As rules and regulations relax, and then, tighten again, the impact Covid-19 has on our daily lives continues challenge us all. For many, it’s a continuation of working from home and limiting who you visit, and where. For social enterprises, it makes survival incredibly difficult.
Why does it matter? Aside from the obvious reason of employment, there is the social good these organisations provide that big conglomerates and ‘normal’ businesses simply don’t, because so much of what makes us human is not tied up in money, but in emotional connections and socialisation.
Social businesses provide a link to communities and supply what they need, they create a human connection that is not easily found in Tesco or Primark; someone to talk too, a shared space where people can meet, stay warm, have a hot drink, share knowledge, learn new skills, exercise together; human transactions that don’t cost a penny, but are worth their weight in gold.
How does Play It Again Sport operate in this way? We have three main purposes:
- To remove financial barriers to participating in sport
- To increase re-use and promote sustainability
- To support our communities in a healthier lifestyle
We take donations of used and new sports kit and equipment, prepare and sell it in conjunction with Too Good To Waste (a local furniture re-use shop and charity), at vastly reduced prices. We know our community needs access to affordably priced clothing, and not just for sport. The money raised from sales is then used to support sporting activities in the local area and to promote sustainability. As a result we’ve diverted over 10000 items from landfill in the last two years and engaged with more than 1400 people in sporting activities, improving their physical health and mental wellbeing.
Let’s talk about one of our walking rugby regulars as an example, let’s call him Patrick. He’s in his mid-sixties. He had played rugby avidly as a young man but when he married, family life became his priority. His children grew up and moved away. He retired. Suddenly, two years ago, his wife died and Patrick was alone. Through a friend, Patrick heard about walking rugby, he came every week. He then suggested a coffee afterwards, and now the group go for lunch after every session. He has made new friends who regularly socialize together.
It may ONLY be a walking rugby group to some people, but to others it is a reason to get up on a Tuesday morning, a lifeline to other people, exercise for the body and balm to the mind.
This is just one person. This is how we make a difference.
Due to Covid-19 people like Patrick have had nearly six months of missing out. Unable to meet others in social environments and interact in physical proximity, loneliness and isolation are an inevitable consequence. A more sedentary lifestyle over lockdown alongside food choices made out of necessity and comfort, it is unsurprising that fitness and nutrition levels have declined. The correlation between physical health and mental wellbeing is well established, so not only has mental health suffered as a direct result of lockdown and the ramifications of Covid-19 on society, but also due to reduced exercise.
Now we find ourselves in a transient position, allowed to meet for training but waiting for the bell to toll to say we can’t. Anxious to resume what we can, but nervous that we may contribute to a future lockdown.
We have added pressure knowing the items we sell are in demand more than ever, due to job losses and reduced incomes, but without the means to collect donations. Leisure centres are quite rightly insisting that people take nothing with them into their buildings. Including donations. So we find ourselves without stock. Without items to sell. Unable to raise money to support people like Patrick.
Understandably, with everyone in similar positions, there are few alternatives where we can safely collect donated items from. We rely on these contributions to fund our activities and to provide much needed items for people in our local communities.
Can you help? We want to continue and we hope to keep assisting those who depend on the services we provide, but we can’t do it without donations.
Please visit our website to find out more information, www.playitagainsport.wales or contact me directly to enquire about making a clothing donation;