This Girl’s Ability: Empowering disabled girls and young women through sport

by Issy Walker | May 03, 2023 | Stories

This Girl’s Ability: Empowering disabled girls and young women through sport

• Raised £9,370 from 89 supporters
• +£4,500 Extra funding from Sport England: Active Together
• Providing sports and creative opportunities for disabled girls and young women.

This Girl’s Ability is a non-profit organisation that works to provide sports and creative opportunities to girls and young women with disabilities.

Based in the London Borough of Havering and Chelmsford, Essex, they offer an exciting range of activities for young people. These include creative hobbies, access to sports, volunteering opportunities and workshops.

This Girl’s Ability seeks to tackle loneliness by encouraging meaningful relationships with peers, assisting in the prevention and management of poor mental health, and enhancing physical well-being. They also promote equal access to sports and developing creative ways of adapting and modifying activities to ensure their sports sessions are more inclusive and that all young people experience the rewards of being part of a team.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, disabled people were severely affected with low activity levels. And now, with the cost of living crisis, their activity programmes are needed more than ever. In order to meet this increase in demand, they set up a Crowdfunder to raise the vital funds they needed.

We spoke to Nikki Fairbairn, one of the founders of This Girl’s Ability; “We chose Crowdfunder after we joined their free webinar, and the platform looked easy to use. It was helpful to see other projects who had already met their targets, and this gave us the confidence that we were in the right place to kickstart our non-profit organisation. Crowdfunder is a well-known fundraising platform, and we were confident it could give our new organisation more exposure. They were fantastic at providing us with marketing tips through regular email updates and pushed us to seek more media exposure which we did through local newspapers and radio stations.”

“We were lucky to receive the support of comedian Rosie Jones who kindly shared our campaign with her fan base exposure. Rosie has since joined our organisation as a Patron. We were overwhelmed that it generated interest and received donations from people from the wider community.”

“Since crowdfunding, our project has had a positive impact on our local community, providing girls and young women with disabilities access to much-needed sports/physical activities in a safe, friendly, and non-judgemental environment. At least 40% of our current members participated in less than 30 minutes of physical activity each week, with a further 29% taking part in less than 60 minutes of the government’s recommended guidelines of 120-180 minutes for disabled children and young people.”

“We have been fortunate to offer our members regular group interaction through weekly activities. Children and teenagers with disabilities can often feel lonely, and it has been fantastic to see new friendships blossoming between members who are now more physically present in their community.”

“The exposure of our work on socials has also led to other opportunities in our community for our young people and families. Recently West Ham United Women invited our group as guests to a match as part of their Level Playing Field Unite for Access campaign. The shared experience was fantastic for the girls, who also went onto the pitch after the match and met some of the players.”

The crowd rallied around their project, with one supporter commenting, “A big thank you to all the sponsors, supporters and organisers. Without this project my Alina would not be part of amazing activities that give equal opportunity to our abled girls 💪”

In the end, This Girl’s Ability achieved their initial target and went on to raise £9,370 from 89 members of the community. This included £4,500 in funding from Sport England: Active Together.

Nikki went on to say; “Unlocking the extra funding from Sport England gave us a huge confidence boost and made us feel like we had the backing of our community and that they could see value in what we wanted to achieve. The extra funding has allowed us to buy specialist equipment to create inclusive sessions, and we are in a position where we can add new equipment to our kit when needed. Our young people share with us what activities they would like to try, and we can keep the sessions fresh by inviting different sports providers to join us.”

“We have been lucky to receive small grants to support some of our programmes, and the money from Sport England gives us the stability of knowing that when these end, we can continue a popular session. The extra funding boost from Sport England gave us hope that we could reach our target, and we are massively thankful to them and our community, who got us over the final hurdle and wanted us to succeed.”

After such a successful first experience of crowdfunding, and receiving the +Extra funding from Sport England, we asked Nikki and the team at This Girl’s Ability for their top crowdfunding tips.

“If you are thinking about crowdfunding, our top tips would be to seek support from friends, family, organisations, and local businesses to offer a great range of rewards. We were overwhelmed by their support, don’t be afraid to ask! These made a massive difference and were a great way to entice supporters. We don’t believe we would have unlocked the extra funding without them!”

“Don’t be disheartened if you have a few slow donation days. Keep marketing your campaign consistently and posting regular updates on your page. Ask your social media contacts to share your campaign. We were so lucky to have dedicated supporters routing for us who regularly shared our campaign for a wider reach.”

“Another tip is to take on board the support from the Sport England Team. Our Programme Manager, Neil Smith, was a godsend in sharing information on making our campaign as strong as possible. The team have supported so many successful campaigns and knows what works!”

Feeling inspired? Find out if you could receive up to £10,000 from the Sport England: Active Together fund!

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