Quality Support in Safe Hands

5 Jul 2016

Quest and Substance unveil national sport for development accreditation

A new accreditation designed to help agencies involved in sport for development work to demonstrate their impact is being launched across the UK, following a successful pilot with three organisations. 
The growing sport for development (S4D) sector is made up of organisations that use sport to achieve personal and social objectives, from improving physical and mental wellbeing and educational attainment to increasing community cohesion and civic engagement, particularly by young people. 
The new award - Quest Sport for Development - has been jointly developed by top research and technology company Substance, which works to 'make organisations that do good have a greater impact'; and Quest, the UK's quality scheme for sport and leisure, endorsed by Sport England, Sport Scotland, Sport Wales and Sport Northern Ireland. 
According to Neil Watson, director and head of programmes at Substance, Quest Sport for Development directly supports the Government's 'Sporting Future' strategy, which was released early this year, as well as Sport England's new national strategy, released in May, both of which challenge sport and leisure providers to demonstrate their social impact.  
"It's no longer business as usual for sport and physical activity providers, particularly those that want to use public money to improve lives and deliver good community outcomes," said Watson. 
"Funders want to be confident that an organisation is healthy, that it performs to a consistently high standard, and that it has the capabilities and competencies to make an impact on the lives of individuals and communities - which means focusing on outcomes rather than outputs. Quest Sport for Development has been created to provide all these assurances. 
"More than 600 leisure centres in the UK have Quest Facilities accreditation, helping the trusts and contractors that run them to reassure their local authority investors that their money is in safe hands. Our aspiration is that funders of sport development projects will view Quest Sport for Development in the same way, guiding them to make wiser investment decisions." 
Aimed at nascent and growing sport for development agencies in need of organisational support, as well as at traditional sports organisations that don't have a track record of using sport for social objectives, the award requires providers to complete five modules. 
Four of these have been adapted from modules within existing Quest accreditations for leisure centres and sport development teams, including partnerships and collaboration; people and skills development; continuous improvement; and community outcomes. The fifth - Delivering Sport for Development Projects - has been specially written with the sector in mind. 
"Quest and Substance have worked together to customise the existing Quest framework so it can be used by frontline organisations out in the field, many of which work with the most marginalised groups in our society," said Paul Brivio, head of Active Communities at Quest. "Substance has also developed content that is specific to this type of operation, as well as recruiting assessors who are expert and experienced in this area of work." 
The process involves a combination of self-assessment and external evaluation, and is based on both provision of evidence and extensive staff interviews. As with all Quest awards, there is an emphasis on continuous improvement: as well as a rating of Excellent, Very Good, Good or Satisfactory, providers receive an improvement plan. To retain accreditation, organisations must be assessed again after one year.  
The three organisations that took part in the pilot scheme - Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust and the Positive Youth Foundation in Coventry - have now all successfully completed their assessments, with Tottenham Hotspur Foundation rated Excellent and the others Very Good. 
Rashid Bhayat, executive director of the Positive Youth Foundation, said: "We signed up for Quest Sport for Development because it had become clear to us that having an accredited quality mark was essential if we were going to grow and develop in line with our business strategy, particularly at a time when the measurement of outcomes is critical.  
"Our organisation is stronger since we took part in the process, as all our staff members are now well aware of the core ingredients that make us who we are - not least their cohesiveness as a team - as well as the areas where we can improve going forward." 
Lee Doyle, CEO of Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust, said: "We have been around for 30 years and have always prided ourselves on being an organisation that is constantly improving its work. The Quest Sport for Development assessment provided a good opportunity to take stock, particularly as we are planningto move to a new stadium and it's important that we deliver increased community benefits. 
"The process has enabled us to increaseour efforts in terms of our outcome and impact reporting and strengthen further some of our local partnerships. It has also renewed our focus on developing those aspects of our work which we know are particularly important to the organisations that support us. I would urge others to sign up to the scheme, as part of the sport for development sector's response to the challenge outlined by Sport England in its new strategy." 
Diary date: Substance and the County Sports Partnership Network are running a free seminar to debate Sport England's new strategy at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, London, from 2-5pm on Wednesday 13 July. A representative from Brentford Football Club Community Sports Trust will be speaking about Quest Sport for Development at the event

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