I can’t wait to experience the buzz and meet everyone who is working so hard to make Sport 4 Life the success it is!

By Pam Wilde, Trustee & Strategic Marketer.

Virtual, yet again!

The plan was to hold our Quarter 4 Board meeting in person at the fabulous new Sport 4 Life Custard Factory offices. I was particularly excited about this as I have not yet had the opportunity to visit them, nor met any of my colleagues in person!

With lockdown restrictions finally easing on 19th July it was looking good for a meet up for the 13th August Board meeting. But this time we were thwarted by the holiday season with a proportion of the Trustees being away on their hols! It’s really positive that we are starting to return to more normal activities like going out to meet people away from home, and going away on holidays with our friends and family. Things like this help us to feel better about ourselves and the future.

That’s what I find so tremendous about Sport 4 Life and what we are looking to achieve. Providing opportunities for young people to help them create the future they want and can feel good about.

Pam Wild - Sport 4 Life UK Trustee

Virtual Board Meetings

So, onto the virtual board meeting and the usual delays in joining the Google meet call, forgetting to turn your microphone on when talking, and even worse forgetting to turn it off when you are mumbling to yourself in the background. Spending the vast majority of my working day on non-camera enabled conference calls, I forgot I was on Google meet and so rocked up to the meeting wearing my sports gear ready for the gym later on.

Tom, founder and CEO, was, as ever, impeccably dressed. He was also sporting a very interesting backdrop of a selection of framed photos arranged on a wall that looked suspiciously like the colour I painted my bedroom during a particularly long week in lockdown 2020 – a deep Indian yellow gold.

Hitesh, our Chair, sported smart casual attire and as ever kept us moving through the agenda items and challenging selected issues. That’s an aspect of the Trusteeship which I love. The opportunity to look at progress against strategy and review strategic direction from a slightly detached perspective which enables you to focus on key aspects rather than get caught up in the day to day operational aspects.

Tom is highly organised with Board documentation and adept at talking us through the main points to note. This meeting covered the usual agenda items, but Tom also touched on the full year results. More of those later in my blog. Being a marketer, I always enjoy reviewing the Digital Marketing report, which this month threw up some interesting trends as we are emerging from lockdown. Social media channels remain popular across the board, particularly Instagram and Twitter, and it’s great that YouTube forms one of those channels as people share their experiences as they happen, or post vlogs.

15 year celebration

The financial year marked the 15th anniversary of Sport 4 Life. For the organisation to have reached where it is now, and impacted the lives and wellbeing of so many young people during that time is phenomenal. Now, more than ever, the work that Sport 4 Life does and the difference it makes to people’s wellbeing and aspirations is fantastic.

To mark this 15 year milestone and also the recent opening of the new offices, Tom will be hosting a modest celebratory get-together in September. Occasions like this are useful for looking back on what you have achieved and the difference you have made. And provide confidence that you can continue to make a real difference to more young people in the future.

The Financial report

Tom presented the full year results for 2020/2021. Despite all the recent challenges for everyone and a difficult operating environment, Sport 4 Life posted some strong results for the last financial year with growth in key areas. Revenue and activities grew, including placement of NEETs – young people who have fallen out of the education system, are not working or in training for work. This NEET placement target is critical in supporting young people when they need it most in a way that is accessible to them. The last 18 months have been challenging for everyone, but particularly for this group. So it was pleasing that an increasing number of these young people are benefiting from our sports-themed personal development services delivered in a fun, supportive environment. It demonstrates that it is possible to build your skills and confidence enough to get a training place, a work placement or start an educational course.

Having just fallen short of the magic £1m revenue number this year (but still exceeding target), the intention is to exceed that milestone this coming year. Revenue is crucial as the more funding Sport 4 Life has the bigger difference we can make to young people’s futures.

One item on the agenda following a discussion at our recent Away Day – another virtual meeting! – was how we can use our network of contacts to make introductions to Sport 4 Life. As a charity this is really important. It’s not just a Trustee activity. Everyone can be an advocate for Sport 4 Life and make a difference by reaching out to their contacts – however few of them you feel you have. It may seem small, but add together people’s smaller networks and that’s a large group who will tell their networks and so the message grows. Sharing existing content or posts with your network is an easy way that’s not time consuming.

So hopefully next time I write a blog I will have met my colleagues in person at our 15 year celebrations. It’s not quite the same as raising a glass in front of the computer!

Pam Wilde