Kidsgrove Sports Centre: outstanding community facilities for all

by Rachel | Aug 09, 2022 | Stories

Kidsgrove Sports Centre: outstanding community facilities for all

To provide affordable sport and leisure facilities to their community, a group in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire, enlisted the help of Sport England and the crowd. 

After opening for the first time in 1973, Kidsgrove Sports Centre became a staple of the community. It served thousands of local residents and school children for over 40 years, offering a place to swim, play sports, and socialise.

Sadly in 2017, Newcastle Borough Council made the decision to close the centre. It was devastating for the community and people rallied around to set up the Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group with the purpose of reopening the centre as a charitable and community led organisation. 

Fortunately, a newly appointed Council Leader and administration came into office. The new Leader was supportive of the group’s vision, enabling an exciting phase of business planning and discussion to begin. In the end, the Council committed to funding a £7.5 million renovation scheme for the Kidsgrove Sports Centre, which would be leased to the charity once the refurbishment work was completed. In addition to this, Sport England have invested in the refurbishment via a CAF award to the Council.

Council members walk through a building site wearing hard hats.

Once open, the new centre would offer a 6 lane swimming pool, a 4 court sports hall, a large fitness suite and gym, along with a dance studio, a dedicated spin/indoor studio, community rooms and facilities, and a physiotherapy room! These facilities would be affordable and available to everyone in the community, promoting community involvement and an improvement in mental and physical health.

With the costs for the renovation covered, the group still needed to acquire the funding for equipment, fixtures, and fittings. After all, they wanted to ensure the centre would offer a high quality experience which demonstrated the true potential of community power. 

Hoping to raise the additional £30,000 in funding that they needed to equip the new centre, they set up a crowdfunding campaign

Mark Clews, Volunteer and Trustee for Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, explained, “Following conversations with Sport England, it was suggested that we looked at crowdfunding as a possible solution to our funding shortfall. We had never utilised this funding strategy previously, however following initial investigations it felt like an option which could well be successful, given our large passionate local community. 

“Crowdfunding for us was a vital element of our funding strategy to enable us to reopen Kidsgrove Sports Centre. Without it, we would not have had the capital that was required to equip the facility.” 

After 42 days, their crowd of 185 supporters had raised an incredible £30,265 and an estimated £2,140.75 in Gift Aid. This included a boost of £10,000 from the Power to Change Community Business Crowdmatch and another £10,000 from the Sport England Places and Spaces fund

“We were fortunate enough to be able to unlock additional funding from Sport England and Power to Change. Both agreed to match fund our campaign up to £10,000 each, meaning that potentially we could raise a vital £30,000 in total towards our goal. This funding was really useful as a motivational tool for both ourselves and our community, as once we unlocked the additional funding, we achieved our target of £30,000 within a couple of hours!” 

He continued, “This funding has been vital as it has enabled us to purchase a wide range of equipment for the centre, meaning that the facility will be operational in July. We are just as excited as our community for the positive impact this will have on overall physical, mental and social well being.” 

Equipment at a swimming pool in a sports club that has been crowdfunded.

Needless to say, we’re looking forward to hearing an update from Mark and his team when the centre opens later this year. 

When asked if he had any top tips and advice for others thinking about crowdfunding for their own dream, Mark told us, “We won’t pretend that it was easy because it took a considerable amount of hard work to ensure that we hit our target. However, if you invest the time and devise a strategy from the onset, you will have every chance of hitting your target. We would argue that the most important strategy to success is to invest the time, and believe in your cause, as that makes sharing your cause and passion much simpler. 

“We found that having a large existing social media presence was key to success, as this enabled us to reach our audience instantly. However, also having good links with local businesses and media outlets helped as we were able to offer some rewards for donations, whilst also being able to get our Crowdfunder out to the widest possible audience. We were also fortunate that we were able to get video messages of support from high profile sports personalities such as Adam Peaty and Imran Tahir who helped to raise the profile of our campaign.” BBC News Stoke & Staffordshire also covered Kidsgrove’s story on a couple of occasions this year, once in March and again in June.

“We would certainly recommend crowdfunding as a fundraising strategy, though you need to be realistic in your targets and put in lots of time and effort to achieve success!” 
Feeling inspired? Find out if you could be eligible to unlock +Extra funding for your sports club from Sport England’s Places and Spaces fund!

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