbert became the Community Sport Hub Development Officer for Inverclyde in October 2012, he brought with him a wealth of experience, both from his sports development role with North Ayrshire Leisure, and his strength and conditioning work at the west region of the sportscotland institute of sport. He ploughed all of this into the conception, development and delivery of two successful Community Sport Hubs at Ravenscraig and Gourock. Here’s what happened:

Ravenscraig Community Sports Hub

Base: Inverclyde Academy

Sports: Athletics, football, netball, hockey, basketball

To get Ravenscraig up and running, Robbie spent crucial time building relationships with the clubs and developing connections with the school, Active Schools and PE department to champion partnership working and to establish a common vision everyone could work towards.

Making connections behind the scenes

All this behind-the-scenes work was essential before inviting the local community to get involved and raising awareness of what was available at the hub.

Crucially, Robbie also met with the local clubs to identify a representative from each to champion their views at the hub committee. To do this, he worked with a strong group of volunteers and leaders such as Gerry Gaffney to drive the hub forward. Gerry, a former general manager at the Ministry of Defence, now shares his time between his role as volunteer Chair of Ravenscraig Hub and his work as Club Together Officer for scottishathletics. He makes an invaluable contribution to the smooth running of the hub, ensuring the committee meets regularly, the agenda and minutes are on time, and actions and plans are on track to be delivered. 

Support breeds progress

Speaking about the hub, Gerry said: “Our members are willing to share information and support each other in all of the hub’s activities, which benefits them and the hub as a whole. As President of Inverclyde Athletic Club, we’ve benefited hugely from the support we receive as part of the Ravenscraig hub.”

Ravenscraig has now experienced real progress, with its offering to the local community solidified and strong links made between the clubs who work in partnership. A new junior basketball club has also been formed to provide a pathway for younger players to the senior team.

Since 2013, the average annual increase in membership across the five clubs is 95%. Most of this increase is due to the basketball club, which saw its membership increase by four times its original number.

Gourock Community Sport Hub

Base:  St Columba’s High School

Sports:  Golf, table tennis, football, cricket, archery

A year after work began at Ravenscraig, things started taking shape at Gourock too. Like all hubs, volunteers have been crucial to its progress, with Secretary Jim Murphy and committee member Ian McNaughton acting as integral cogs which keep things moving forward. They both help to keep partners focused on the vision and priorities.

Bringing experience and direct links back to their clubs — cricket and golf respectively — means they have been able to benefit from being part of the hub structure.

Hubs helping clubs

Ian — Junior Convenor of Gourock Golf Club, which is affiliated to the Gourock hub — said: “Our success at the golf club has included an increase in junior involvement and membership, and the development of new and existing volunteers. It could not have been achieved to such a level without the participation and support of the Gourock Community Sport Hub.”

Jim added: “Being members of the Gourock Community Sports Hub has given added impetus to our ‘Growing Cricket in Inverclyde’ initiative and has been of significant help to our Junior Cricket Coaching Programme which is run with the assistance of Inverclyde Active Schools.

The committee is now keen to expand the hub offering, with two new clubs in the pipeline — yachting and curling — and Robbie acting in an advisory role. Robbie said: “I’m delighted to see collaborative working between the clubs and Active Schools and it’s clear that mutual understanding of the benefits has helped to make this happen.

“As Ravenscraig and Gourock continue to go from strength to strength through the self-governing leadership of their volunteers and committees, people like Jim and Ian, I’m now able to focus on our newest local hub, based in Port Glasgow.”

As Robbie has demonstrated, the benefits of working in partnership in sport, towards common goals for local people, have been embraced in this forward-thinking community.

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