Opening up Farrer & Co's Women in Sport Report that I contributed to brought back many memories and a certain level of irony as I looked back on the journey travelled since I set up one of the first inclusive play and childcare schemes in the country: Kidscore.
One of the key inclusive activities we embraced was Bolton Wanderer’s Football in the Community Summer School, as I believed then - as I do now - in the enormous capacity of sport to break through barriers, create lasting friendships and develop excellence within the game.
Whilst this was at the time when inequalities within the game were even more visible than they are now at all levels of the sport, the Summer Activities saw young people of all ages, gender and abilities, playing side by side as the ethos within the setting extended throughout the opportunity to sample and gain new footballing skills, alongside a tour of the stadium and meet with some of their footballing heroes.
It was an incredible thing to see and something I am immensely proud of. The Inclusion Blueprint I developed within the organisation at that time underpins all of my work to date.
I had no idea at the time and could have never imagined that I would one day be speaking about my work at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
It was such fun watching the young people, including my own children, grow up with a love of the game which has stayed with them through into adulthood.
My daughter went on to play for ‘Bolton Wanderer’s Ladies’ as they were known then and is now a Sports Medicine Doctor.
The images from those times filled my mind today as I was reading the report, as if it was yesterday. I can remember pretty much all the young people who attended the sessions, including those who are sadly no longer with us, and it fills me with a renewed sense of purpose in my work going forward.
It was an immense pleasure and honour to participate in the work Farrer & Co have undertaken as they continue to raise awareness of the inequalities that blight the sporting world, creating safe spaces to debate and share good practice on how to improve things going forward.
The opportunity to contribute to the report came following my interview with Karen Dobres of Lewes FC, the first football club in the world to implement equal pay and conditions for a FiLiA Podcast and I am grateful to Karen for recommending me to Julian Pike.
My input to the panel and subsequent interim and final report centred around the success I have had in increasing equality of access both within and beyond the sporting arena, in particular the critical success factors when turning policy into working practice.
On the panel in London I talked about intersectionality and equality within all aspects of the sporting arena, not just the sports people themselves on Boards. I concluded by saying, “If we could harness the same desire to win, to be the best you can be, that exists within the sporting arena and directing it to reducing inequalities, we would see the stereotypical responses to why it is not possible just fade away."
I have worked with organisations across all sectors and industries here in the UK and internationally and in all cases, there are key elements that have been critical in terms of bringing about real and sustainable change.
Organisations which adopt a holistic approach within a supportive change framework have all succeeded in becoming exemplar in this area.
The ‘Bespoke Frameworks’ I have developed enable an organisation to navigate the simple changes that are required to create inclusive working practice in a way that demystifies the whole process leaving whole teams engaged, informed and able to navigate any eventuality within a vibrant diverse organisation.
I am looking forward to further collaboration with Farrer & Co on this issue and others who are ready to embark on a journey to creating an inclusive world.
If you want to chat further about the work that I do and how we can work together going forward, please visit https://www.universalinclusion.co.uk/
Jacqueline Winstanley FRSA © 2020
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