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What challenges do our young people face and how do we help them?

Greenhouse Sports works to address issues experienced by young people growing up in disadvantaged communities in inner London. In mainstream schools we harness the power of sport to tackle problems that lead to absenteeism and consequent underachievement. In SEN
schools – where the provision of physical activity is generally limited – we also help young people work towards independence. Through our community clubs we expand the social and cultural horizons of young people from all backgrounds.

SEN Greenhouse Sports Arsenal Emirates Stadium

Participation in sport reduces the risk of many chronic physical conditions (such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and obesity); it combats mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, and improves brain function and self-esteem. Participation in sport is also known to increase young people’s commitment and attention in the classroom. Sport is thus a cost-effective way to address both absenteeism and underachievement.

Greenhouse Sports focuses on young people from disadvantaged backgrounds because they have an increased tendency towards absenteeism: they often feel that they lack control over their learning, and are frequently reluctant to engage with a structured teaching curriculum. The link between absenteeism and underachievement is clear: only 3% of pupils who attend school for less than half the year gain five or more GCSEs at grade C or above; for those with high attendance (95% or more) this figure is 73%.


Among young people with SEN, fewer gain five or more GCSEs at grade C or above than those without SEN. On top of this, such young people are less likely to progress to further or higher education or find a full-time job, and are more likely to report feeling unhappy at school and to experience poor general well-being. By helping combat absenteeism and guiding them towards independence, Greenhouse Sports can therefore provide these young people, and their families and carers, with life-changing experiences.

The ambition of GSFC, our largest community club, is specifically to help young people overcome problems associated with growing up in a deprived area. In such areas race, ethnicity, or culture can exclude a young person from mainstream services, while the tendency to bond with others of the same background can reinforce stereotypes that negatively impact the wider community. The result is increased crime, postcode territorialism, and antisocial behaviour. Young people living in
areas with a lack of opportunities also risk becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training).

Based between several large housing estates in the London borough of Southwark, GSFC is a safe space for young people of different cultural backgrounds to come together. In their training sessions and mentoring relationships, our coaches emphasise positive communication,
teamwork, and leadership, both combating the negative effects of growing up in an area of high deprivation, and boosting player aspirations and development.