South Bristol Sports Centre is a charity created to serve and provide facilities for the local community. We pride ourselves on being able to provide activities and facilities which cater for a wide range of public need.
The existing sports facilities include many outdoor football pitches, a gym, squash courts, physiotherapy and artificial sports pitches. There is also a diverse range of social facilities including sports bars, skittle alleys and function rooms.
South Bristol Sports Centre has been in operation since 2006, when it was granted an initial 25-year lease from Bristol City Council to manage and run the premises at West Town Lane, taking all responsibility for ongoing maintenance. Prior to SBSC involvement, the Bristol Imperial Sports Club operating on the same site was loss-making, run down and was likely to be knocked down and turned into housing.
After almost 10 years of operation, we are one of the premier community-based sports venues in the South West and, via its subsidiary South Bristol Sport CIC, have turned a loss-making facility into a sustainable social enterprise, generating a cash surplus and serving some 3,500 visits per week.
To ensure long-term site sustainability, we devised a plan to build six new small sided football pitches which would allow greater availability to users while at the same time, provided the sports centre with a larger source of income. We worked alongside Bristol & Bath Regional Capital CIC (BBRC) who helped us source the appropriate funds and provide the support required to apply after struggling to find funds elsewhere. We previously approached banks with no luck and so when we were made aware of the types of social investment available, the ethical approach of the fund structures mirrored the centre’s objectives.
The deal was also a brilliant example of the power of collaboration: bringing together a number of socially-motivated lenders such as Resonance, from individual investors to impact funds, to reach the £900,000 total investment required. The investment has now helped to secure the centre’s future but importantly, it has created greater pathways for young people - whether that’s professionally or personally using the power of sport to make a change and a positive difference to people’s lives.
By Ben Ferris, Director of South Bristol Sports Centre
This blog originally appeared on Big Society Capital.