Update on England Athletics' work with clubs
An update on our future work to support clubs from April 2017 from our Head of Club Support & Local Partnerships Chris Mallender:
England Athletics’ fully recognises that clubs and their volunteers are the driving force of athletics in England. We developed our Strategic Plan with clubs and volunteers at the heart of it, and we continuously challenge ourselves to ensure we are working to support and service our member clubs. We want to make the lives of volunteers easier, and offer support and services to our member clubs that enable them to offer a better environment for their existing and new club members. While there are differences between the wide range of clubs within the sport there are also clear areas of consensus and common experience.
From previous England Athletics communications many of you are already aware that due to several changes, including how the sport is funded and the areas of work for which funding is available, England Athletics is going to have to make a number of changes to how we work. We know many of the volunteers involved in organising and delivering athletics and running clubs have been supported by the work of our Club and Coach Support Officers (CCSOs), and we fully recognise the importance of having local staff who can support and service our member clubs. While we will be working in a different way to offer the relevant support to volunteers in athletics and running clubs, we will ensure there is access to support and servicing through a team of Club Support Managers.
Whilst we have had to face difficult decisions due to changes in the resources available to us as a sport, and how they can be used, we will build on the work we have done with our clubs over the years to deliver an efficient and effective service at all levels of England Athletics. This service to club volunteers won’t just be through the work of our Club Support Managers, but all teams and departments across the organisation that have any relationship with our member clubs. We will work with you to help you work effectively to deliver what your members need most. We will also ensure we can highlight new opportunities for clubs, whether that be to grow your membership, recruit and retain volunteers, or to work with you to generate funds needed to enhance your club’s facilities.
Below is a summary of what we intend to offer to our clubs from April 2017 onwards:
- We will deliver, organise and facilitate a range of activities and workshops on key topics to support clubs
- We will continue to work closely with the Coach and Athlete Development team to deliver a range of coach development opportunities to club coaches
- Subsidised coach and officials’ education courses will be delivered by our team of Education Co-ordinators
- Peer-to-peer support opportunities will be facilitated for volunteers and clubs
- We will deliver specific programmes that directly benefit clubs, coaches, officials and volunteers, such as the ClubRun programme following last year’s successful pilot, plus a new programme called Track Nights will be available for Track & Field clubs.
- We will develop high-quality, user-friendly resources in the right format that meet the current and evolving needs of our clubs and their volunteers. We will continue to work closely with key partners to produce these resources specifically tailored for athletics and running clubs, or where appropriate, to signpost clubs to high quality, relevant external resources.
- This will include continuing to provide access to resources and support for clubs in fulfilling their responsibilities regarding welfare. This work will continue to be delivered in partnership with UKA
- Focussed support will be offered to clubs through the Club Support Manager team to ensure they can develop sustainable and modernised structures, which will help to safeguard vital services such as facility provision
- Clubs will be supported to grow their membership and reduce waiting lists by offering developmental and financial support to establish new training groups through satellite clubs and junior academies
- RunTogether has been developed to help running clubs grow their membership and link in with local demand for running based activity
- We will continue to improve the online portal for both clubs and for individual athletes, coaches, officials and other volunteers. This includes the new online change of clubs process and the functionality enabling clubs to take membership payments online, we will continue to develop the online functionality available to clubs and others involved in the sport.
- The England Athletics membership services team will continue to work to make the roles of volunteers in affiliated clubs easier. They will continue to be available to answer queries from a range of people involved in the sport and fulfil a number of important ‘customer service’ functions for athletes and volunteers. As we move forward we will be looking to provide our member clubs with the ability to access more in depth and detailed insight into their club’s current and historical membership trends which will help them to be more effective in planning the work of their club
- We will support clubs to obtain or maintain their Clubmark Accredited Club status
Aside from initial changes that have come into effect in April you will also notice new areas of work being developed over the coming months and changes to some of our previous work as we continue to evolve how we service you, the clubs.
We are already progressing with some new areas of work. Our Volunteer Manager is already in post. She will lead on, and be involved in some exciting new areas of work to support and recognise the contribution of volunteers across the sport. This includes important work making the most of the opportunities given by the London 2017 IAAF and World Para Athletics Championships. Part of our volunteer related work will be supported by the new position of Officials Development Officer who will have a specific role in working to sustain and increase the number of officials. This will include working with other organisations to recruit and develop officials. Whether these operate primarily with a club or otherwise the role of officials in competitions for our clubs is essential
Due to the major role clubs and their volunteers play in the sport there are other areas of work that England Athletics will be engaged in that will also benefit clubs and their members. For example, I would encourage you to take a look at the update on our work with coaches that was recently given by Martin Rush, our Head of Coaching and Athlete Development. This also includes information for our club athletes who want to know about on-going competition at national and international level.
Thank you for all that you do for our sport and we look forward to working with you in what we hope will be an exciting few years for our sport.