Charity praised for using sport as a vehicle for change

ACN Head of Programmes Hampshire, Julian Wadsworth MBE and Charlotte Bishop, Programme Manager for Hampshire
ACN Head of Programmes Hampshire, Julian Wadsworth MBE and Charlotte Bishop, Programme Manager for Hampshire
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MEMBERS of a charity working to improve the lives of deprived children have been handed a prestigious award in honour of their efforts.

Workers at the Havant and Portsmouth branch of the charity organisation Active Communities Network received the prestigious Laureus Academy’s Sport for Good Award trophy.

Sir Ben Ainslie (centre) with ACN staff Aysha Coker (with trophy) and Matt Luke (in black) alongside young people participating in the ACN support programme.

Sir Ben Ainslie (centre) with ACN staff Aysha Coker (with trophy) and Matt Luke (in black) alongside young people participating in the ACN support programme.

The network uses sport as a diversion for youngsters in a bid to save them from being exploited by criminal gangs and put to work as drug runners.

Hampshire head of programmes Julian Wadsworth MBE said: ‘We are extremely proud and honoured to receive this recognition.

‘We work in areas of high deprivation and use sport as a vehicle to engage disadvantaged and vulnerable young people.

‘Our programmes focus on social action, education and employability.’

Speaking when the award was announced at a ceremony in Monaco, Laureus Academy chairman and former All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick said: ‘I have seen the work of Active Communities Network many times and I’m more impressed with every visit.

‘I know I speak on behalf of the entire Laureus World Sports Academy when I say we are hugely inspired by their work.’

ACN’s Portsmouth programme is open to any young person in the area it has a specific focus in supporting vulnerable youngsters who may be experiencing difficulties.

Mr Wadsworth added: ‘We have a relationship with a lot of vulnerable young people in the Portsmouth area who have high needs. The award is recognition of our role in using sport to deal with issues in our communities.

‘Many of our young people are referred to us by the police or local schools. They may be lacking in confidence after suffering domestic abuse, have become embroiled in crime or are no longer in mainstream education.’

Youngsters involved in ACN were presented with the trophy at a ceremony at the Ben Ainslie Racing America’s Cup team’s INEOS centre in Portsmouth on Monday.

They were then able to put the knowledge they had learned into practice with a sailing session at the Andrew Simpson Watersports Centre.   

Callum Allen, 16, from Havant, said: ‘I really enjoyed today and I am very thankful to Active Communities Network for the opportunity.

‘Finding out everything about the INEOS GB sailing team and the technical side of sailing was amazing. The actual sailing experience was really fun and gave me a real insight into the sport.’