Powered by funding from the Wellcome Trust, which is managed and supported by the British Science Association, The Ideas Fund is a unique model, which offers the Roundheads, as the community partner, an opportunity to drive the project idea and be matched with a researcher from the University – to create the play Safer, to enhance mental wellbeing, the theme of the fund, by valuing the voices of the team through knowledge exchange between the two partners.
Dr Sarah-Jane Dickenson, as the original researcher delved deep into the motivations and obstacles that LGBTQ+ community members encounter in their quest for sports involvement. This comprehensive exploration led to the creation of "Safer," a compelling 50-minute play. A combination of research, knowledge exchange, live theatre, and community engagement intersect to drive change and amplify the voices of the LGBTQ+ community in sports.
The project is piloting in schools and colleges, offering a performance of the play and a workshop after – led by Dr Lucy Fielding. This educational strand is working with young people to discuss themes of inclusion, exclusion and toxicity; specifically addressing banter. By discussing specific characters and the journey they go through, young people are able to highlight problems and solutions within the context of the play without having to discuss the personal experiences of themselves or their peers; creating a safe space for discussion. This aspect of the project aims to support schools and colleges improve their understanding and capacity to be inclusive both within and outside of a sports setting, centralising the voices of young people.
In partnership with Active Humber, a further pilot is working with community sports groups in the region to spotlight the experiences of LGBTQ+ individuals in other sports, both at grassroots and elite level (taking advantage of the University’s partnership with Team GB to do so). Exploring how the stories of Safer resonate with their own efforts to further inclusion, these clubs will work with researchers to articulate and amplify their visions of what an ideal inclusive sports club should look like in the future.