Families in Aberdeen facing challenges are being assisted through an exciting partnership which has enabled local charity Sport Aberdeen to create a new post. The project engages with families throughout the city which are dealing with uncertainty and stress by supporting children and parents to take part in sport and physical activity.

 Sport Aberdeen and Action for Children, a UK children’s charity committed to helping vulnerable children and young people, have recently joined forces to appoint a new Project Activator post within the city, made possible through a grant from the Changing Lives Through Sport and Physical Activity Fund - a partnership between The Robertson Trust, The Scottish Government, sportscotland and Spirit of 2012.   

 Julie Erskine, who previously worked for the sportscotland institute of sport as an exercise physiologist, has now been appointed to the role by Sport Aberdeen and is embedded within the Action for Children’s Priority Families Team. This will build on an existing partnership between the two charities which saw Sport Aberdeen provide free memberships to families who are part of the project.

 Having taken a career break to be a professional road cyclist, racing across the  UK and Europe, Julie decided to change direction and was “delighted to be offered the Project Activator post”, adding, “I felt it would be a great balance between working with people, utilising my sports background and my love of being active to help make a difference to others in the local community.”

 Programme interventions work both on a one to one basis and with the family as a whole. The project uses activities offered by Sport Aberdeen and partnerships within the local sports network, providing a wide range of opportunities that help meet key objectives including enabling vulnerable families in Aberdeen to:

  • enjoy better physical and emotional wellbeing
  • better engage in positive and constructive behaviours and choices
  • have increased confidence and self-esteem.

 The additional resource will allow the project to offer a much greater level of support to meet the needs of families and individuals within the city, who often have fewer opportunities to engage in sport and physical activity and are frequently affected by negative outcomes leading to health inequalities.

 Julie Erskine commented on her involvement and the positive impact of the partnership, saying:

“The free Sport Aberdeen memberships enable them to access local gym and swimming facilities, as well as swimming lessons with the Aquatics programme. The support we receive from the Active Schools programme has been fantastic where several children and young people have benefitted from their after school and holiday activities. 

“It’s extremely rewarding to see the positive impact that being more active has on families’ emotional and physical wellbeing and their relationships both with one another and other people.”

Keith Gerrard Director of Healthy and Active Communities, Sport Aberdeen commented:

“Successfully securing this additional funding, allowing us to appoint Julie to the post of Project Activator, will enable us to make a positive impact on a number of people involved in the Priority Family Project. It is Sport Aberdeen’s core belief that every child in Aberdeen should have access to sport and physical activity, which has a proven positive effect on both mental and physical wellbeing.

“With the addition of Spirit of 2012 as a new funder we are sure that this enhanced partnership will enable significant change and we look forward to continuing to work with others to create opportunities, inspire people and change lives through sport and physical activity.”

Ruth Hollis, Director of Policy and Impact at Spirit of 2012 said:

“We’re really pleased that Sport Aberdeen and Action for Children are able to create this new post, which will be so important in bringing about positive change for vulnerable families in Aberdeen. The Changing Lives fund is creating sport and physical activity opportunities across Scotland, which will have a lasting impact on the health – and the happiness – of all those involved.”

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland, said:

“We are very pleased to have Julie join our Aberdeen Priority Families team as a Project Activator. This role will play an important role in increasing the uptake of physical activities for the families we support at our project in the city. We are incredibly grateful to Sport Aberdeen for all of their support to date in this partnership as well as to funders for making this new post a reality.”