How to improve your facilities

Are you looking to improve or find new facilities – or equipment – for your club?

From health and safety to the ability to welcome new members, there are lots of things to think about when it comes to facilities and equipment. Below is some advice from Join In clubs that have met some tough facilities challenges.

Sport England's Club Matters

External Resources

The guidance below focuses specifically on facilities – but for comprehensive support, facility development and more general club management, visit Club Matters, Sport England’s one stop shop for sports clubs. They provide free, convenient, practical resources to help you develop and run a sustainable club.

- Visit Club Matters↑
 Ionut Trandaburu
Ionut Trandaburu
Pegasus Gymnastics Club

“We want to move to new facilities but aren’t sure where to start.”

Ionut Trandaburu is one of the team at Pegasus Gymnastics Club in Maidstone, where new facilities have been vital to growth. Here’s what he had to say about moving to a new location and what the key things are for any club to consider.

  • First, be sure new facilities really are the answer. At Pegasus we’d reached our full capacity on the old site and we had dreams of growing our membership and becoming a centre of excellence. We knew we could only take our club to the next level with new premises. But it was a major commitment, it took us 2 ½ years to make our plans a reality. So look before you leap!
  • Remember the commitment doesn’t end when you move, because you’ve got to manage and maintain the site. You have to think about the ongoing costs of that and how you will meet them.
  • If you’re looking to raise a lot of money for renovation, you’re probably going to need to apply for some grants. For us the toughest part was proving the financial case and working out the budgeting and funding - you really need to work out how you expect the improvements to increase participation, help your local community or make the club more inclusive. Find out more about applying for grants here and for supporting with budgeting, look at the Club Finances↑ section on the Club Matters site.
  • You’ll also need lots of pairs of hands to physically make a renovation happen! So many volunteers helped us with the renovation and move - we could not have managed without them. With their help, we built the Squad gym, Gymnastics for All and Kindergym, a dance studio, meeting room, changing rooms, toilet, wellbeing centre, offices and a reception area. Create a Join In page today to start finding willing helpers.
  • If you can, plan your move so it has the minimum impact. We moved to our new premises over the Christmas break, which meant we were able to stay open.
For Pegasus, a move to new premises has enabled them to double their membership to 900 and helped spur some of their gymnasts on to national-level success. You can read more about their story here. But moving isn’t the solution for every club...

Volunteers at Downend Amateur Boxing Club are on their way to renovating an entire facility.
Volunteers at Downend Amateur Boxing Club are on their way to renovating an entire facility.

“We want to improve our existing facilities.”

Downend Amateur Boxing Club had a great building that had housed their club for decades – but years of use had meant it was in a sorry state of disrepair. Here project lead Craig Turner gives us his tips on how to go about overhauling your club house to give it the new lease of life it needs.

  • Have a main contact. In our case that was me! Someone needs to take control of the improvements. Clubs are always extremely busy – so you need somebody committed and enthusiastic to make sure the work happens.
  • Agree on the improvements needed. Is it something specific, for example a new kitchen or better access for disabled members – or do you just want to give your facilities a burst of energy? At Downend we had a problem with water damage, so we had to put on a new front roof to prevent this problem reoccurring.  
  • Identify the challenges. Run a risk assessment with a timescale for your proposed improvements. Think about the potential impact on the day-to-day running of the club.
  • Who can help? Now you know what’s needed, it’s time to find the expertise to help. Start with your membership and volunteers. Can they – and their family and friends – get behind the improvements and lend their time, skills or equipment to make it happen. At our club we have thirty people involved. Parents of members help out, people who are new to the area who want to feel like part of the community and even a man from a local care home who was involved in constructing the original building back in the fifties!
  • Use Join In. If you need more helpers, simply create a page for your club today – and ask for people to lend a hand. Remember that you can specify particular skills if needed. You might be amazed at the support you can find.
  • More expertise? If you’re struggling with construction, why not make contact with some local builders in your area and tell them your situation? They may offer their time for free, or have some helpful advice.
  • Fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. Think creatively about how to raise some money for your refurbishments. Club Matters has lots of great information on generating income↑.

For more on the Downend story, take a look at the Join In blog.


Join-In_sports-volunteering-feat

“We can’t afford the cost of our own facilities.”

If it’s simply too expensive to have your own dedicated facilities, you could instead find somewhere cheap – or even free – to rent. Although this limits your options, and can bring some instability to the club, it does remove a lot of maintenance and commitment hassles.

Where can you find cheap club facilities? Here are a few starters:

  • Build links with local schools and the wider community. Once they get to know you, perhaps they’d be happy for your club to use their halls and grounds when they aren’t occupied. (They may also offer you old equipment to use.)
  • Try your local leisure centres, as they will likely have facilities that you can rent at a low cost.
  • Are there any local parks – for example, with open spaces or courts – that you could use? If so, get in touch with your local council to see what permissions you’ll need to hold club sessions there.

“We need help buying new equipment.”

There are many ways to find new equipment for your club. For example, you could ask professional clubs or local schools to donate their old kit and equipment. Alternatively, you could raise funding to buy brand new supplies for the club.

Bolton Rugby Club is a great example of resourcefulness. Thanks to building strong relationships with the local community, the club has benefited from equipment and improved facilities. Find out more here.