A Tower Hamlets swimming club, set up to increase participation for women in sport throughout the borough, has won a nationwide award to acknowledge their efforts.
Tower Hamlet’s Women and Girls Swimming Club received the Kellogg’s’ Swimtastic Silver ‘project of the year’ award at a ceremony in Birmingham on Saturday, as a result of its successful initiative .
Created in 2011 with funding from Sport England’s Tower Hamlets Sport4Women scheme, the club was set up to help combat the area’s lack of participation in sport by women, which is one of the lowest in the country.
Since then, the project has seen 2,500 women taking part in the Sport4Women programme and over 80,000 visits by women to the participating pools in Shadwell, Bethnal Green, Mile End and Docklands.
Katie Ellis, coordinator for Sport4Women, said: “The programme has been a great success and it is great to get the accolade and show that what we have been doing has actually made a difference for people.”
She believes its popularity is largely due to its affordability, the enthusiasm of instructors and the session multiculturalism.
Sport4Women activator Jusna Begum, supported Ellis’ views, suggesting that the scheme encouraged a lot of the younger generations in ethnic minorities, who are not able to swim, to attend the sessions.
She added: “The other good thing about the programme is that when women come to the swimming club they see other activities that we run, and have the confidence now to participate in these.”
According to the club’s members and instructors, the benefits for the community have been seen both in and outside of the pool.
Participant Farjana Ahmed said: “The Sport4Women programme has helped me improve my water confidence and I can now go swimming regularly with confidence. I never thought I would be able to do that”.
Swimming teacher, Saskia Zafer, said: “In many ways London can be quite a lonely place, the classes give participants a chance to socialise and build confidence.”
Ellis added that the plan was to expand the project to other areas, she said: “We’ve initially started this programme in Tower Hamlets, but we want to roll it out in other boroughs and other parts of the country.”