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The social value of a small community football organisation: Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust

Sport is a powerful tool for generating positive social impacts, and has garnered widespread recognition within various populations. Extensive research has been dedicated to exploring the transformative effects that community sport organisations have on their local communities. As we delve into the realm of impact, we find the most compelling evidence lies within the domains of physical health, mental well-being, and educational development.  

To better understand the value sport generates in our communities, we turn our focus to a shining example of a small community sport organisation, Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust. In this article, we use data to unravel how Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust are using football to make Bridgwater and it's surrounding areas a more healthier, happier and vibrant community. 

Subsequently, using the Social Return on Investment (SROI) for sport framework we look to further understand the monetary value of the social impacts Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust generates for its local community through their sport activities and other community engagement. 

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Fund or sponsor Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust to help them continue generating positive social impacts for their community.

About Bridgwater Community Sports Trust

Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust (BUCST), in partnership with Bridgwater United FC, aims to provide all members of their local community with the opportunities to access quality sport, physical activity, and wellbeing provision whatever their age, gender or ethnicity. 

BUCST deliver a wide variety of activities that engages different demographics of participants. Using football as the driving force, they aim to engage more children and young people to be active in schools, develop educational and personal growth opportunities through football, and further deliver health and wellbeing programmes to the wider community of Bridgwater.

You can learn more about BUCST here: The below graphs describe and analyse BUCST's engagement through the activities and programmes they have delivered over the past year. 

BUCST participants by age and gender
Activities delivered by BUCST and their participants by age


Promoting healthier lifestyles through football

Regular participation in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity among children and young people can prevent of multiple chronic diseases and promote effective development of the immune system. Particularly, when engaging children and young people from areas of relative health deprivation, the effects can be much more pronounced. As it can be observed in the map below, a significant number of participants engaged by BUCST reside in areas of relative health deprivation.

Therefore, BUCST's ability to engage their participants in regular moderate-to-vigorous-intensity participation has a significant health impact on the community and has a wider impact on NHS expenditure in the region. 

Their activities help prevent a wide range of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, and osteoporosis (in line with the numerous studies focusing on the impacts of physical health-related activities and sports). 

Coupled with its inherent social interactions, BUCST's activities have positive effects on participants' mental well-being. These effects manifest in stress reduction, increased positive emotions, and an overall sense of wellness.  

This higher health and wellbeing effects generated by continued participation results in direct cost savings for the NHS. Using SROI for sport framework, the potential cost savings to the NHS generated by sport and physical activity can be estimated by multiplying the annual cost to the NHS per person diagnosed with the condition with the number of people estimated to have averted the condition and its risk reduction magnitude. We can then estimate the annual health value BUCST can generate if they can continue to engage their current participants.   

Health OutcomeAverage annual cost per person diagnosedNo. of BUCST participants correlated to outcomeRisk Reduction/ Benefit ImprovementPotential annual health value that can be generated by BUCST
Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction£7,05912435%£306,361
Diabetes Risk Reduction£4,0134240%£67,418
Breast & Colon Cancer Risk Reduction£53,1412320%£244,449
Depression Risk Reduction£30518730%£17,111
Dementia Risk Reduction£37,4015830%£650,777
Total potential health value that can be generated by BUCST£1,286,116


Empowering personal growth in young people

School-age engagement in sport and physical activity has shown to improve cognitive performance in terms of information processing, relational memory, attention and executive function. When sport and physical activity is delivered in tandem with targeted educational programmes, these outcomes act as stepping-stones towards greater school engagement, educational achievement and educational progression. 

Along with the sport activities and programmes BUCST deliver, they also facilitate multiple employability workshops and programmes like the Gravity Spheros that promotes STEM learning through play activities, and has a significant impact on empowering children and young people in their local community to attain better education and improves overall employability in the region. 

The Sphero programme in particular has a significant impact in improving educational capability and future employability by teaching a range of digital and transferable skills through practical football-based coding games and interactive programming activities. BUCST is one of very few non-league clubs in the South West region to combine football and play with learning and technology this way.

Further, BUCST focus on areas that have a greater need for educational opportunities has an uplifting effect on the development of their wider local community. Partnerships with local cultural and educational institutions can further maximise this impact and create development pathways for children and young people.

“The robot goes wherever I tell it to! I can draw the route and use the blocks to change direction using angles that I have learnt in Maths. The lesson was a lot of fun!" 

- Primary School Participant

To estimate the value generated through these educational and employability impacts, the SROI for sport framework considers the value of enhanced productivity and increased wages that these impacts might cause. The table below describes the annual value BUCST might generate if they can keep engaging their current participants through their activities.

Education and Employability OutcomeEnhanced Value through BUCST activitiesNo. of BUCST participants correlated to outcomeRisk Reduction/ Benefit ImprovementPotential value that can be generated by BUCST
Enhanced human capital (increased productivity)£1,2152141%£2,600
Potential educational and employability value that can be generated by BUCST£195,115


Building a more connected and safer local community

Studies have also found a correlation between participation in sport and development of social relationships, collective community action and reduction in social tensions, however, the correlation is dependent on how the sport programmes are structured and the wider social issues that exist.

Further, some studies have found a relationship between sport and reduction of crime, as sporting activities have been found to foster prosocial behaviour, reduce delinquency and criminal behaviour and reduce the risk of recidivism. 

This link between sport and crime is generally found from a deterrence perspective and seems to be more relevant for youth crime and youth at-risk, as they are generally more exposed to crime and delinquency.

In early 2023, BUCST were one of 220 nationwide community organisations that were awarded the Youth Justice Sport Fund through StreetGames and the Ministry of Justice. The £5m programme used sport to enhance positive outcomes for vulnerable young people in the context of youth crime. The programme helped BUCST provide free football sessions to engage and support vulnerable young people, aged 7-15, at-risk of involvement in crime, anti-social behaviour and serious violence.

The SROI framework looks at social capital improvement outcomes and crime reduction outcomes to estimate the societal value of sport participation. A financial value is associated to these benefits by considering the hypothetical income required to compensate for not benefiting from social capital enhancement (and subjective wellbeing) through participation in sport and physical activity, and the average cost per incident of crime. For BUCST, according to the SROI for sport framework, their activities and engagement can potentially generate the following societal value:

Societal Development OutcomeEnhanced Value through BUCST activitiesNo. of BUCST participants correlated to outcomeRisk Reduction/ Benefit ImprovementPotential value that can be generated by BUCST
Enhanced social capital (and subjective wellbeing)£58012410%£7,192
Reduction of crime£38.16131%£5
Potential educational and employability value that can be generated by BUCST£7,197


The Social Value of Bridgwater United Community Sport Trust

Community sport organisations like BUCST generally help generate these health, education and societal development impacts in tandem with one another, contributing an overall positive impact to their local communities. These impacts together produce an aggregate effect of improved subjective wellbeing for individuals and promote productivity and togetherness in their communities.

The SROI for sport framework provides a method for evaluating the social impact their activities generate that is transparent, conservative, and has engaged stakeholders in identifying the outcomes that arise from these activities. The framework has proven to be an effective way to estimate and describe the social value of community sport organisations and it is also an important tool for garnering more support of community sport organisations - especially given that 2/5 community sport organisations are currently struggling to maintain their financial sustainability.

As it can be seen from the table below, even though BUCST is a relatively small community sport organisation, the impact it has on its local community is highly significant, and as such, BUCST represents a critical developmental organisation for the community of Bridgwater and it's surrounding areas.

Social OutcomesSocial Value
Physical and mental health improvement£1,286,116
Educational and employability improvement£195,115
Social Capital Improvement and Crime Reduction£7,197
Total potential value that can be generated by BUCST£1,488,428

Our mission at SportFin is to help preserve and grow impactful organisations like BUCST. Through our platform, you can lend your support to BUCST and directly contribute to the betterment of their community and ensure that its positive influence continues to thrive. You can play a significant role in ensuring the continued success and positive impact of BUCST, and together, you can help create a lasting change and uplift the community of Bridgwater and its surrounding areas.

Make a positive impact through sport

Fund or sponsor Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust to help them continue generating positive social impacts for their community.

Make a positive impact through sport.

Fund or sponsor Bridgwater United Community Sports Trust and track the impacts you help generate in their community from their impact report.