England Netball Partners with Peoplesafe to Protect Coaching Staff in Public Spaces

Posted: 22 Feb, 2024.

England Netball is the national governing body for netball, England’s second-largest female team sport. Responsible for the strategic plan of the sport across the country, it’s a not-for-profit customer-focused sport business, aiming to deliver a first-class member and participation experience.

At least 321,200 people play netball on a fortnightly basis and the numbers are growing, thanks to popular and varied England Netball programmes, such as Back to Netball, Walking Netball and Bee Netball. These sessions are often run in the evenings, predominantly by female coaches.

In a survey by The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, in partnership with Peoplesafe, for National Personal Safety Day 2023, almost double the number of women who responded had experienced harassment whilst engaging in sports and exercise compared to men. 19% of all respondents who exercised on an outdoor sports pitch had experienced harassment and 66% of respondents who had experienced harassment whilst exercising had changed their behaviour as a result.

12% of respondents who had experienced harassment whilst exercising said that they had stopped exercising altogether. When several England Netball community coaches reported occasions when they had felt concerned about personal safety in a staff wellbeing survey, safeguarding concerns were raised, and action was taken immediately.

The Peoplesafe Solution

With cost a factor in choosing any kind of precautionary safety device for staff, the Peoplesafe SOS app provided a cost-effective solution. Intuitive and simple to use, it could be very easily rolled out, with minimal risk of being accidentally triggered inside a pocket or sports bag.

Establishing a failsafe check-in system was important to England Netball, delivering much-needed peace of mind to any coaches working solo. Perception of safety for staff was something they wished to bolster, as well as being able to provide a fast physical response, should anyone find themselves in any kind of uncomfortable or threatening situation.

The Results

For England Netball, the Peoplesafe SOS app has provided an efficient and cost-effective solution to this sports-wide problem. To date, the app has been rolled out to coaching staff across the country, but England Netball has not ruled out supplying it to all staff, as part of its wellbeing ‘Netball HER’ initiative. This far-reaching programme is intended to drive change and generate conversations around women’s health and wellbeing.

Peoplesafe CEO and BSIA Chair of the Lone Worker Group, Naz Dossa, says:

“Women’s sport is going from strength to strength, thanks to wider support and the performance of our national teams and individuals. It’s fantastic to see such a positive shift. But as more women and girls are empowered and encouraged to take part, there is an important question to consider: Do we have the infrastructure in place to safeguard them?

For the policymakers who govern the development and use of public sport and community spaces, the issue must be made a top priority. We have a collective responsibility to ensure that women and girls can enjoy sports, without fear, and without threat to their personal safety. Sadly, we have not reached this point.

At Peoplesafe, we provide safeguarding solutions that mitigate personal safety risk and we are working with Crimestoppers to ask businesses, across all sectors, to step up to protect their employees 24/7. England Netball is just one of the organisations going beyond basic compliance to keep its people safe.”

 Yvonne Rhoden MBE, former police officer, now England Netball Development Community Coach, says:

“The Peoplesafe app is delivering peace of mind to the England Netball coaches working solo and offers a robust means for us to ensure we check in and out of sessions and have access to emergency help if we ever needed it. Netball is a fantastic sport, and we want to encourage more women to come out to play and coach with confidence.

England Netball have recognised that safety and perceptions of safety at grass roots level have a big part to play in the future of this fast-growing sport. And they’ve stepped up.”

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