Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light has received high praise from the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in its report “Changing Lives: the social impact of participation in culture and sport”, which was released today.
The report considered how culture and sport can be used to tackle criminal justice, education and health issues, as well as transform towns and cities across the UK. It reviewed and considered several successful initiatives across the country, of which the Foundation of Light was one.
The Committee, including Chair Damian Collins MP and Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, visited the city as part of its investigations last year, taking in a tour of the Beacon of Light to see the life changing work that the Foundation carries out.
The report said “We visited the Beacon of Light, a recently-opened sports, health, education and community space run by Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light. As well as sports courts, the Beacon’s facilities include a school for 13-16 year olds who are disengage from mainstream education, a health and wellbeing zone to offer health services to visiting families and a business centre to teach employability skills.
“The Beacon of Light estimates that they will generate £73 million worth of social impact over the next twenty years. More broadly, the Foundation of Light delivers 49 different community programmes across South Shields and County Durham, encompassing employment, health, education and sport.
“We were highly impressed with the Foundation of Light and its devoted staff. We saw for ourselves the opportunity for joy and new experiences that it was bringing for children and parents alike.”
Damian Collins MP said “Culture and sport play a major role in how we see our nation. What we’ve focused on in our inquiry is the transformative power of culture and sport, not just to enrich the value of our lives but to address a range of long-standing social problems.
“Social activities like group singing and walking football can improve the mental health and physical health of those who take part. Major sports clubs are using the power of their appeal to change life chances for young people.
“More needs to be done to co-ordinate and invest in community initiatives, share evidence of success and encourage others to emulate the examples of best practice.”
Foundation of Light Chief Executive Lesley Spuhler said, “I am immensely proud of the work that the Foundation of Light does to improve lives across the north east. We have seen the impact that our sport, education, employability and wellbeing programmes can have and the real difference they make to our communities.
“We are thrilled to receive such positive recognition of our work by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. It is a reflection of the hard work and dedication of everyone in the organisation to changing and improving lives.”
The full report is available on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport website.