Sporting Family Change is a needs-led charity working with families across Bath and North East Somerset. Founded in April 2014, the first gym sessions were hosted in Bath by two ladies called Jodie, which kicked off the adult exercise and wellbeing mentoring.

The charity has achieved many successes since their beginnings. In 2016, the group climbed Kilimanjaro to support a lady with cancer. The success rate of a group all reaching the top is about sixty percent because of the altitude. Sporting Family Change managed to climb all the way up with all members reaching the peak - with the lady battling cancer leading the way.

Since then, they’ve also cycled from Chilcompton to France, cycling to Salisbury before heading to the coast, onto the ferry to France, then cycling to Évreux on the other side.

Sporting Family Change was an idea that manifested itself in Jimmy Deane’s mind twenty-five years ago. After a period of unemployment, he had time to nurture and grow that seed into what it is today - an organisation which uses sport as a way to empower people, but that’s not all they do.

During the Pandemic, the charity received calls from local schools they were working with, notifying them of families in need. As a result, the charity started doing food parcels, and ended up making and delivering over 2,500 packages.

In April, the charity will be doing a ‘four countries in four days’ challenge via bicycle. They will cycle from London to the coast, catching a boat to Dunkirk, staying the night, then cycling to Brugge in Belgium. They will stay the night in Brugge before moving on to Rotterdam in Holland, staying overnight, before cycling to the final location in Amsterdam.

Jimmy Deane, founder of the charity said: “we don’t ever ask people to fundraise, but the people who are invited to come to these sporting events just do so naturally”.

When talking about their work ethos, he added; “Everything we do is based on kindness. We seem to surround ourselves with that as well.

“We just end up finding people who want to give as much as we do, without needing anything in return.”

“We’ve never advertised a role and nobody has a job spec.”

“If we ever did a traditional interview, so to speak, we would ask the question: how much are you willing to give to others first and yourself second?”

The core principal is to make people feel the warmth kindness brings, giving back to people who may not have experienced unconditional kindness before.

March 2024 will be a very special time for the charity. They will be celebrating their ten year anniversary.

To celebrate, Jimmy explains that they have big plans.

SFC will be doing a marathon in New York alongside adults from local families and communities, throwing a huge bash at the end of the challenge.

Jimmy explains that they keep core costs low, which allows them to fund amazing trips abroad to complete massive sporting achievements, which builds confidence in the people who get to experience them.

“Nobody gets paid a silly amount of money, we are all here because we love what we do and want to encourage a kinder society.”

To facilitate training for these sporting events, many staff members use their connections from previous roles as personal trainers and such. Many members of the team come from sporting backgrounds, and are able to utilise that to provide training grounds.

“There are lots of truly kind people in this world, unfortunately, if you turn the news on you hear all the bad stuff. There are an awful lot of loving people out there and that’s who we tend to float towards as a team.”

“For example, about four years ago, we met the only qualified doctor of kindness in this country - his name is Andy Cope. We are going to be making a BBC documentary with him, focusing on kindness and the impact it has on society. The next step is to find someone to narrate it and a film crew to shoot some video.”

“Our hope is that by Autumn 2024, the year of our ten year anniversary, we will have that documentary ready to go out. We are looking forward to taking the message to a national level.”

“For all of us, it makes absolute sense that this is the next step. The key is to promote the concept of kindness in society and the impact it has, not the charity. That is our driver at the end of the day. Not funding and how we are going to pay for the events we put on, but how we can change people’s lives just by being unconditionally kind.”

“We are a very risk-adverse society, so people don’t always understand our ‘business model’ so to speak. I’ve taken many calculated risks from day one and the harder you try, the better things work out in my book.”

“Although sport is in our name, they do involve other activities as well. The key essence of the ‘change’ in people’s outlook on life is just time - giving them that time to have a safe space to exist and talk if they want to, surrounded by love.”

“Everything we do is choice-driven, we are choosing whom we see and where we go, what we do and how we progress as a charity. People ask if we feel better by helping others, but I personally feel that it’s just the right thing to do. There’s no ego in what we do, we are not doing this to make ourselves feel better, it may be a consequence of our actions but it’s not the driver.”

“Our values, morals and culture are very important. We have culture days every 6-8 weeks where we discuss what’s been going on, how we are and how we feel”

“If you get the right people in an organisation where they feel valued and are doing what they want to do, they are naturally good at that and that’s how we work. This charity wouldn’t work if we didn’t all love what we do and were not motivated.”

“We’ve never been short of supporters, but we have never asked people to support us. It makes sense - kindness breeds kindness.”

“It’s the most amazing thing to be involved in. I’m as excited to go to work every day now as I was when I started. Only when that stops, will I stop doing this.”

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