When the Government stopped funding School Sports Partnerships (SSPs), Vincent Brittain was so enraged he helped to start a national petition, securing 660,000 signatures, in an attempt to keep them going across the country.
Vincent worked for the South West Lincolnshire School Sports Partnership at the time and he had seen how important it was in giving support to school sport and PE locally.
He was desperate to continue the work the SSPs were carrying out and so in 2011 he launched Inspire+, a Grantham-based charity which provides support to schools in the development of PE, sport and leadership opportunities. It is the nation’s first Government-funded initiative to evolve into an independent sports charity and supports 45 primary and secondary schools in the Grantham area.
Can you outline some of the work the charity carries out locally?
We provide comprehensive teacher training support to give teachers more confidence in teaching PE and school sports. We have a coaching programme where we go into schools to upskill teachers and support after-school clubs. Then there is the Inspire+ Legacy Challenge where we get young people to get involved in more physical activities and live healthier lifestyles. 27,000 young people have participated in this particular scheme. We also train young people to become Playground Leaders and Young Ambassadors.
Are there any examples you can highlight where the charity has helped young people?
We are always getting information from parents about how their children have benefited from what we do. One memorable one involved a girl who attends Great Ponton School who was in a party of 30 talented young people we took over to the University of Lincoln for several workshops. She is a talented dancer but suffered from a lack of confidence. But after the workshops she won gold and silver medals in a competition and her father has texted me to say she has auditioned for the Royal Ballet School.
Are you surprised how quickly the charity has developed?
I feel very proud that we are able to provide these services because they wouldn’t have been provided following the Government funding cut for the School Sport Partnerships. It has grown from something I started myself to become what I am told is Britain’s first independent sports charity. We have a base at Belton Lane Primary School and we now have seven core staff and a team of sports coaches.
What is your background and how did you get involved in this type of work?
I left school at 16 and became a professional footballer with Luton Town, who were then playing in the top levels of the Football League in the early 1990s. One of the players, John Hartson (who went on to play for Arsenal, West Ham and Celtic), is still a good friend. I was released by the club and went back to education and got a degree. I worked in sports development for Peterborough City Council before joining the South West Lincolnshire School Sports Partnership.
What are your aims for the future with the charity?
One of the things we are particularly excited about is the Legacy Challenge we have produced to encourage young people to lead healthier lifestyles. It has had Government funding through public health and we are in talks for it to be rolled out nationally. I am excited about the future because I feel I have the best job in the world. I thought my career was over when I didn’t make it as a footballer. I have some football friends who are multi-millionaires but I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing about how life has turned out for me. Every day I know I am making a positive contribution to the community and changing young people’s lives.