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Increased diversity of student volunteers in AoC Sport Leadership Academy during pandemic

AoC (@AoC_info) Sport’s volunteering programme in colleges reached its widest student audience last year despite the difficulties with COVID-19.

According to Sport England data, volunteers in sport and physical activity are overwhelmingly white, middle class and male, therefore AoC Sport seeks to directly tackle this lack of diversity in colleges.

The programme was delivered virtually during 2020-21 due to the pandemic and resulted in more than half (52%) of students coming from different courses and backgrounds outside of sport. While nearly a third (32%) had a disability and 64% were women students – all of which is an increase from previous years.

The AoC Sport Leadership Academy is in its fourth year and supports colleges to enhance and develop student volunteering programmes with the aim to get more students volunteering and to diversify the workforce in sport and physical activity.

In total 406 students volunteered through the AoC Sport Leadership Academy as either This Girl Can Ambassadors, Mental Health Ambassadors, Inclusion Ambassadors or through projects funded by the new Development Fund.

Despite the challenges of Covid-19, projects were successfully delivered as part of the Leadership Academy Development Fund, which was created to specifically support colleges in engaging students from lower socio-economic groups, from ethnically diverse backgrounds, those with a disability and LGBTQ+ students to volunteer in sport and physical activity projects.

Projects were delivered at City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College, Kirklees College, Leeds City College, Tyne Metropolitan College and Varndean College and saw students positively impact their colleges, peers, and local communities whilst gaining qualifications, developing key personal capabilities, and enhancing employability skills.

Dean Hardman, AoC Director of Sport and Student Experience, said:

“It is really encouraging to see that more students from different backgrounds took part in volunteering programmes across colleges despite all the difficulties in the past year. It shows the appetite is there to engage in activities and we will continue to support colleges to harness that interest so the volunteer pool is more representative of the student population.”

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