The Tower Hamlets Youth Sport Foundation emerged as the School Sports Partnership was tragically cut. Whilst continuing the outstanding work of the Borough’s School Sport Partnership remains at the Foundation’s core, it also has a wider responsibility for youth sport and is ensuring that delivery and support directly to young people will improve in quantity and quality.
The Partnership’s focus has always been to ensure a child’s background and circumstances do not restrict them and the Foundation will continue working towards a structure and service that not only allows our young people to experience the same opportunities as those in more affluent, greener or club-rich Boroughs receive, but ideally better them.
Despite year on year successes and unprecedented progress in youth sport, in the comprehensive spending review of October 2010 the coalition Government took an axe to the national School Sport Partnership programme.
At that point, the overwhelming opinion of the majority of schools, families and most importantly, young people in Tower Hamlets, was that the Borough’s school sport partnership was an essential service that must survive at all costs.
The value of school sport partnerships was endorsed by 75 Olympic athletes, numerous key sporting and political figures, virtually every national newspaper, TV and radio outlets and even the Head of State who dedicated her Christmas message to the issue of school sport.
The high-profile, national campaign was spearheaded by over 150 Tower Hamlets students and staff. They collected over 10,000 signatures from Borough residents in just two weeks and then led a national lobby in Westminster where former Stepney Green and current Sir John Cass 6th Form student Shuheb Karim met the minister responsible and delivered those petitions to Downing Street.
This led to a reprieve of one day per week funding for School Sport Coordinators and National School Games Organiser posts but the Tower Hamlets School Sport Partnership and the services schools had become accustomed to would not survive on this alone.
Partnership staff and key figures in Tower Hamlets education continued to campaign and negotiate to ensure the service continued. Our always innovative local authority committed to part support the programme and the majority of our positive, forward-thinking schools also agreed to buy into the services they had enjoyed for the previous six years, before pupil premium.
An interest from several private companies (most notably our great partners, Lloyd’s of London) to also support the Partnership’s work convinced management and key stakeholders that to become a charitable foundation was a logical step.