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AoS discussion forum highlights value of teamwork

The Alliance of Sport Community of Practice’s discussion forums on partnerships in sport and criminal justice got off to an excellent start at the University of Gloucestershire.

The first of the four forums, which are forming part of ongoing research into the value of sport-based partnerships in criminal justice being conducted by Dr Haydn Morgan and Dr Colin Baker, brought together a wide range of organisations associated with the sector.

In total, 25 people from the South West of England, the West Midlands and South Wales who utilise partnerships working to enhance the effectiveness of their work in sport and the criminal justice system attended the event, which took place before the COVID-19 lockdown in March.

“We were delighted with the quality of discussions and the engagement from all participants,” said Dr Morgan, who is a member of the Alliance of Sport’s Steering Group.

“We wanted to create an environment which would enable honest and open conversation that was intended to share practice and learning. This was certainly achieved.

“In addition, it was great to bring together a broad range of organisations associated with the sector, and I am sure that many attendees benefited from the opportunity to network and explore new opportunities and contacts – or pick up on conversations and work with existing connections.”

Justin Coleman, the COO and Co-Founder of Alliance of Sport for Criminal Justice, Tanayah Sam of TSA Associates, Salford Community Lifestyle Centre Founder Nick Burke and Newport Live Senior Development Officer Lucy Donovan were the guest speakers.

Nick outlined the processes he undertook in working with other organisations to develop the Salford Lifestyle Centre. He spoke about the many passionate and well-intentioned partners he had worked with as being key to success, and touched upon the challenges, in particular where a partner’s passion and enthusiasm wasn’t matched by capability or expertise.

His session also touched upon the need for ‘credibility’ as a partner – a combination of being personable but also reliable.

Alliance of Sport Discussion Forum


Tanayah gave an impassioned talk on his experiences of being a recipient of partnership working during his time in prison and also highlighted how partnership working has enabled him to support young people in his current work.

He also posed the question of whether partnerships should be used as ‘prevention’ or ‘intervention’, and spoke of how working in partnership is a necessary approach to addressing the challenges of contemporary youth culture.

Lucy provided a highly detailed talk on how Newport Live has worked with partners in the delivery of their projects and services. She signposted various examples of where partnership working had benefited projects, but also gave insights into the factors that may undermine effective partnership.

She said that it was clear that where partners shared a common agenda, were consistent in their approach and had a genuine interest in the project that they were contributing to, that partnership working could be effective. However, Lucy also pointed out that where a transactional mentality was evident, and process and financial considerations dominated the partnership landscape, the outcomes were less effective.

Justin presented the virtues of a ‘whole person approach’ to partnership working. Picking up on themes highlighted by Lucy, he argued that where an individual’s specific needs were identified as a starting point for partner selection, the gaps in provision could be more easily identified. This then allowed  individualised, person-specific partnerships to be constructed to address these gaps and deliver more effective outcomes.

The plan now is to follow up the Gloucester event with similar forums in Manchester, Leeds and London – once it is safe to do so.

“Whilst the Gloucester event produced some fantastic discussion, many of the themes and topics reinforced many of the findings of previous research related to partnership working,” said Dr Morgan.

“The future events will look to add further evidence in relation to these themes, but also seek to explore in more detail ‘what works’ specifically in partnerships which utilise sport in crime prevention and rehabilitation.”



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