From tennis to community support
Until the Covid pandemic, Tennis2Be, as its name suggests, was an organisation dedicated to equality, education and making tennis an inclusive and diverse sport. Equality is a theme at its heart as it sought (not only to) bring tennis to communities but to use the sport as a wider vehicle to encourage social engagement, community spirit and well-being.
Everything changed when the pandemic started. Most sporting organisations had to pause, stop...there was much confusion as everyone sought to deal with an unprecedented situation….but this wasn’t the way for Tennis2Be. Recognising grassroots community needs during lock down, Tennis2Be decided to transform itself and use its resources to support those most in need. This meant an increase from 2 to 11 service offerings.
Using the “Big Girl”, the charities fondly named minibus, Tennis2Be realised it had the tools to make an important contribution collecting and distributing ambient food, hot food as well as food parcels to those unable to access shops or use online resources. Thanks to generous and unrelenting support and kindness of donors, funders, supporters , local restaurants, supermarkets, helpers and community support friends such as: Morrisons, Tesco’s , Coop, Oxo Tower , Feast with Us , Kitchen Social , School Food Matters, Fareshare, Furlonteer, Mayor of London Fund, The National Lottery Community Fund. The Tennis2Be Community Support Programme was started and soon delivered to 7 hubs across London (including Lambeth, Golders Green, Westminster and more) with logistics donated by Carpoint Vehicles in SE1.
Since May 2020, Tennis2Be has distributed:
*120,000kg of food which is equates to:
*1600 meals per week including to children at risk of hunger during school holidays
Summer tennis programme:
During the summer, Tennis2Be ran a very successful tennis and food programme sponsored and funded by the Mayor of London in partnership with Kitchen Social and School Food Matters who provided daily fresh and healthy meals to the delight of the children. After thorough planning, a variety of activities were undertaken in a Covid secure outdoor setting where up to 120 children picked up a racket for the first time. The children were thrilled to use the “Big Girl”, our educational community vehicle, to carry out art projects ,plant, shelter from the heat and much more. A big thank you also to our kind donor, Mrs Bach who supplied tennis clothing including shoes, caps and wristbands to the charity.
Tennis2Be also works with organisations such as health and social care organisations aligned to the NHS and receives an average of 15 urgent referrals per week, demonstrating the trust and credibility it has earned in the community. Due to the urgency and unfolding aftermath of the pandemic, Tennis2Be did not have the time or spare resources to apply for funding and to date all of this work has been proudly executed with no funding, to which they owe much gratitude to all their food donors.
To support those living alone and isolated, Tennis2Be has a team of 10 volunteers who make frequent calls to help maintain spirits, provide friendship and support. To date over 1,150 hours of calls have been made.
Another initiative known as ‘signposting’ has seen Tennis2Be guide people on where to find help and support during the pandemic, for instance local services. Almost 500 sign posts have been made since the start of the pandemic.
Tennis2Be provides other support in the community such as:
housing help [ light, handyman help in the home, warmer homes, cleaning assistance for older and vulnerable beneficiaries]
education with volunteer or employment prospects through our European funding partners
and sport when when it’s more safe to do so.
Tennis2Be prides itself on its volunteers and the relationships built. Their motto is always to give more to their volunteers than what they give to the charity! Tennis2Be relies entirely on volunteers who step up to support those in need in their communities. So far over 15 people are supporting Tennis2Be in a range of activities. They are also proud to have international volunteers who originally volunteered locally for the charity and have continued their volunteering after returning to their respective countries, some as far afield as Mongolia!
Hidden victims of the pandemic
The pandemic impacts not only those who develop Covid-19 but also many others. Isolation, mental health and a host of practical constraints are the effect the lock down has on daily life, especially for the elderly and those with health conditions. Tennis2Be’s actions in the community continue to make a real difference to the, often, hidden victims of the pandemic. We are dealing with those who are lonely, have a list of medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, the homeless, those who have fallen off the radar , have mental health, are Covid positive and a range of other ailments. The community tells them that “the support has given them hope”.
Challenges and going forward
This last year has seen Tennis2Be at its busiest and they are only just coming up for breath, it’s been a challenge, but they believe in community and equality first, and it goes without saying, that there is still a long road ahead for its beneficiaries.
Premises: Tennis2Be has done all their work at the mercy of the elements, with no permanent premises. The food distribution during the winter months is particularly challenging for both volunteers and beneficiaries.
As a result, we are keen to expand and attain premises, where we can welcome our many diverse beneficiaries, which will keep them and our staff warm and welcomed.
2. Ambient foods: Additional shelf stable food such as pasta, rice, tinned food etc. are needed to bolster a diminishing and drying up supply of donated food.
3. Tennis2Be knows just how many challenges the community are yet to face and are keen to look forward by inviting those who are economically inactive from the Croydon and Sutton areas to get in touch for training, volunteering and employment opportunities.
To respond to this article, email: email@example.com
To refer yourself to any of our programmes or if you’re an organisation referring someone else: https://www.tennis2be.com/covid and mention this article in the “heard about us'' section.
To volunteer: https://www.tennis2be.com/careers and mention this article in the “heard about us” section.