Social and community development

We know that people who volunteer in sport are more likely to feel they belong in their area, and people who take part in sport are likely to enjoy stronger social links with other people

Older man playing table tennis outside

As well as developing individuals, sport can help build stronger communities by bringing people together, often from different backgrounds, to make them feel better about where they live, improve community links and cohesion and build social capital.

There are many aspects to measuring social capital, but the best starting point for the type of impact we want sport to focus on having is the level of social trust within communities.

Successful social and community development is measured by the percentage of population reporting positive levels of social trust.

To help measure the impact of sport and activity on social and community development, we'll use our Active Lives Adult Survey

The evidence

Social and community development is one of the hardest outcomes to evidence, because the concepts involved – social capital, trust, networks – are difficult to define and measure.

But there is some compelling evidence particularly around the role of sport and the integration of migrants. Sport is widely seen as a way for people of different backgrounds to interact and integrate by participating, volunteering and spectating.

Though the majority of the evidence relating to migrants and sport focuses on opportunities to adapt to differences between the country of origin and the host country, it also covers bridging divides between men and women, homeless people and those who are not homeless, and people with different employment backgrounds.

Evidence on sport and bonding capital suggests that sport helps to build bonds and relational skills between members of communities. There is some evidence focusing on volunteers, in which their motivations and outcomes overlap both the personal and the community level – for example volunteers building links and bonding with others, which increases their sense of community and citizenship.

Bringing communities together through physical activity is clearly an important and valuable thing and we are therefore fully supportive of organisations creating their own project for increasing social and community development through sport.

Creating your own project for social and community development

We have created a tool to help evaluate the effectiveness of your own social and community development project. The Sport England evaluation framework has been developed to evaluate funding streams and projects effectively and help you get maximum value from measurement and evaluation (M&E).

It's designed to provide users with easy-to-follow guidance and resources to help you develop your own approach to measuring and evaluating work undertaken. Building the six steps of the framework into programme planning and implementation will assist users in getting the most from M&E.

What your project could achieve

  • Promoting social trust
  • Reducing isolation
  • Bringing people from diverse backgrounds together
  • Volunteering and social engagement
  • Helping new migrant communities to integrate.

Things your project could include

  • Interventions that bring people together and connect them socially
  • Facilitating the right type of interaction between people of different backgrounds.

Get in touch

Details of our available funds can be found here.

If you've got a project or an idea that impacts on social and community development and you want to share it with us, please email, or call us on 0345 850 8508.