Sports Partnership Team Scoop Vice-Chancellors Award

The Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership Fit, Fed & Read Team scooped the Team of the Year award at the recent University of Hertfordshire’s Vice Chancellor’s awards evening.

With over 1300 nominations received, the Team of the Year category was hotly contested and the success of the Fit, Fed and Read Team was a ringing endorsement of the work undertaken by the Partnership to improve the lives of some of Hertfordshire’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people.

The Fit, Fed and Read initiative represents local activation of a national StreetGames UK campaign and is held at Fire and Rescue Stations across Hertfordshire. It aims to counter the triple inequalities of holiday hunger, social isolation and physical inactivity and includes fun literacy sessions, delivered by the Hertfordshire Libraries Service.

In announcing the award Quintin McKellar, Vice Chancellor at the University commended the Partnership on its outstanding efforts and was delighted to announce to those gathered, that the Fit, Fed and Read programme had recently secured almost £1.5m from The National Lottery Community Fund, which secures the medium to long-term future of this innovative programme.

Welcoming the Vice Chancellor’s recognition HSP Director, John O’Callaghan said:

“We are delighted to be recognised in this way, as we are extremely proud to be part of the University of Hertfordshire and the support that we receive from the University, is immeasurable.

“Whilst our team is the recipient of the award, I firmly believe that this recognition belongs to the wider inter-agency partnership involved in delivering the Fit, Fed and Read programme. We are very fortunate to have Herts Fire and Rescue Service, Herts Catering Ltd, Hertfordshire Libraries Service, University of Hertfordshire, 10 district and borough councils and Hertfordshire County Council, as our partners in this venture, which is one of the most innovative and exciting projects that I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with.

“The support that we have received from StreetGames UK and the belief that they have shown in us from the outset, has been hugely encouraging and the feedback from participants and parents involved in the pilot project shone through as part of the comprehensive evaluation, demonstrating the difference that this programme makes to the lives of some of our most disadvantaged families.

“That our young people are unable to access a daily nutritious meal during the school holidays in 2019, is frankly scandalous and the preponderance of food banks that are springing up across the country are testament to the problems being faced by the less well-off in our society. In-work poverty continues to be a real issue and without the support structures that our schools provide during the term time, too many of our young people are being left hungry, without adequate exercise, interaction and stimulation. As such, programmes like Fit, Fed and Read can make a massive difference to the lives of our young people and their families during school holidays – which should be a time of fun, relaxation and enjoyment, but which can be a particularly miserable time for some.

The Fit, Fed and Read programme is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a range of key agencies come together behind a common cause and in this case, where the needs of our young people are placed firmly at the heart of the process and where any organisational egos need to be left at the door.”