Training a new generation of coaches

Earlier this month ten lucky Street Elite graduates were invited on a training residential in the New Forest. All ten participants had previously shown great potential in becoming the next generation of ‘Sports for Social Change’ coaches for their communities.

The residential ran for three days. During this time all graduates shared a log cabin and bonded like a family. It gave young people an opportunity to create lasting relationships with likeminded young people inside and outside of the training exercises.

One young person shared: “The trip enabled me to show my vulnerable side”.

During the morning sessions our coaches would deliver various training workshops that taught the young people how to budget, think creatively and design sports activities that generate social change in communities.

On the first night young people were divided into teams and tasked with cooking a three-course meal. Culinary creations from the exercise ranged from spaghetti bolognese to carbonara and apple crumble. The exercise taught young people to plan, budget and execute a plan to create a product that benefitted the community around them.

On the second day, our coaches ran various leadership workshops. The workshops taught the young people how to design and execute sports activities that encourage positive social messaging and conflict resolution. Social messaging topics varied from important subjects such as mental health to disability inclusion. Young graduates quickly developed the key skills needed to become an effective social change sport coach.

On the final day each graduate set their own personal goals for the following six weeks, six months and 12-months. The workshops were designed to prepare each graduate for the next stage of their coaching journey. Setting milestones across the next year is an effective way of making sure graduates remain motivated and passionate about their coaching journey.

Overall, the feedback our coaches received was highly positive from all of the young people.

One young person shared: “The break away was well needed and I got to bond with other people, learn some incredible youth work games and understand how to link sport and social messaging together”.

Our coaches were delighted with the progress all the young people developed over the three days.

One coach mentor shared: “I was delighted to watch each participant work together in a team despite being in an environment that they are not use to”.

We look forward to following the progress of the young people as they develop into future sport for social change coaches over the next year.

To learn more about our Street Elite programme or for more information on getting involved please contact

Post covid kayaking for mental and physical health

Post Covid Kayaking for mental and physical health

Last month a team of kayakers from our charity took to the choppy waters of Brighton in a kayaking exercise. The exercise worked with young people from our London Futures programme to promote mental and physical wellbeing, teamwork and new post-lockdown friendships. In total, seven kayaks set off from between Brighton’s two piers for a 45-minute open-sea session with our CEO Andy Sellins leading the flotilla.

Our London Futures programme is aimed at young people with learning disabilities, who face social isolation and loneliness. By taking part in sports activities, the young people reduce anxiety, stress and develop key life skills. A primary aim of ours is to support a minimum of 80% of the young people in securing their first job.

Our Programme Manager Ryan Jones directed the day-out. Ryan’s dedication to the programme has created huge success within the development of young people on the programme.

Ryan shared: “This was a celebration to get our young people together after months of isolation. It was about giving them something to look forward to, building up their travel confidence and conquering new challenges.”

He added: “As well as being fun, they all had the new experience of being on the open-water… despite a few young people admitting they can’t swim, everyone rose to the occasion and mastered a new skill.”

Our Impact and Insight Officer Dan Mynott also joined in the challenge. Dan has been instrumental in using online gaming to connect our London Futures participants during the Covid-19.

Dan shared: “Online games and traditional sports have so much in common.”

He added: “Both need co-ordination, which is especially important within the autistic spectrum. It was great to see those who had known each other previously through e-sports finally come together in person.”

Following the success of this water sports activity, our coaches look forward to hosting more events that encourage young people from London Futures to push their boundaries and learn new skills.

To learn more about the London Futures programme contact

Celebrations For Our Street Elite Graduates!

This month young people from our Street Elite programmes have been uniting across London to graduate from this year’s programmes. Street Elite uses football to help young people recognise their full potential and find long term work opportunities.

Two weeks ago, young men and boys from our London and Birmingham Street Elite cohorts went head-to-head in a nail-biting football tournament. Hosted at The Change Foundation HQ, teams from Birmingham and West, East and North London battled it out on the pitch.

Two of the programme sponsors; The Berkeley Foundation and Freestar, were able to come and show their support on the day. Thanks to their sponsorship, we have kept the programme running throughout the difficulties of the pandemic. This year also marks the tenth year that we have been working with The Berkeley Foundation. They have been an invaluable supporter of the Street Elite programme, providing lasting support and long term career opportunities to countless young people from the Street Elite programme.

The Berkeley Foundation also attended our female Street Elite graduation ceremony, where Sally Dickinson Head of The Berkeley Foundation helped to present the young people with their graduation certificates.

Sally shared: “Berkeley Foundation is in our tenth year of working with The Change Foundation on the Street Elite Programme. What makes the programme so impactful is how the young people are empowered to make positive life choices to get them into employment, training, or further education. The Street Elite team works with Berkeley Group and other employers to provide mentoring and work placements for young people, and each year we are thrilled to see more success stories as a result of the programme.”

The female Street Elite graduation was a tremendous success. Hosted in a community centre on London’s iconic Brick Lane, everyone attending dressed up and had a professional cover photo taken by a photographer. A nail technician was also on sight, so all the young people were pampered and feeling confident before they went on stage to get their certificates.

One of the young women graduating this year bravely got on stage and put on an incredible singing performance. After she warmed up the mic, a former X-Factor contestant Sese Foster gave everyone a star performance and a powerful speech where she shared her experiences of living with anxiety and mental health.

One of the young people shared: “I’ve had such a good time today… the coaches are always so nice and even though it’s been coached on Zoom, Street Elite this year has been really fun.”

We look forward to seeing the graduates continue to develop as lifted Covid restrictions allow us to take Street Elite off Zoom and back on to the pitch.

VI Rugby reaches Scotland and Ireland

This August, The Change Foundation delivered VI Rugby coaching to coaching communities in Ireland and Scotland. Directed by Alex ‘Bass’ Bassan our Head of Business Development, the outreach of the VI Rugby programme has now successfully reached four countries within the UK.

In Scotland, Bass was able to work with the Strathmore Community Trust in Forfar, where he successfully delivered training to 14 eager coaches and volunteers. Over the next few months, we hope to see these individuals develop the first ever Scottish VI Rugby team!

Following his trip to Scotland, Bass flew over to Ireland where he worked closely with our Ambassador, and former Benetton and Italian rugby player Ian McKinley and the Ireland Rugby Football Union (IRFU). Working together, Bass, McKinley and the IRFU delivered training at Old Wesley Rugby Club in Dublin to 14 participants ranging from coaches, volunteers and VI rugby participants.

David McKay, IRFU Disability and Inclusion Officer, said: “We are really grateful to Vision Sports Ireland and The Change Foundation for their support in helping deliver this pilot programme.”

Both training sessions were a huge success, and we look forward to following the developing progress of both counties as they evolve this incredible sport. As we continue to develop the game in partnership with Premiership rugby clubs across England, plans to host the world’s first VI Rugby World Cup in 2023 are still underway. With the growing success of VI Rugby, TCF continue to host talks to make these plans a reality.

Dancing 4 Change in Brighton!

This month young people from the Dance 4 Change programme spent three incredible days in Brighton on a fun-packed dance residential. Having originally joined the programme over Zoom in the pandemic, it was the first time all the young women and girls were able to dance together in person.

Dance 4 Change is a programme that uses dancing and discussion to help young women and girls express themselves and improve their physical and mental health.

One of our coaches Emily is a Psychology BS graduate from Bangor University. Within her role Emily is responsible for designing and incorporating group exercises in to the Dance 4 Change sessions that stimulate important conversations surrounding mental health. With most group discussions referring to the detrimental influences of social media, the young people are always encouraged to prioritise exercise over screen time for a few minutes each day.

Although the young people were busy taking photos of the amazing Brighton scenery, screen time on the residential was kept to a minimum. Everyone found themselves engaging in conversation and group games (UNO being a favourite card game) rather than scrolling through Instagram, TikTok and other popular social media platforms.

Each day of the residential, the group would visit a private dance studio to practice their dancing skills. Guided by the head coach Chantelle; a crumping-dance professional and our other coach Maddy, by the last dance session of the residential the young people had created an incredible dance routine that they were all really proud of.

One young girl shared: “It’s so nice to be able to dance together in person… it’s really helped me to make new friends.”

Some of the young people lacked enough self-confidence to turn on their cameras during the online Zoom classes. The coaches were incredibly pleased to watch as these individuals developed a new sense of confidence and found the courage to help direct some of the dance performances.

Our coach Maddy shared: “The pandemic really affected how much everyone could interact with each other… sharing the dance studio and dancing together in person has really helped the young people to challenge themselves and develop their self-confidence.”

The last morning of the residential was spent in a local pottery painting shop, where the girls and young women were able to decorate a piece of pottery. The creative exercise gave everyone an opportunity to open-up about their family life, the challenges they faced in school and their aspirations for the future.

For many of the young people, this residential was the first time they have been away from the comfort of their family and the familiarity of their common daily routine in over a year. Thanks to the tremendous work of our coaches any challenging moments on the trip were overcome by excitement, joy, and laughter.

Everyone left the Brighton residential with unforgettable new memories, a developed sense of confidence in themselves and the promise of lasting life-long friendships.

On the train ride home one young person shared: “It’s like we’re one big dance family!”


NFL Flag football pilot a success!

Back in April,  The Change Foundation partnered with the NFL Flag Association to launch an exciting new NFL Flag Football programme. The partnership saw the NFL Flag Association deliver training to our sports coaches in preparation for the launch of our new 12-week pilot programme.

Our pilot programme takes the traditional rules and coaching of NFL Flag, but incorporates education on mental health in to each session. It is the first time an NFL programme like this has been delivered in the UK.

Elle is a Senior Coach mentor at The Change Foundation and was the acting Project Manager for this project. Through Elle’s mindful planning, each of the 12-weeks was allocated exercises that explored specific topics of mental health such as anxiety or depression.

Elle shared: “The weekly themes on mental health allowed the young people to develop greater resilience to mental health and an increased confidence in speaking about mental health and their wellbeing.”

We are incredibly pleased with the outcome of this project considering the short time frame that this programme was run for. In total the pilot was successfully delivered to over 75 young girls with one individual tournament hosting 127 year-11 students, both boys and girls.

A spokesperson from NFL Flag said: “We are happy to have partnered with The Change Foundation to deliver one of our first girls’ flag and wellbeing programmes. The Change Foundation staff and coaches have been brilliant at supporting young people through the delivery of NFL flag sessions and tailoring the experience to support the health and wellbeing of participants. I am excited to see how we can work with The Change Foundation moving forwards to continue to keep young people active and involved in sport.”

As awareness on mental health and the influences that cause mental health grows, all of us at The Change Foundation are trying to discover new, innovative ways to introduce educative methods surrounding the improvement of mental health in to all of our programmes. NFL Flag has proven that it is possible to educate young people on sport and mental health, whilst simultaneously keeping them engaged and having fun.

After the success of the pilot programme, we delivered the NFL Flag programme to young people from our Girls Win programme. Girls Win is a disability programme for young women and girls.

It was enlightening to witness how engaged the young people were with this new coaching style. All of the young women and girls left the session filled with excitement and energy. It was a testament to the dedicated coaches and the NFL Flag for all their involvement in creating this engaging new programme.

Following all of the positive feedback over the past few months, The Change Foundation coaching team will be meeting in November to trial more games and develop new exercises. We are passionate about developing new ways to educate young people on mental health. Following the success of our NFL Flag programme, we look forward to delivering it in to more schools across London and the UK.


VI Rugby Programme Goes From Strength to Strength

This month, we saw further progress within our Visually Impaired (VI) Rugby programme. Since successfully founding the pilot programme in 2016, we have been working with premiership rugby clubs across the UK, securing our sixth premiership club partnership earlier this month.

The VI Rugby programme was founded after we recognised that rugby players in the UK living with visual disabilities were not offered a safe and inclusive environment to play rugby. We hope that our partnerships with premiership clubs will help us to establish professional and grassroots VI rugby clubs across the UK. With calendar dates booked in professional Scottish and Irish rugby clubs next month, we hope to have the roots of VI rugby planted in every country across the UK by August this year.

Each year, our annual showcase event highlights just how far this new sport has come. Since 2017 our showcase development timeline has progressed significantly.


  • 2017 – British Lions Tour – New Zealand.
  • 2018 – Harlequins VI vs Wasps VI – Twickenham Stadium – The Big 10.
  • 2019 – Japan Rugby World Cup – Tokyo.
  • 2020 – Postponed due to Covid-19.
  • 2021 – Wales VI vs England VI – Autumn International.
  • 2022 – VI Rugby World Cup – Planning underway.


Our relationships with the premiership clubs has been pivotal in introducing this inclusive sport into our communities.

Earlier this month the Harlequins VI rugby team competed in the ‘Project Rugby’ mixed ability rugby tournament. The tournament is run by Gallagher, who also sponsor the official Gallagher Premiership.

Two coaches and a few players from our VI rugby team were later invited to Twickenham Stadium to watch Harlequins vs Exeter Chiefs in the Gallagher Premiership. To the delight of our players, Harlequins claimed the victory!

We thank Gallagher for their hospitality and generosity throughout the Project Rugby tournament and for hosting us at Twickenham.

For more information on how to get involved please contact: Alex Bassan, Head of Business Development .

The Change Foundation Innovate with England Handball

This month The Change Foundation collaborated with England Handball to develop a new social impact programme. The programme will build on the rise of the game of handball, and increase its access in diverse communities. The evolving landscape of sport for development presents an opportunity for us to think differently, progress positively and approach a new audience of England Handball players. The Change Foundation will be working with England Handball to:

  • Create a handball social impact programme, targeting key outcomes of physical health, mental health, and inclusion.
  • Coordinate the creative development of adaptable, inclusive, engaging handball games that include key social impact messaging.
  • Provide knowledge, experience, and creativity about social impact programme development so that England Handball can explore all opportunities.

The Change Foundation are delighted to innovate with England Handball and this month the team took part in a creative workshop to develop inclusive and engaging handball games to begin to create a social change toolkit for handball. England Handball’s National Partnerships Manager, Stacey Andrews said:

“We’re excited to work with The Change Foundation and engage with more communities in the UK.

“Working together with The Change Foundation I’m confident that we can take this sport to new places.”

The Change Foundation’s Director of Design and Impact, Navjeet Sira said:

“Handball is such an inclusive game for people of all backgrounds and abilities. Its simple elements of throwing, catching and movement means we can evolve and adapt the sport and the rules to suit any community. We are so excited to create new coaching techniques with England Handball and launch a new community initiative that will improve so many lives.”

If you would like to work with The Change Foundation to develop innovative sport for social change initiatives, please contact Navjeet Sira Director of Design and Impact.