Born in 1981 as the London Community Cricket Association, following the Brixton Riots in London, the charity began by using cricket as a tool to promote community cohesion and peace during the conflict in the heart of the local community. We began setting up projects aimed at getting unemployed and directionless young people to train as coaches and community sports leaders. Our Unemployed Leagues led to the setting up of the Haringey Cricket College (later to become the London Cricket College) a very successful project that in its 10 year history provided 25 first class cricketers including Mark Alleyne, Frankie Griffiths and Keith Piper as well as a raft of inner city coaches, many of whom have had a long career as professional coaches and are still doing great work today.
We then set-up training programmes and cricket clubs for women and girls which have since been replicated by many county cricket boards and several women who trained with us are now working as Development Officers with various counties and other sports bodies. It also identified talented players including Ebony Rainford-Brent who went on to play for England.
The London Schools Cricket Project was then developed and aimed to address the decline in school sport in the late eighties. It provided cricket to almost every primary school in London and many secondary and girls’ schools. To provide coaches for the London Schools Cricket Project and other programmes and to create employment opportunities for individuals from the inner city, we delivered coach education courses for over 300 coaches as part of our Inner City Coach Education Programme. For five years we also ran the London Under 25’s, a representative team aimed at giving opportunities to players not known by the counties and giving them high quality training and matches against teams including Oxford University and English Universities. Andy Caddick played for the team before he was picked up by Somerset and then England.
On a completely different level we started to deliver ground-breaking work in a number of London’s prisons including Pentonville, Holloway and Wandsworth where we ran the first ever coach education course qualifying 15 inmates as coaches, two of whom worked with us on our new Special Needs Programme on their release.
Our special needs work created new opportunities for children and adults with a disability. We became experts at creating new coaching techniques and new programmes supporting coaches, teachers and youth workers working with cricketers with a disability. This included the setting up of the England Blind Cricket team to compete in the first ever blind cricket World Cup in India in 1998.
A significant part of the charity’s history is when we developed a brand of street cricket called Street20, a shortened version of cricket. It is played six a side, it takes 30 minutes to complete one game and can be played on almost any surface including five a side football pitches, basketball courts and school playgrounds. The game is easy for non-cricket experts to teach, is inexpensive to play, does not need specialist protective equipment – all you need is a bat, a ball, stumps and is exciting for young people to play. Most importantly, Street20 provides the ideal platform to deliver advice and support to young people through combining youth work and cricket coaching. This became the main tool used for the charity’s programmes.
In the summer of 2001, we were commissioned by the Home Office to run crime diversion programmes on a dozen inner city estates that were seen to be at risk of social unrest. Our resulting Housing Estates Programme worked on some of London’s most deprived inner city estates.
2003 saw the introduction of our international work. We travelled to Barbados to set up the West Indies Blind Cricket Team, then South Africa in 2004 to train community cricket coaches in the townships of Cape Town and then Zimbabwe in 2005 to introduce blind cricket.
In 2006 the Cuban Cricket Partnership was launched with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Cuban Cricket Association, when we delivered coach education courses, facility development support, networking support and disability awareness training.
In 2007, we launched a post civil war programme in Rwanda in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, training Street20 leaders to run rehabilitation through sport programmes with children affected by the civil war. Then a similar programme in 2008 in Sierra Leone in partnership in partnership with UNICEF, training Street20 leaders to run rehabilitation through sport programmes with children affected by the civil war.
In 2008, we launched a Blind cricket programme in Panama in partnership with the Panamanian Government, training sports coaches and teachers how to run sports programmes for disabled children and adults.
In 2008, the charity rebranded to become Cricket for Change delivering high impact social change cricket programmes in the UK which included; StreetChance in partnership with Chance to Shine, Hit the Top – a specialist cricket programme for young people with a disability and Street Team, which provided a cricket programme for young offenders while in prison and then helped them find employment on release.
In 2009, we delivered a series of international Street20 cricket programmes which included:
- Europe Project launched in partnership with the International Cricket Council in Greece, Spain, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Serbia.
- Partnership with Peres Centre for Peace in Israel and Palestine, training sports coaches and teachers how to use Street20 cricket to bring children from different communities together.
- Partnership with the Courtney Walsh Foundation launched in Jamaica which used cricket to help rehabilitate young offenders and support them back into their communities on release from prison.
- ‘Catch the Spirit’ partnership with UNICEF and the ICC launched in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which trained female and male coaches to use cricket to have a social impact with vulnerable girls and boys.
In 2009, we started the Refugee Cricket Project, a specialist project within the Children’s Section in partnership with the Refugee Council in south London. The project engages children seeking asylum, giving them the chance to develop their cricket skills and meet their friends in a safe environment and gain advice on both their asylum claims and on welfare issues.
In 2010, we developed a partnership with NYPD in New York and trained their officers to use cricket with communities from a south Asian background. This was followed by a ‘rehabilitation through cricket’ programme for former child soldiers in Sri Lanka launched in partnership with UNICEF.
In 2011, in partnership with the Berkeley Foundation we developed Street Elite, working in London with young people on the edges of gangs and crime who are not in education, employment or training and helping them into work.
In 2011, we delivered three significant international programmes which began the evolution of using rugby as well as cricket:
- Street20 gangs re-education programme in Trinidad with TTASPE.
- ‘Peace Through Rugby’ project in Budapest, including the first sports match between Israel and Palestine.
- Rugby 4 Change course for Palestinian and Israeli coaches in Palestine to support the work of the Beit Jala Lions Rugby Team in Bethlehem<.
In 2012, we partnered with Rugby World Cup Winning and former England Captain Lawrence Dallaglio and his foundation launching Dallaglio Foundation Rugby 4 Change, an employability education programme using rugby in Pupil Referral Units for young people at-risk of exclusion.
In 2012, we launched a Street20 national programme in partnership with the Lord’s Taverners, training county board coaches and community groups in the delivery of social change through cricket programmes for young people with a disability and at-risk young people.
In 2014, Cricket for Change become The Change Foundation to reflect our evolving offer of multisport for marginalised groups of young people. In this year we launched the Chris Gayle Academies with the Chris Gayle Foundation in the UK and Jamaica using cricket to increase the employability of marginalised young people in London and Kingston, Jamaica. The Change Foundation team also organised and trained a group of visually impaired young women from the UK and played in the first ever international women and girls blind cricket match in Nepal against a Nepalese team. That same year our ‘Change Consultancy’ was launched with the MetLife Street Badminton programme in Hong Kong.
In 2015, our partnership with Magic Bus in India launched a new Street20 cricket programme which trained coaches on how to engage and support street children with a disability.
In 2016, in partnership with Rugby World Cup Winning Springbok legend, Bryan Habana we launched Team Habana in London, a youth leadership programme promoting social action through the values of rugby. In 2018 we launched the programme in Cape Town, South Africa.
2016 saw a clear focus on the development of programmes for girls and young women. That year we launched three life changing programmes working with the hardest to reach girls and young women:
- Girls Win – a multisport goal setting programme for young women with a disability.
- Dance 4 Change – a dance therapy programme supporting young women with mental health problems.
- Generation STORM – a fitness and well-being mentoring programme for young women affected by the care system.
In 2016, we launched a programme for Syrian refugees in Lebanon in partnership with Muslim Hands using Street20 cricket to help normalise the lives of traumatised children living in the Bekaa Valley.
In 2016, we were commissioned by the Tennis Foundation (now merged with the Lawn Tennis Association) to design and develop a tennis programme that improved self-confidence, health and community togetherness. We designed the SERVES Social Change programme which is now being delivered in 100’s of tennis sites across the UK.
In 2017, we designed and delivered the first sports programme in the UK tackling social media safety, called Netball 4 Change, working with young women aged 11 – 17 in Newcastle and London.
In 2017, we launched our Visually Impaired Rugby programme adapting the rules of touch rugby, developing kit and equipment so that visually impaired people could play rugby. We engaged players from across the UK, providing training and coaching. Players have since been on two tours: The Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017, beating a visually impaired New Zealand team 3 – 0 and the Rugby World Cup tour to Japan, beating a visually impaired Japanese team 3 – 0.
In 2019, we launched London Futures, an employability programme for young people with learning disabilities and mental health problems, helping them become less socially isolated and find their first paid job to start to develop their careers.