Investing in impact: Lessons in Change

Published on November 22, 2023 by Mimi O'Callaghan

Under the banner of ‘Investing in Impact,’ we hosted an intimate gathering for our supporters to gain the latest insights from Greenhouse Sports, starting right from the grassroots.

When we say ‘from the ground up,’ we mean that we don’t follow a strict hierarchy. Instead, our organisation is guided by the experiences of young people. This approach shapes how we operate.

What truly moved us were the heartfelt words and personal stories shared by young people, coaches, parents, school leaders, donors, and supporters. It was evident that we all share a common goal. The dedication of our coaches and young people is what drives us collectively towards success.

The power of mentorship: Maryam’s journey with Greenhouse Sports

Maryam, a young secondary school student, sat on our panel confidently in front of a room filled with adults—many holding senior positions in large organisations. It was an intimidating situation for anyone. However, she sat confident and tall as she spoke about the personal impact of Greenhouse Sports in her life. While telling her story, her coach Jago sat by her side, deeply proud.

Maryam began by recounting her pre-Greenhouse experience. “I never wanted to come to school—I’d wake up dreading it. But once Greenhouse came along, my coach started encouraging me to attend school and get involved with basketball—it changed everything. Now, I’m playing basketball both in and outside of school—and being one of the most committed players.”

It was her coach, Jago, who gave her that confidence, empowering her not only in basketball but also academically.

“Greenhouse has had a significant impact on changing me, not just as a person—but also in boosting my confidence in interacting with others. The coaches take you to places you never thought you could go. Before Greenhouse, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to speak up here today.”

“Greenhouse is like a family to me; it’s my safe haven. It has played a significant role in my life—not just as an athlete but as a student—with my coach encouraging me to excel in all my subjects.”

Maryam, Greenhouse young person

Jago: A testament to Greenhouse’s transformative coaching impact

Seated smartly, Jago wore a proud smile while sharing stories about the young people he has coached. His eyes lit up as he passionately described the transformative impact of Greenhouse Sports and his own contributions.

He highlighted a touching transformational story of a young person who initially displayed rebellious behaviour and disengagement from school. Through Jago’s intervention, they evolved into an exemplary student, proudly wearing in a tidy uniform and receiving praises from teachers for their academic achievements.

During the Q&A, he fielded a question: “You seem to work so much, from Monday to Sunday?!’” Jago appeared surprised and responded, “When you truly love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work.”

Committed to the young people he coaches, Jago remains dedicated, ensuring they thrive on and off the court. His dedication left the room inspired.

Beyond the court: Greenhouse’s impact on families and community bonds

Maria Guilliun a Greenhouse parent, sat next to headteacher Emma Loveland from St Annes. Maria initially expressed feeling nervous, but quickly—warmly encouraged by Emma—captivated the audience, sharing her touching story of how Greenhouse has enriched her and her three children’s lives (all who are a part of a Greenhouse programme) . “It’s that my kids are now confident!”

Maria described finding a family within Greenhouse. Her child’s coach, consistently served as a pillar of support for her. “They don’t just assist the kids; they assist families. When I’m having a bad day, I might vent to coach — she’s always at the end of the phone. Greenhouse has made a massive impact on my life, and I’m grateful for that.”

Jago also emphasised the Greenhouse family, highlighting his positive experience with highly engaged parents. When discussing Greenhouse’s impact, it goes “way beyond the basketball court.” It involves ensuring that his kids have lunch, warm clothes in winter, and forming relationships with as many parents as possible so together, we support the kids in the best way possible.

It takes a village to raise a child, and Greenhouse is most definitely a family.”

Maria Guilliun, Greenhouse parent

Addressing disadvantage: Greenhouse’s role in bridging opportunity gaps

Emma Loveland, Head Teacher at St Anne’s, bought humour to the panel through her expressive and engaging storytelling skills.

Emma talked about the impact tennis has had on her school – a sport that was not on her girl’s radar before Greenhouse. She emphasised how the introduction of the Greenhouse tennis programme is not only boosting girl’s confidence now, but is setting them up with life skills for the future.

Emma also touched on the concept of ‘disadvantaged backgrounds’, a term often used to describe the environments in which we work.

It’s crucial to note that being disadvantaged doesn’t mean a lack of hard work, effort, intelligence, or skills. Many in disadvantaged situations work tirelessly, juggling multiple jobs. It implies having a low household income, lacking resources, opportunities, or other societal advantages. Expensive living expenses, uneven distribution of resources, and systemic obstacles worsen these problems.

“As a headteacher, I witness families working incredibly hard. Some hold down 2-3 jobs, striving for the best for their children,” Emma passionately shared.

“Greenhouse facilitates so much. Our girls have explored Norfolk, Southend – they’ve even seen the sea, a first for some! For disadvantaged students, their lives are disadvantaged from birth, presenting huge challenges. And what Greenhouse does is break down these barriers, instil confidence, and offer incredible opportunities.”

Emma Loveland, St Annes Headteacher

Our data says it all

Greenhouse Sport young people excel in comparison:

  • School engagement = 12% higher
  • Mental wellbeing = 10% higher
  • Physical activity = 15% higher

As Nick, our Business insights Manager said “There are so many different activities we run that it’s hard to gather evidence for everything. However, since I started, I have wanted to take a more holistic view of our activities. It has been really rewarding to see that every time we gather data from a new source—such as parents—or receive feedback on holiday camps or residentials, the data and comments I review almost always reflect how much they value what Greenhouse has enabled them to do. These comments are truly empowering to read.”

This is a glimpse of our top-line data. Stay tuned for our upcoming full Impact report, where we’ll share key data and notable headlines from our impact measuring.