Alastair Davis: Helping to give youngsters a sporting chance

Broxburn United Sports Club (BUSC), formed in 2008, brings together the local communities of Broxburn, Uphall and surrounding areas
Broxburn United Sports Club (BUSC), formed in 2008, brings together the local communities of Broxburn, Uphall and surrounding areas
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Broxburn United Sports Club (BUSC) provides a safe and social sporting environment for people of all ages to develop skills, maximise their ­potential and widen their social ­circles.

After years of discussion and efforts by different local football teams to improve facilities, BUSC was formed in 2008 to bring together the local communities of Broxburn, Uphall and surrounding areas.

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland

The £2.7 million Albyn facility opened in 2010 as the base for Broxburn Athletic Juniors, Athletic Colts and amateur boxing clubs and 33 children’s teams, attracting up to 2,000 people each week.

The Albyn has a full-sized 3G pitch, ten changing rooms, a boardroom, a physiotherapy room and a boxing pavilion in the former ­clubhouse.

A £250,000 loan from Social Investment Scotland (SIS) allowed for the building of an extension to create a multi-purpose community room, café and Room for All dance studio.

As well as allowing the club itself to offer a wider range of activities, the new facility provides a venue for local clubs and others to hire.

There is such a shortage of space locally that the Tae Kwon Do club booked space within ten minutes of it appearing on Facebook. Dance, yoga and HIIT classes also make good use of the space on a weekly basis. BUSC’s community involvement and its role as a hub of activities have allowed the club to build a relationship with local young people.

Youth membership has grown and children and young people have something to do in a pleasant, safe environment. Anecdotal evidence from the police suggests there’s been a 35 per cent reduction in antisocial behaviour as a result.

BUSC’s place in community life has improved inclusion in other ways too, including support networks for the local BME population and ­after-school activities for all ­primaries.

Personal development is at the heart of what the club does. It relies on its army of volunteers of all ages, whom it encourages to grow and improve. One member completed a degree in sports studies and now runs the soccer fives for 200 children.

Younger members have achieved their Saltire Awards, while ­others have taken up work placements with the club. BUSC has supported several young people in further ­education, notably sports studies, with work placements and volunteering opportunities.

One football coach went on to ­drama school and is now performing in ­Sunshine on Leith. Staff have also benefited from ­personal ­development, such as degrees in youth work and community ­learning.

However, it’s not just about young people. Older members of the ­community enjoy the Alive and Kickin’ programme which encourages them to remain active and aims to reduce social isolation. This could involve walking football, yoga, ­cooking, or reminiscing about favourite sporting highlights.

The new facility and activities have given widower Sam Miller a fresh lease of life. He got involved with BUSC’s walking football several years ago, but also participates in the ­walking group and supports the Athletic FC Juniors team. Sam helps set up activities and tidies things away, carries out some maintenance and makes sure everyone is enjoying themselves.

Talking about his involvement with BUSC, Sam said: “How would I describe it? Pure enjoyment! It’s made a big difference to my life.

“I exercise five days a week so I’m ­fitter and I really enjoy the social side with my friends.

“I’m not just seeing the same few folk, I’m making myself useful and there’s a real sense of ­community. I’ve got a routine but there’s a variety of things so I’m not bored. I love it!”

Social Investment Scotland ­provides investment for charities and organisations looking to make a real difference to people’s lives, society or the environment.

Since launching in 2001, SIS has invested more than £63 million in 300 social enterprise projects across Scotland.

More details about SIS investments and their effects on communities can be found in SIS’s annual impact report www.socialinvestmentscotland.com/social-impact-report-2017.

Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland.