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Lessons From

ScotGov: Sporting Equality Fund

Insight – Project Evaluation

Working with the Scottish Government, our Sporting Equality Fund supported no fewer than 12 projects targeting women and girls to participate in sport and physical activity.

Spirit’s Head of Learning and Impact, Amy Finch, introduces the Sporting Equality Fund project report and presents our lessons and learning to share with the wider sector.

1. This evaluation shows that…

Firstly, more than 1500 girls and women got involved in regular activity across fourteen projects, and as a whole, they were happier as a result.

It also gives more weight to evidence that we’ve found across programmes like the Legacy 2014 (also Scottish government funded) and GOGA, that taking a “small steps” approach to introducing, or reintroducing, physical activity into someone’s life is more effective than huge targets.

2. The thing I’m proudest about in this evaluation is…

The effort that all of the projects made to contribute to it! Some of the projects were volunteer run, and the grant size meant that all of them were doing the evaluation work themselves rather than having external support. We are hugely grateful that they entered so fully into sharing data and learning to help us build a collective picture of the fund.

3. The thing I would do differently if we did this project again is…

I would encourage a subset of the projects to look closely at – and share their learning on – retention rates on their project. We had headline figures on which participants covered from one-off or sporadic attendance to regular, but no data (either quantitative or qualitative) to be able to identify whether there were patterns in this. However, we also know that it’s really important for funders to be nuanced when thinking about retention rates – many of the participants had complex lives, with physical activity not always at the top of their to do list. If we as funders press projects hard to achieve very high retention rates, we will disincentivise them from working with women and girls who could potentially have the most to gain from activities like that.

4. An interesting fact in this evaluation is…

At the beginning of this fund, the average life satisfaction level of the participants was 6.8 out of 10. By the end of the project, this average had risen to 8.0 out of 10. Projects that reached girls and women with the lowest wellbeing levels, were most likely to see an increase at the end.

5. The thing I still wish we could understand more is…

We would love to have unpicked the importance of the educational health and wellbeing content that many projects ran alongside their physical activity. It seemed clear from participant feedback that this was a really important mechanism for building trust, and gradually encouraging them to take part in active part of the sessions. But we don’t know if having health & wellbeing content led to bigger increases in wellbeing or confidence, or if it made participants more or less likely to reach the recommended levels of activity.

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