Girvan Community Sport Hub was established in 2015 and has been committed to providing the local community in Girvan and South Carrick with a sustainable sports provision, joining up clubs and schools, creating partnerships and using sport as a tool for development.
That Friday Thing is one of the flagship projects at the hub, now offering more than 160 young members of the local community the chance to come together in a safe space and enjoy a number of fun, free activities.
Bringing clubs together
Three years ago, That Friday Thing was created through a partnership between Girvan Academy, Sport Development South Ayrshire, Active Schools, the Girvan Community Sport Hub and Girvan Youth Trust. A consultation by the PE department at the school had identified that 75 per cent of young people were looking for something to do on a Friday night and the lack of opportunity was contributing to anti-social behaviour.
The weekly project, named by the young people who attend, offers local school pupils from P6 upwards a variety of sports to try such as volleyball, handball and basketball. There are now 23 clubs associated with the hub and all get involved in the provision of tasters and sessions.
The programme was set up as a diversionary measure to tackle anti-social behaviour by providing sport and physical activity opportunities as well as volunteering projects to young people.
What began with two youth workers and a member of the PE department supervising sessions has grown to the point where two former sport academy pupils and That Friday Thing participants are employed as coaches. These coaches support the young leaders to run the sessions and develop their skills.
Connor Watt, project coordinator at the hub, said: "Girvan Community Sport Hub is a fantastic example of how partnership working with a number of different groups can enable a community to come together to improve.
"Since coming here the leaps we have made in terms of opportunities for the community to take part in physical activity have been astounding.
"Our successes so far are down to our young volunteers and local partners who have got behind the ethos and aims of the hub. Without the support of these people we wouldn’t be what we are."
Members also have the opportunity to develop their coaching and leadership skills. S6 pupils at Girvan Academy who are part of the sports academy help to deliver the sessions and have been supported to undertake their coaching badges and other training such as first aid.
Sport Academy is a partnership working approach from South Ayrshire Active Schools, the hub and Girvan Academy developed to grow the local offering of sport coaches in the area. Project volunteers have progressed through Sport Academy and volunteering to paid employment and courses at universities, thanks to the experience and development provided by the hub.
“We pride ourselves on being able to ‘grow our own’ talented volunteers and deliverers," said Connor.
"It’s great to see community members giving back to the club and returning to take on coaching roles, and progress to achieve things they aspire to.”
Caitlin Flanagan is one of the sport coaches at the project and a former participant at the club. She said: "That Friday Thing is a great way of giving you experience of working with children of all ages to provide them with opportunities to try new sports.
"It is so rewarding when you begin to see the development of these children, whether it's improving in sport or gaining more confidence around their peers."
Putting community need first
Girvan and surrounding communities are affected by alcohol and drugs abuse and the club provides a welcome and safe space for 166 young people. Being rural also presents challenges with the lack of accessible public transport.
Previously, sports provision in the area came with a fee and as a result, numbers were low and engagement almost non-existent. Part of Connor's role is to look at external funding opportunities to ensure that this valuable community provision can continue to be accessible to all.
That Friday Thing is just one of many successful programmes run by the hub, whose Easter and summer school holiday activity caters to community members from P1 up to the age of 18, and this year more than 900 young people enjoyed a variety of sports taster sessions. The Girvan Park Run project has been set up to give local people the chance to walk, jog or run 5km every week.
A priority focus for the hub in 2018 is to grow the reach of the hub to local communities in outlying villages. Clubs have been established in Dailly and Barr as a starting point to this work, building on the success and interest generated by holiday pop-up sport sessions, breaking down barriers to participation.
Connor and the team have plans to deliver sport sessions in the most deprived areas of the community on a weekly basis, addressing issues of physical inactivity and providing health and wellbeing knowledge through family workshops. Parklives is a partnership with Street Games which makes use of local green/outdoor spaces.
Also in the making is an employability programme that will help local young people become more attractive to potential employers. The programme has been designed following consultation with the the local leisure centre and South Ayrshire’s employability and skills team, and will involve training young people to work in a leisure centre and providing them with the skills they would need to get a job in the industry.
Young community members will also soon have the opportunity to become part of the Girvan Community Sport Academy, which will offer training and mentoring through shadowing qualified coaches and youth workers to be able to deliver sessions throughout the South Carrick Community - specifically in the outlying villages.
Find out more
Community sport hubs are National Lottery-funded. One of sportscotland's key programmes, hubs contribute to legacy and support local sport clubs to play their part in a world class sporting system.