A charity from Bradford has revealed it has saved families across the district over £90,000 in football boots and sports uniforms through its free kit distribution in just six months.
Action For Sports, a charity that provides free sports kits, trainers and football boots to disadvantaged children, was co-founded by Andrew Kenure and Clive Michallat at the tail end of 2018 as a response to witnessing extreme levels of poverty in a school in Bradford.
They noticed that many children would often skip PE lessons – or classes altogether – to protect themselves against the perceived embarrassment of not having the correct sports kit and having to ask their teachers for spare activewear.
According to the latest statistics released by the Department for Work and Pensions, Bradford has the highest child poverty rate in the region, with an estimated 38% of children living below the breadline across the district.
This is compared to a national average of 31%, and the highest rate of child poverty outside the North East.
Of the children in poverty in Bradford last year, 12,172 (25%) were below school age. The majority of children (69%) were in working households, while 29% were in lone-parent families.
The charity collects outgrown sports kits from families across Yorkshire to distribute them to children who are deemed to be living in poverty in the UK, providing free footwear and sports kit to children on free school meals, children in care, and pupils adopted from care or who have left care. In just six months, they saved over three tonnes of clothes and boots from ending up in landfill.
Co-founder of the organisation and part-time talent scout for Bradford City, Clive Michallat, said: “We founded the organisation in December 2018. Andrew Kenure, the other co-founder of Action For Sports, and I, both worked in a school, and we saw first-hand the extreme levels of poverty. We saw that children were missing school because they didn’t have the right football boots or sports kit.
“In March 2020, we became a registered charity but then the pandemic struck and like everybody else, it stopped us in our tracks. Now we are extremely active and want to make up for lost time. Andrew and I were both born in Bradford and we’re immensely proud of the city, but there is so much poverty and we need others to help.”
The charity is currently working with BEAP Community Partnership to provide sports kits to children in Manningham. Since joining forces five weeks ago, the organisation has provided the community centre with Bradford City football kits to give to children from the area with more exciting work planned for the imminent future.
Mr Michallat, added: “Humayun, Andrew and I sit on the equality and diversity committee at Bradford City FC. Through that, Humayun came to us to talk about the need in the community for kits and five weeks down the line, we’ve provided BEAP with a number of Bradford City kits.
“They’ve got a brand-new sports facility, but they don’t have the kit for the children – the socks or the shorts needed, so we were able to provide some through my links at Bradford City. We’ve got a lot of exciting things coming in the pipeline.
“This partnership is special to me because my surname, Michallat, is French and the Michallat family lived one minute from Bradford City and BEAP a long time ago, so in a way, it is nice to help the community that I came from.”
The charity has several ambassadors including Team GB athlete, Alexandra Bell, Hafeez Khan, vice-principal of Laisterdyke Academy, James Mason, chief executive of West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Mahmud Nawaz, a non-executive director at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, among others.
The part-time football scout for Bradford City mentioned: “Every so often, we will put out an appeal to the public asking whether they have any spare football boots that their children have grown out of, and we collect them. We also work with West Riding FA who also support us massively.
“We work closely with One in a Million school that is just across from BEAP.
“They informed us that children participating in after-school sports activities have gone up as well as the number of children skipping school on PE days decreasing as well through our kit provision.
“People may wonder why they haven’t seen children receive the kit and it is because we are very discreet, we wouldn’t want children to be seen to be given things and then bullied by other children for having donated items.”
Humayun Islam, chief executive of BEAP Community Partnership, said: “Action For Sports have been fantastic at providing resources and kits to children who are underprivileged and wouldn’t normally have that support as their parents are unable to afford new tops or football boots.
“This partnership will provide a real opportunity to children so that they can take part. We had kit dropped off from Bradford City and now the children can feel part of their home club and feel confident in playing football. It is a much-needed service and Clive is such a lovely person, he is genuinely trying to provide an opportunity to children who want to participate in sports who otherwise wouldn’t be able to play.”
For more information on how to receive a free sports kit or to donate outgrown items in good condition, please email email@example.com.