In 2012, a Sport Wales grant was given to SFW - a social inclusion project partnership between Gwalia and other statutory and voluntary sector partners - to develop a core group of coaches to bring additional playing opportunities within the SFW East and West League for homeless and socially excluded people.
In training up the participants themselves, the hope was that the work would also boost the confidence and self -esteem of those who took part.
"Our project predominantly involves male and females over the age of 16 who are homeless and socially excluded,"
said project leader Keri Harris.
"We started in Swansea in 2004 but we now give access to weekly sessions across Wales- including Caernarfon, Flint, Conwy, Wrexham, Carmarthen, Llandovery, Swansea, Newport and Cardiff.
"Essentially we engage with those furthest away from mainstream sports provision. Some activity was going on already, particularly in the West around Swansea, but this project was put in place to develop more opportunities and ensure future sustainability and engagement through a workforce development programme."
The grant helped fund a new league structure in South East Wales, additional teams in the existing league structures, opportunities for those from BME communities and a trained workforce to support activity and offer additional opportunities for other groups.
The SFW participants are now actively involved within their communities, not only delivering weekly training sessions but also as part of forums for third sector mental health organisations and services for refugees and asylum seekers, among others.
"By being involved in community services in this way the coaches have had a positive impact on service users' physical well-being and ability to make healthier lifestyle choices, "
"Participants have also developed exit routes for some players to enter mainstream sport and have a positive impact in communities as coaches, sports leaders and first aiders.
"It has also helped build their CVs, improve their skills, experience, qualifications and provide potential future employers with a checkable history and reference, and move them closer to employability and social inclusion.
"The reality is that many of the players would find it difficult to engage in mainstream football training and volunteer programmes and require these opportunities in a safe and friendly environment."
Success At A Glance
During the 2012 season SFW carried out the Distance Travelled Questionnaire (DTQ) with participants rating themselves on a scale of 1 - 10 in relation to a number of life areas. The DTQ was completed at participant's first contact and again at the end of the season. They show significant benefits beyond the football pitch, including:
- 76% of participants housing situation improved
- 63% of participants mental health improved
- 77% of participants confidence and self-esteem improved
- 64% of participants relationships with support improved
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This story supports the following 2026 objectives:
Get 75% of young people and young adults hooked on sport
Positively target the participation gap within inequality