John Lewis has trained almost 200 partners as sports coaches over the past 12 months, providing over 40,000 hours of support to local communities as part of its Partners in Sport programme.
Overwhelmingly, football was the sport of choice for almost half of the partner coaches, followed by athletics, swimming and netball.
Launched in autumn 2008, Partners in Sport is a programme that enables partners (employees) of John Lewis Partnership to engage in sport, touch the spirit of the Olympics and lead healthier lifestyles in the run up to London 2012.
Partners can apply for a range of things including; training to be a sports coach, help in setting up fitness clubs and facilities in their branch or even competing at a national and international level for the UK. The programme will continue through to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A core element of the programme is a strategic partnership with Sports Coach UK, the government-backed agency with responsibility for the development of the UK coaching system. John Lewis Partners in Sport will contribute towards the Government’s targets in grassroots coaching by training up to 1,000 Partners to qualify as sports coaches in their local community.
Simon Wardell, manager, Partners in Sport, John Lewis Partnership: “We are delighted to be able to provide such a tangible benefit to improve the wellbeing and develop the skills of our workforce. Our Partners in Sport programme was introduced to enable partners to engage in sport as well as have a healthier lifestyle in the run up to London 2012. Partners told us they were keen to gain a coaching qualification to give back to their local communities, to develop new skills and to improve their own health. Two years in, we are well on our way to achieving our goals –in terms of our workforce and helping the local community.”
Tony Byrne, CEO, Sports Coach UK, said: “Coaching sport is a very rewarding activity and coaches are a valued part of the sporting community. This programme enables Partners to develop key transferable skills through supported development and practice, as they become coaches. Partners will have a lasting experience which not only benefits the sporting infrastructure, but gives them the challenge and pleasure of helping others to develop and improve.”
Partners in Sport provides Partners with access to courses and a mentor in order to gain a coaching qualification. At present 27 sporting qualifications are offered as part of the programme, which will be extended further to incorporate additional sports and disciplines over the years.
In addition to coaching, the John Lewis Partners in Sport programme will provide support and advice to partners and their close family members who are competing at a national level or above in their chosen sport. Open to all working Partners, the sponsorship will allow them to choose practical help as opposed to financial support – for instance, travel and accommodation, supplying specific foodstuffs in consultation with nutritionists or upgrading equipment.