Sweaty Betty Foundation
The Foundation was launched in March 2021, and during our first year we’re learning as much as we can about the best ways to support girls and help them to get active.
In our first few years, we’ve worked with several organisations across the UK to get girls active, and have learnt more about the barriers girls face to being active.
We’re working across three pillars to empower girls to get active:
We do not run an open grants programme under any of our pillars, or in any specific geographic areas.
Where we work
We have initially focussed our work on a small number of areas within the UK, with a view to maximising long-lasting impact.
We reviewed geographic data relevant to our strategy, including income and deprivation data, levels of physical activity and levels of ethnic diversity.
Our focus areas in the UK are East London, Manchester, Leeds/Bradford and Glasgow.
Pillar 1: Schools
Research shows that many girls, especially the least active, don’t feel confident taking part in physical activity at school. For many girls this is their only chance to get active.
Our story so far
In the UK we have partnered with the Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading charity for improving the education and development of every child through sport and play. Working together with young women, we have co-designed fun co-curricular programmes, in which girls can try new activities like dance, boxing, fitness and yoga, and discover the ways they love to get active.
We designed the programme with girls in 12 schools in East London, Leeds and Glasgow over the autumn and winter of 2021.
Girls Active with Sweaty Betty was funded by The Sweaty Betty Foundation and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust (YST). The pilot was designed to target schools’ least active girls to become more active through an intervention bespoke to each school, based on cocreation and consultation.
The pilot supported around 150 girls within specific targeted communities across the UK affected most by the COVID pandemic. Working through schools, girls and teachers had access to the award-winning Girls Active, together with unique support from Sweaty Betty.
In the US, we partnered with GLSEN to support K-12 schools and make sports and physical activity more inclusive and welcoming for LGBTQ+ young people. We supported the relaunch of GLSEN’s Changing the Game programme in September 2021 with new resources and training for staff and pupils, with a particular focus on supporting trans and non-binary pupils.
In March 2022, the Sweaty Betty Foundation teamed up with Sweaty Betty on a collaboration campaign ‘Buy 1 Give 1’. The campaign ran from the 3rd – 9th March in all UK stores and online.
For each bra purchased by a customer, Sweaty Betty donated a bra to the Sweaty Betty Foundation to then donate to teenage girls who need them the most.
We were donated a total of 6,600 to give to girls across the UK.
After extensive research into various charities, youth clubs and schools that align with our mission, we partnered with over 20 organisations, distributing the bras out to schools and communities.
Pillar 2: Community
We know that activities run in local communities, by people from those communities, are great ways to empower people to get more active.
Our story so far
In the UK, we have partnered with Sporting Equals – a charity dedicated to promoting ethnic diversity across sport and physical activity. We ran a pilot programme called Girls Powered in Manchester where we worked across 10 locations in Manchester with approximately 200 teenage girls aged 13-18 years of age from South Asian and Black African Caribbean backgrounds, specifically from the most inactive and disadvantaged communities. We launched the project in September 2021 which ran through to May 2022.
We are extremely excited to launch the next phase of the project, which will run to the end of 2023.
When speaking to teenage girls across the UK in schools and in their communities, we learnt that the hijab was proving to be a barrier for girls participating in sports. Some schools wanted girls to take off their hijab during PE because they were deemed ‘unsafe’, meaning girls had no choice but to remove their hijabs if they wanted to take part in their PE sessions. Community groups found that the type of hijabs being worn for physical activity were not suitable for sports due to the nature of the fabric not being breathable or slipping off the head. Feedback across the board was that sport hijabs were expensive. If you look at the market today, sports hijabs range from £20 – £60 depending on the brand, and for the girls we work with this is not affordable.
We partnered with 6 girls from the This Girl Can initiative from Leeds called Limitless, and Sports Activist Lipa Nessa to re design the new SB sports hijab. 2 SB designers travelled to Leeds with us to host a design day to allow the girls to re design from scratch a hijab they would want to wear for physical activity. The girls had complete create freedom and even sketched their ideas on the day. They got to feel the fabric, try on styles, and give their honest feedback to the designers.
Pillar 3: Digital
Girls spend a huge amount of time online, but for many it’s not a safe, welcoming space that helps them feel more confident about their bodies and being active.
Our story so far
Working with Comic Relief, we co-funded a research report by Women in Sport (the UK’s top research and insight charity helping women and girls to get active) into the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on teenage girls’ activity levels and, specifically, their engagement with digital support.
We are using these findings, together with a piece of insight and research with teenage girls, to plan development of a digital platform which will support girls and help them to feel confident about getting active.
Working with Sweatcoin and This Girl Can Leeds, we’ve teamed up to create a teen girl platform to encourage girls to get walking. Sweatcoin rewards users in the form of ‘sweatcoins’ which can be spent in their market place. We’ve also set up competitions within the app, where girls can win various prizes for getting their steps in!