James (BSc (Hons) Sport and Exercise Science 2004) was shortlisted in our Alumni Awards earlier this year in the category of Community Hero.
Since graduating, James has made a positive contribution to the community, not only through his professional career but also in his charitable work and volunteering roles. Read more about this Community Hero and the difference he is making.
Creating inclusive opportunities
James’ career has always centred around sport, specifically encouraging children from underrepresented backgrounds, and utilising the power of sport and physical activity to tackle social agendas such as employability, youth crime and mental health.
“I’m very passionate about tackling the inequality of opportunity that exists so we can get more people who face traditional barriers to be more active, more often to increase their quality of life!”
Whilst working as Sports Officer at Thanet District Council, James was instrumental in setting up the Sport4NRG initiative which was a programme using sport as a diversionary activity for young offenders and those at risk of offending. Within 2 years the rate of re-offending in the area had reduced by 10%. The very hands-on aspect of this job highlighted to James the importance of the role model/mentor figure in such interventions.
During this time James was successfully nominated by the charity StreetGames UK to be a Torch Bearer at the 2012 London Olympics.
James went on to become the Area Director of StreetGames, who aim to harness the power of sport to create positive change in the lives of young people from under-served communities – a vision that exactly matches James’ own heartfelt aspirations.
“I love working directly with groups of young people and volunteers (through tutoring and delivering workforce development programmes) who want to be leaders in their own communities to make life better for others as well as themselves.”
“I also love to develop strategic partnerships to support and empower community sports organisations in London, Kent, Sussex & Milton Keynes to provide high quality informal sports and physical activity opportunities for young people living in underserved communities to help them become healthier, safer and more successful.”
Making an impact
Closer to home, James has been inspired by his work at StreetGames, to go above and beyond to improve the lives of local young people to help make their lives healthier, safer and more productive. James set up a not-for-profit company, All People Active (APA) to provide free sport and physical activity opportunities for people who most facing barriers to participation.
James is particularly proud of APA’s commitment to empower women and girl groups to fully participate, enjoy and succeed, and in the Fit and Fed programme ensuring children have free access to sports, arts and crafts and other positive activities under safe supervision, and receive free nutritional meals, during school holidays. James’ APA were worthy winners of the Community Group of the Year for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes 2022.
And the impact of this time and talent is clear to see, just some of the incredible outcomes and impacts include:
- Securing over £500,000 to build sports facilities in communities across Kent, London and Milton Keynes.
- More than 25,000 attendances at Fit & Fed programmes James has been involved in designing and setting up across Kent, London and Milton Keynes.
- Overseeing delivery of training to more than 5,000 young people from under-served communities to be leaders and sports coaches.
- Delivered and overseen Mental Health Awareness training to more than 2,000 people.
- Been responsible for a £120,000 Kent Safer Through Sport programme resulting in 45 sports sessions a week being delivered across Kent and Medway – to help build pro social identities in young people.
- Building a network of locally trusted organisations to work with collaboratively to help transform young lives across Kent, London and Milton Keynes.
In his home village, James delighted the community by securing the funding and installation of a new Astro Turf sports pitch and an outdoor gym in the park. He is 1st team Coach and Assistant Manager of the local village football team and is on the committee of the junior and senior football clubs. He also finds time to be the manager and coach of the local Under 7s boys and girls football team.
During his time at CCCU James really valued the strong sense of community experienced, both through the personal contact with the lecturers and the mutual closeness with fellow students.
His lifetime love of sport and his passion for enriching the lives of others have afforded him the opportunity to achieve personally set goals which have had a positive impact on the lives of others.