How Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club went from a small cricket club to a community hub and #MoreThanAClub

Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club (WRCC) is based in Falkirk located 33 km northeast of Glasgow. The club was founded in 1908 as a cycling and cricket club after a meeting of local residents.

In 1995 they moved into their new ground, a former farm, having sold their previous ground, and I think it is fair to say that the clubhouse’, a converted barn, was not the most pleasant of places.

 Back in 2015 when WRCC was selected to take part in Cricket Scotland’s ‘Thriving Clubs’ programme together with local Cricket Scotland Development Officer, Ian Shaw, I met up with the club committee.

They then decided that their objective was not to be ‘The Best Cricket Club’ or ‘The Biggest Cricket Club’’ but ‘The Friendliest Cricket Club’ and a year later they won Cricket Scotland’s Award as ‘Scotland’s friendliest cricket club’, largely down to their transformative work with their junior section – taking it from 20 juniors to 118 with programmes such as All Stars (5 to 8), Westies (8 to 10) and Wolves (11 to 17).

Welcoming

 The fast-growing junior section also re-branded the youngest members as the Westies, with a West Highland terrier wearing a club logo on its collar, as their logo. The club then produced a Welcome Pack which explained the rules of cricket in layman’s terms, the workings of the club and introduced people involved with the club. (Remember, that cricket is a minority sport in that part of Scotland).

  Long Way

Through various initiatives and projects the club has set up over the past few years, WRCC have shown the sport can be for all growing it’s membership over 500% and improving facilities – and the hard work behind the scenes has not gone unnoticed.

Over the years, it has grown its junior section, increased female participation, removed barriers to participation for disabled children and adults, supported those living with dementia and most recently working with a partner group to support recovering drug and alcohol addicts.

Stephen Sutton, who has been involved with WRCC for 30+ years said: “I think the club has had a massive impact on the community. We see it as #MoreThanACricketClub. Some clubs find it difficult to engage with the community, but that’s what we’ve been doing for the last six years. People can see the benefits not just in terms of sport but in community facilities and we still want to do a lot more.”

Sustaining the long-term future of the club was its first objective, so the club financed and project managed a children’s nursery, which has enabled 70 families to return to work and employs 20 people from the area.

Glenbervie Kindergarden leases the building and the rent makes the club financially secure. In 2015, WRCC received the “Biggest Change Makers in Scottish Cricket” award from Cricket Scotland on the back of this work.

They have reached out into the community, promoting female social fitness and female only softball cricket, running multiple disability sessions, free bike repair clinics and helping local people living with dementia.

The club’s Chair Stephen Sutton said: “We believe that being inclusive is not about welcoming everyone who comes to the club but being proactive and reaching out to find underrepresented people and groups, and working with them to give them the same opportunity irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, gender or background.”

 
  Westquarter and Redding CC are one of Scotland’s clubs pushing to make cricket more inclusive and in 2019 they won Cricket Scotland’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award

 

Introducing Disability Cricket Champion Clubs across Scotland
Cricket Scotland have adopted an ECB programme called Disability Cricket Champion Club, and earlier this year Westquarter were named as one of the first three champion clubs in Scotland alongside Strathmore and Dumfries.

In 2019 Westquarter set up Enhanced Provision All Stars which runs in Enhance Provision classes of Falkirk’s primary schools which has now been adopted by Cricket Scotland as part of their disability pathway.

To provide an opportunity to children who wouldn’t normally be reached by All Stars and other regular programmes, the club worked with Lisa Male (Active Schools Disability Co-ordinator) to provide 4 weeks of cricket coaching to the Enhanced Provision Class at Easter Carmuirs school. Based on these sessions, WRCC approached Cricket Scotland to set up EP All Stars to bring cricket to the enhanced provision students and those from areas of deprivation.

 
Delivering Enhanced Provision All Stars classes bring cricket to the enhanced provision students and
those from areas of deprivation

 

“The funding available to subsidise the program enabled us to sign up all our pupils and get them involved. This would not have been possible if it was not subsidised … the sessions delivered were tailored to our pupils' needs and enabled them to develop their hand/eye co-ordination, balls skills and teamwork”.
Debbie Campbell, Enhance Provision Teacher at Easter Carmuirs

They have also run programmes such as Table Cricket, which Lord’s Taverners describe as “an adapted version of cricket played on a table tennis table, specifically designed to give young people with a disability the chance to play in the sport we all love.”

 
 Table cricket sessions run by WRCC with Forth Valley Disability Sports

 

 As part of their Disability Cricket Champion club programme, the club has introduced a disability section for ages 8 upwards and pan-disability. This has opened up opportunities for people with Downs Syndrome, Complex Needs, Aspergers Syndrome, learning difficulties, autism and amputees to play cricket.

This has been made possible thanks to the continued support of the clubs qualified volunteer coaches ably supported by the older juniors who were also keen to help and give opportunities to people who wouldn’t attend mainstream classes.

 
 Disability cricket session at Bailliefields (Photo courtesy of the Falkirk Herald)

 

Supporting people with dementia
In late 2018 the club identified a lack of groups in the Braes area of Falkirk supporting people living with Dementia so they contacted Alzheimer Scotland. On the back of this, the Try Something New group for people living with dementia and their carers was set up. In 2019 the club ran free sessions covering cricket, archery, petanque, chair yoga, photography, tennis, ballroom dancing, Italian, indoor curling, drumming, dementia dogs, tai chi and many others.

 

 

 “The Try Something New programme has given people the opportunity to participate in cricket, archery, petanque, yoga, drumming and ballroom dancing. Involvement in these activities has increased social, mental and physical well-being of the group members by valuing their contribution and increased awareness of both dementia and how to live well with the condition.”
Justine Davidson, Dementia Advisor

 
 The work done with the Try Something New group by WRCC was recognised when the group was nominated
and then chosen as a finalist in the Best Dementia Friendly Community Initiative at the Scottish Dementia Awards 2019.

 

 That’s just the tip of the iceberg though for the club that in 2021 transitioned to Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) status.

 The award-winning Cricket Scotland developed CricHIIT programme aims to increase female participation via a fast and fun combination of cricket skills and HIIT training. CricHIIT is a fun exercise programme designed to encourage females aged 12+ to try cricket by combining HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) principles with basic cricket skills.
Sessions ideally run in a block of 6-8 weeks to experience the benefits of the HIIT training programme. By adding basic cricket skills, the programme gives females the confidence to have a go a cricket! 45-minute session plans have been created by the Cricket Scotland Strength & Conditioning Team at three intensities to cater for all levels of fitness.
The taster sessions have been a resounding success with all those attending keen for it to become a permanent part of the club.
 21 ladies came along to week 1 of WRCC CricHIIT tasters

 

This has been backed up by feedback from the taster sessions with all who attended indicating they would return and scoring the sessions an average of 9.7 out of 10.
Some of the feedback received when asked what they liked about CricHIIT included:

  • “The team games and the inclusiveness”
  • “Teamwork”
  • “Fun team sport and exercise”
  • “It was good fun, met great people, got myself more active”
  • “Fitness improving and socialising”
  • “Fun, sociable, energetic”
  • “Looking forward to it starting up soon!”

 

Winning Scotland’s Local Club of the Year Award

Their latest recognition comes from the Sunday Mail/sportscotland Scottish Sports Awards, where they were announced as the ‘Local Club of the Year’ with them being commending for their impressive community work and approach to inclusiveness.

“The Local Club of the Year winner is Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club. Growing from 40 members to 200 in the last four years, and with impressive community work and approach to inclusiveness, the club is a deserving winner.”
sportscotland.

The award is given for an outstanding amateur sports club that has made a real contribution to everyday life in the community.

 The award was present by Scottish Football Internationist Leanne Crichton and
sportscotland Chief Executive Stewart Harris

 

Engaging The Community

In September 2021 the club held a Community Day at their Balliefields ground which was open to everyone in the local community. There was a chance to try cricket against a bowling machine, try archery, get your bike fixed, face painting, henna tattoos and enjoy some free food.

The club also introduced their new SCIO Bailliefields Community Hub (BCH) and detailed the work the club has done and it’s plans for the future. There was also an opportunity for the local community to ask questions and provide feedback on what they would like to see going forward.

The day was supported by the Asda Foundation's Bringing Communities Back Together campaign who awarded the club £1,000 towards the costs of the day.

DSC 9059 events
Running community days are an important
way to engage (and receive funding!)
Bailliefields is certainly a busy place being used by many community groups –
here is the schedule for August 2021

 

Developing the facility and transforming it into Bailliefields Community Hub SCIO
The club recently received funding and planning permission to install fully accessible modular changing rooms.

That’s part one of a two-phase project which will also see them convert their former changing facilities into a social space to become the home of Bailliefields Community Hub SCIO.

Stephen Sutton says, “The idea came about as a result of us realising that we need to build new changing rooms as they are no longer fit for purpose due to having almost 200 members, many of them female and from ethnic backgrounds.

“We decided therefore that rather than just build new changing rooms we should take the opportunity to ensure it is a building which can be used by the whole community as we are in the fortunate position of owning our own land which is just over eight acres”.

The extra rooms provide further changing facilities when mixed sex teams are playing but all rooms and the outdoor space (cricket pitch) will be utilised for community groups when no games are taking place.

Completing phase 1 will free up the existing building for Phase 2 to create the new social space. Phase 1 is fully funded with £100k awarded by sportscotland, £70k from Avondale (Landfill) and the remaining money committed by the club.

Planning for phase 2, the home of a new community hub, is underway with plans submitted for planning in October 2021. The estimated cost for these works is somewhere between £250k and £300k with the club already having secured £50k thanks to a public vote as part of Falkirk Council’s Community Choices Capital Awards.

Phase 2 will convert the old barn which houses the existing changing rooms and the adjacent shed to give BCH a home that is “a place for all”.

As the hub truly wants to make everyone welcome it will include a Changing Place. Standard accessible toilets do not meet the needs of all people with a disability. Over ¼ million people in the UK with a disability need extra equipment and space to allow them to use the toilets safely and comfortably. These needs are met by Changing Places toilets.

 

Future for Bailliefields Community Hub

BCH see themselves as an integral part of the community and a committed social enterprise being active members of:

  • Cricket Scotland - One trustee has recently been appointed to the Board of Cricket Scotland Holdings based on the club’s work
  • Forth Valley Social Enterprise Network
  • Sported - One trustee has recently been appointed to the Sported Members Panel to shape its future
  • SENScot
  • Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

 

Vision and Aims

The vision is to create a place for all; one where everyone belongs and all activities have a social element to bring the community together.Bailliefields Community Hub will deliver this vision by providing opportunities for those with disabilities, promoting inclusion and equality, reducing social isolation and improving health and wellbeing while bringing the community together and providing a place to connect.

Vision

The aims of Bailliefields Community Hub are to make the local community a better place to live by addressing the following:

  • Providing opportunities to improve the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Promoting inclusion and equality for the young and elderly.
  • Tackling social isolation and the health and wellbeing.
  • Connecting the local community and giving a sense of belonging.

 BCH are on this amazing journey and they are committed to expanding its reach and tackling inequalities within their local area, remaining a financially sustainable social enterprise. #MoreThanAClub.BCH are on this amazing journey and they are committed to expanding its reach and tackling inequalities within their local area, remaining a financially sustainable social enterprise. #MoreThanAClub.

 

October 2021
Sports Marketing Network
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