Sport for Confidence – socially distanced.

Sport for Confidence – socially distanced.

calendarJuly 2 2020

Occupational Therapist, Sophie Garratt, talks about Sport for Confidence. Sport for Confidence is an award winning Community Interest Company delivering sport for all. They had to quickly adapt from their work in leisure centres to support their clients at home. Sophie talks about how they did this and what they have acheived.

About Sport for Confidence

Sport for Confidence places occupational therapists alongside sports coaches in mainstream leisure facilities. We deliver inclusive, ‘no label’ physical activity and sport sessions to individuals who face barriers to participation. Typically, participants include adults with learning disabilities, people living with dementia, poor mental health, physical disabilities and long-term heath conditions.

Sessions are adapted to the needs and preferences of the participants. This enables people with disabilities and long-term conditions to take part on an equal basis to their peers. This way, sport becomes a fun, fulfilling and rewarding experience for all.

The Sport for Confidence team develops communities within leisure centres. We create environments in which health and social care professionals reach outcomes for individuals through physical activity and sport.

Working together for inclusion

We heard about about the work that David and Emma Bara do around accessibility. So we invited them to come and see the Sport for Confidence model in action. We could have spent the whole day discussing the benefits of individuals accessing mainstream community environments! However, it was clear after a short half an hour that we are equally passionate about inclusion. We took Emma and David in to watch our inclusive football session. It also allowed them to meet some of the clients and carers who attend our sessions. We’re grateful for the opportunity to build a partnership with WeCanAccess, and look forward to supporting each other in the future.

Soon after meeting David and Emma Bara, Covid-19 swept through the country.

Covid-19 poses physical AND mental threats

Our weekly sessions provide an inclusive environment where people feel a sense of belonging and identity. However, leisure centres and many other community settings had to suddenly close due to Covid-19.

As Occupational Therapists, our priority has been to enable people to stay connected. It is vital they keep doing the things that make them feel happy and healthy. We fully support the government’s guidelines. However, we are also aware of the negative impact the lockdown could have on our vulnerable community. Many of our clients already face challenges in getting physically active. Not being able to take part in our weekly activities left the 2500 participants we support at risk of loneliness, poor mental health and lack of activity.

Stay Connected

To overcome these challenges, we have set up the Stay Connected campaign.

Stay Connected offers every Sport For Confidence participant weekly telephone calls from one of our occupational therapists. We talk about issues relating to social distancing, physical activity, loneliness and the many other challenges that people are facing. These might include how to follow a daily routine and keep taking part in activities they would normally benefit from. The service is also available to other identified vulnerable adults from across the county.

Our sports coaches are also delivering physical activity sessions. In many cases, these sessions are created specifically for the ability and activity preferences of the participant.  Group sessions, delivered via Zoom, are also helping to tackle loneliness and inactivity.

Everyone at Sport For Confidence would prefer to be delivering face to face interventions. But the Stay Connected campaign has enabled us to maintain valuable professional contact with our participants. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved. Sport for Confidence has been able to adapt and continue to support our amazing community. I hope we provide some inspiration to others who face challenges that can sometimes look too great to overcome.

To find out more about Sport For Confidence and the Stay Connected campaign, visit

For Top Tips on Staying Well from The Royal College of Occupational Therapists follow the link:

About Sophie Garratt

Sophie is an Occupational Therapist who has ten years of experience in the healthcare sector. She is passionate about encouraging individuals to access their local leisure centres as a way of improving both their health and wellbeing.

Headshot of a smiling Sophie Garratt
Sophie Garratt

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