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We don’t have a motto, and we don’t especially want one – but if we did, ‘football for all’ wouldn’t be a bad place to start. We work with local schools, councils, and community groups to ensure that no child is ever denied the wide-ranging benefits of regular football due to something as arbitrary as their personal circumstances. Our services are either free-to-access, or heavily subsidized by our bursary and scholarship scheme. Families who can’t pay, don’t – and their children receive exactly the same high-quality service as those who can. We reach approximately 5,000 children each year, and make an active effort to engage those communities who are most likely to have limited access to sporting opportunities: 55% of our participants are from BAME backgrounds, 33% receive free school meals, and 20% are girls.   

Modern society contains a cruel irony: sporting participation – which is widely recognized as a route out of poverty – is lowest among poverty-stricken communities. Given that 68% of our beneficiaries are from Camden, 8% from Westminster and 8% from Islington – boroughs with respective child poverty rates of 32%, 41% and 43% – Bloomsbury is uniquely well-placed to improve opportunities for lower income children.    

Equalizing access to regular football training is a public health imperative. The children of London are presently in the grip of a lifestyle-related health crisis: over 50% of UK children are failing to meet the recommended threshold of one hour of physical activity today, and 21% of children aged 10-11 are obese. This epidemic of inactivity among young people – and the attendant dangers to children’s health – is even more acute among the groups which Bloomsbury exists to serve: BAME children, lower-income kids, and girls. In offering high-quality sports coaching to all – with a particular focus on these more at-risk groups – we are working to improve the physical wellbeing of children from all backgrounds and circumstances.   

At Bloomsbury, we are also looking to mitigate the mental health issues which have become endemic among London’s children since the first national lockdown. Children’s social natures makes them ill-suited to isolation, and this fact – coupled with the fact that children’s quarantine spaces were often cramped and crowded – meant that adhering to social distancing came at a heavy psychological price for the children of London. By exploiting the long-established link between exercise and positive mental health outcomes, we seek to improve the psychological well-being of our beneficiaries: in fact, our surveys suggest that 95% of Bloomsbury participants feel happier after engaging with us.