Shoes to Fit Everyone

The recent publication of the ‘1 in 5 Cost of the School Day’ booklet brought home to many of us in the Sports and Outdoor Learning Unit the need to assess each and every situation to ensure there are no unnecessary hurdles to children and young people participating in sport and physical activity.

The title of the publication reflects the sad fact that there are currently one in five children in Edinburgh who are experiencing child poverty. The stigmatising effects of poverty can make it difficult for families to ask for help and support. In the context of sport, many children in these circumstances just simply don’t sign up for classes and don’t join sports clubs.

A fine example of positive action to address such a hurdle is to be found out at South Queensferry. The Queensferry Sports and Community Hub recently refurbished the synthetic courts adjacent to their community facility.

As Allan Carson, the Hub Manager recalls, ‘A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into raising the funds and persuading funding bodies to support our cause. We raised over two hundred thousand pounds to transform the formerly tired and dilapidated courts into a first class facility for our community. However, that is just part of the story. You have to be able to manage and maintain such a facility and for a small organisation like ourselves that is no easy task’.

‘This is when the idea of a ‘trainerbank’ kicked in’

As Allan explains, ‘To play on these new pitches it is important that suitable footwear is worn otherwise the surface gets damaged and the lifespan is greatly reduced. It became apparent that a substantial proportion of the local children did not have appropriate footwear and for the hub to be fully inclusive a solution had to be found. This is when the idea of a ‘trainerbank’ kicked in’.

shoes for everyone photo of corridor with shoes in shelves

The Queensferry Sports and Community Hub successfully applied for funding support through the City of Edinburgh Council’s Sport and Physical Activity Awards. This allowed the Hub to purchase a range of appropriate footwear and built a ‘trainerbank’ shoe wall to house them. The hub now loans the shoes out to any child who do not have appropriate footwear free of charge.

Furthermore, the Hub recently came to an agreement with Queensferry High School to provide access for them to deliver PE sessions on the hubs new 3G synthetic courts. The new ‘trainerbank’ allowing everyone to fully participate wearing the proper footwear.

We leave the final word on this project to Alastair Rarity, a member of the Queensferry Hub Committee, ‘The trainerbank. What a great idea this is. Children’s feet grow so quickly you have no sooner bought one pair of boots they are onto the next. So many people simply cannot afford them’.

That pretty much nails what the ‘1 in 5’ booklet is saying.

Footnote: In 2017-18 the Sports Unit through our Sport and Physical Activity Awards approved small funding grants to twenty three clubs and organisations in the city. The prioritisation of awards goes to projects such as the one outlined in the above example and to encourage sports clubs to engage in new developments that address equality issues.

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