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Clarion Housing Group - Lay Witnesses For Christ International - UK's story

 Community organisation, Lay Witnesses for Christ International (LWFCI) UK, based in Bromley, London received £4,960 from Clarion to provide sports and fitness sessions for the local area.

The grant funded the development of football sessions for young people aged 11-16 years and fitness classes for women and girls living in the Ramsden Estate in Orpington.

LWFCI-UK aim to inspire communities and help people to develop their talents and potential through providing sports activities, training programmes, and tutorials.

Some members of LWFCI-UK are local residents and as part of the consultation for the project spoke to Clarion tenants from the Ramsden Estate. The feedback from these sessions showed there was a real need for opportunities that would encourage social integration to combat local anti-social behaviour as well as being affordable, as there were concerns about costs of activities.

Providing free activities enabled young people to get involved and removed the cost barrier that usually prevented some people from participating. Activities were also run over the weekend to get kids off the street and help them to improve their fitness, decrease isolation, and build their confidence and self-esteem.

Speaking about the fitness sessions, participant, Ms. Tumyai said:

I moved to Orpington 2 years ago, I saw an advert in the local shop for a ladies exercise class for £1 on a Saturday. At the time, I could not afford the expensive gyms, as I was out of work. This provided an opportunity for me to engage with the local community, increase my confidence, whilst making friends and meeting other ladies and getting in shape.

Many of the women who attend have children with severe learning disabilities, come from ethnic minority backgrounds where issues around disabled children are taboo and affected families rarely have the support they need to cope with day to day pressures of life and running a household. During the session we work hard and laugh a lot – this is a tremendous project- All the work LWFCI-UK does is simple and vital – bringing people together and make impact local communities. 

The project engaged 56 people, 42 of which were Clarion residents. Participants benefitted from improved health, fitness and wellbeing, as well as new opportunities to engage in positive activities. A number of the participants provided testimonies of how they are much more active now as a result of the sessions.

LWFCI-UK worked with a number of different organisations to help them deliver their project including Millwall Football Trust, Kick Fit London, and Lockwood Football Academy. They also received support from a Groundwork project enabler, who helped them with community engagement, project management, and sustainability. 

The organisation held a celebration event and a Health Cook workshop at the end of the project to celebrate its success. The event brought people together to learn how to cook healthy meals and draw on inspiration from sports instructors and coaches. The event was also really beneficial for the community as new friendships were created through residents meeting each other and sharing a meal.

Since running the project, the group have experienced demand for more football activities, with a focus on expanding current provisions to a younger age group.  There is also demand to expand on fitness and yoga classes to include women of all ages. 

Jennifer Mapakou, Operations Manager & UK Director at LWFCI-UK said:

We are happy to have received another grant from Clarion Future to expand our sports project in our community. I am a local resident myself and know how this project is making a huge difference in Ramsden Estate and surrounding area.

Young people get the opportunity to engage in football every week for free of charge to all Clarion residents, this helps young people to play with others, improve their health and make friends. The Fitness and Yoga for Women has been a weekly routine bringing people together for sport and local people are happy to see this project available for them locally which is improving their health, fitness and well-being.

Through its Community Grants Programme - managed by Groundwork - it awards grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to charities, community organisations and voluntary groups for projects which primarily benefit its residents. 

To find out more or to apply, please click here.