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New funding for Our Parks coaching project

The outdoors exercise programme is looking to increase their number of coaches from under-represented groups.

26th February 2020

Outdoor activity provider Our Parks has been awarded a £245,000 National Lottery award to create a more representative coaching team and encourage more people to get active.

Our Parks was founded by Born Barikor in 2014, with the goal of giving people in London access to free outdoor exercise sessions.

With initial backing from Waltham Forest Council, Our Parks quickly grew and has since received funding from us to support further growth around London and England.

Now, with Our Parks reaching more than 100,000 people across England, Born is launching the ‘Coach Parker’ project aimed at growing his coaching workforce and increasing the number of people from under-represented groups engaging with their sessions.

“This award marks a new era in coaching and is so important to empower communities, individuals and those from all backgrounds with the right to coach or volunteer in the urban outdoor exercise space,” he said.

“I am a byproduct of good coaching in an urban environment that came to me at a low point in my life when things could have gone in so many directions.

“The power of good coaching is life changing and Coach Parker will adapt the approach to what coaching is and where it takes place to broaden the DNA of our coach and volunteer workforce.”


In five years Our Parks has seen 100,000 'Parkers' use their sessions

In 2017, we worked with London Sport to get a better understanding of the impact of the workforce across the capital.

The ‘Bigger, Better Workforce’ report showed that the sport and physical activity workforce lacked diversity and people in the workforce didn’t see it as their role to engage inactive people.

It also showed that inactive people were initially hesitant about engaging with sport and physical activity instructors, but that once they did they valued the experience and it was a big driver to keeping them motivated and committed to continuing physical activity – especially if the instructor was someone relatable.

Coach Parker will adapt the approach to what coaching is and where it takes place to broaden the DNA of our coach and volunteer workforce

Born Barikor

Founder of Our Parks

In recruiting their coaches and instructors, Our Parks don’t look at qualifications, rather they run ‘auditions’ to see how their coaches make people feel when getting active.

This investment into Coach Parker will allow Born to recruit more coaches that are relatable to his ‘parkers’ – those that take part in Our Parks sessions.

“They have 500 parkers on a waiting list to become coaches,” said Stuart Armstrong, our strategic lead for workforce transformation.

“Most of these people were previously inactive, are from the kinds of communities that don’t access physical activity, and are currently marginalised from our workforce because the costs of qualifications is a barrier and the way the qualification is delivered is off-putting – particularly for those who have been less engaged by formal education.

“Coach Parker seeks to address this challenge by making it easier for the people with the ‘star dust’ to pass on their passion, join the workforce and inspire others to make becoming physically active a reality.”

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