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Community Foundation: Sponsor a Spark

As with many businesses and charities across the globe, Bristol Bears Community Foundation continues to face a number of challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lockdown period saw little income for the charity, with future funding also set to be cut by 30% during the new academic year. One of the programmes set to be hit the hardest is ‘Bright Sparks’ - a sport-based education and intervention programme that uses the unique values and ethics of rugby union to engage with and educate some of the most disaffected young people from areas of Bristol recognised as the 10% most deprived areas in the country.

We need some support…

Bristol is a city of geographical inequality and poverty with clear evidence that the place we live or are born will likely dictate our life chances. Bristol has 41 areas listed as the 10% most deprived in England, including three areas recognised as being the most deprived 1% in the country.

15% of Bristol residents live in the 10% most deprived areas of England, 18,900 of which are children and young people. Disadvantaged young people in Bristol are less likely to achieve in education when compared to their peers. Worryingly, this gap is increasing. Bright Sparks addresses a need by challenging the associated underachievement by those who come from low social economic and vulnerable groups.

The foundation has seen many of the typical grant funds that usually supports its work diverted to support those most affected by the impact of COVID-19. This has created an issue however for existing programmes such as Bright Sparks which already address the growing need around inequality. During the last three years, 90% of young people we have worked with are classed as disadvantaged. Not delivering these types of community programmes will only exasperate the challenges faced by young people and their families.

As a result, we are appealing for local businesses to ‘Sponsor a Spark’ and change a young person’s life for as little as £400.

Find out more about the Community Foundation and Bright Sparks below:

Bright Sparks programme

‘Bright Sparks’ is a sport-based education and intervention programme that uses the values and ethics of rugby union to effectively engage and educate some of the most disaffected young people from the most disadvantaged areas of Bristol. We also work with young people that are identified by a number of agencies as being at risk from issues such as permanent exclusion, anti-social behaviour and potential imprisonment.

The Bright Sparks programme continues to evolve from its inception 12 years ago as a programme that has proven success in engaging with some of the most disaffected young people in our region. Bright Sparks provides young people with the opportunity to learn new skills, gain a qualification, and realise the importance of education to their futures. As a result of engaging with the programme, young people understand that if they commit and work towards achieving their goals, they can be successful.

About the Community Foundation

Bristol Bears Community Foundation is Bristol Bears’ award-winning charity, delivering programmes that are proven to change the lives of people across the region. The registered charity works with over 8,000 people from the local community each year and is regularly recognised for its work on a national scale, winning ten Parliamentary Awards since 2008.

Through the power of sport, the Community Foundation aims to inspire every young and older person it works with, helping them to unlock their potential. The charity benefits tremendously from its well-established relationship with the club, its staff and players. The influence community coaches have on the people they work with is supported further by the fantastic engagement from the numerous role models across the players and club staff.

Our programmes cover four key areas; participation, health and wellbeing, education, and disability and inclusion. Well-qualified and experienced foundation staff deliver a number of community programmes in each area, last year working with children as young as five and participants in our older people provision beyond 100-years-old.  


Case Studies

I want to say a massive thanks and congratulations to Bristol Bears Community Foundation for the ‘Bright Sparks’ program.

As you are well aware, I am heavily involved in rugby, roles including RFU qualified coach (I am still coaching, Society referee, and former junior chairman.)

A few of the boys who I coach, took part in the early years of the Bright Sparks program, and in a few, we did see a big difference in them at the club, however, we always had a little laugh that it was “the naughty boys club.” This was due to our ignorance, and lack of insight into what the Bright Sparks program is all about.

However, this year, my middle child “B” was invited to take part. “B” has always struggled at school. Although he is a clever child, and could achieve high grades, unfortunately he struggles with concentration. As a youngster “B” struggled with speech and language delay, along with dyspraxia. He did not start writing until he was 6, and has never had any confidence with his own ability or body movement.

I have tried to get him to participate in sports, he has tried rugby, football, gymnastics, martial arts, cricket…the list goes on. But he has never felt confident enough, or shown the interest or desire to continue.

However, since he has been involved in the program, we have seen a great improvement from him. We are no longer getting the phone calls from the school saying that he is in trouble. His grades have improved. He is happier. We can see he has more confidence, not just about school, but everything. He is more confident with his body movements etc.

He thoroughly looks forward to his Bright Sparks sessions, and he now has a massive interest in rugby (you’ve managed to achieve something here, that myself and my other son have not managed to do in over 10 years!). His interest in rugby is so high now he came home the other week, and said “I wish I would have listened, and took rugby up sooner.” He feels he will never be good enough to play, however, he has become a big rugby fan (as we all know, these are the people who keep clubs running, from grass roots up to professional). He watches it all the time, he knows all the premiership stats, players etc. He now wants to come to the Bristol games with me. He has asked to go watch our first team play. He wants to watch his brother play. He has thoroughly enjoyed coming along and watching his brother play for the Bristol Bears u16s, wearing his hoodie with pride!

I want to say a massive thanks to you and now Simon in all the work you are doing.

This is just a change in one of the boys you are helping, if this is spread across the board, it shows what a great success the program is. Congratulations to yourself and all involved.


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