A UNIQUE charity sports shop where everything is £5 or less, and all profits are sent back to the community, has opened in Runcorn.
Sportstraider sells a range of quality sportswear and equipment all for £5 or under, catering for men, women, and children.
There are a few shops around the country, but thanks to a partnership with Cheshire Constabulary and funding from the Home Office, this will be a first for Cheshire.
The charity was set up by retired professional basketballer, Lance Haggith, who used his sporting contacts and passion to set up the charity to ensure sport is inclusive for all and that money is not a barrier for young people to become involved.
Lance said: ‘‘I launched the charity in 2009 for the purpose of helping disabled and disadvantaged children to participate in sport; so that could be anything from giving them a pair of trainers, to buying them a club membership, or if there isn’t a club in the area – creating one.
‘‘Now eleven years on we have stores and we’re all about outcome not income.
‘‘When you come in here, there’s something you can afford whether it’s a back to school bag, a hoodie, a tracksuit, a football top, a Nike cap, all for £5 or less.
‘‘The idea is to make sure it’s affordable.’’
Profits from the store will be given to local communities in order to further grassroots sports and youth diversion activities.
Lanced added: ‘‘It’s about giving kids the opportunity and chance to do something – for example if a youngster wants to play sport but they have a prosthetic leg and it’s an NHS leg and not a blade, so they can’t run and kick a ball, we’ll give them the blade.
‘‘We’ve done anything from cheerleading, creating clubs, and helping girls who have self-harmed by putting them into a boxing club; it’s not about beating each other up, it’s the structure, focus and discipline and somewhere where they can talk to others with similar problems and share their problems without being judged.
‘‘This is all about community. I want people to come in and say ‘where’s the nearest judo club for my eight year old’ and then we’ll have a list of clubs that have been checked and that we know are safe and if any children can’t afford the uniform or kit, we’ll provide it. It’s a wide spectrum.’’
Another benefit of Sportstraider is that the shops themselves offer opportunities for work experience for either offenders, people with disabilities, learning difficulties or other challenges which make finding employment difficult.
Chief Inspector Sarah Heath, who worked with Lance on the project, said: ‘‘We’ve done a lot of work in Runcorn and Cheshire over the last few years looking at providing safer alternative activities for young people to steer them away from crime and sport is something that obviously always comes up.
‘‘When I looked into Sportstraider, they shared that ethos about making sure that every child and young person wants to get involved in sport and most importantly, making sure that money isn’t a barrier.
‘‘We really want to give anybody that’s struggling getting work, with mental or physically disabilities, the opportunity to join the workforce.
‘‘It offers those opportunities to get work experience and get involved in the store.
‘‘I think it’s a really good partnership between the police and Sportstraider, and the Shopping City have been great helping us to facilitate the premises.
Lance added: ‘‘When I first met Sarah from the police and we spoke about the project and talking to people around Runcorn it felt very welcoming, very warm and a lot of lovely people, and I thought this is going to do well.
‘‘I’m really pleased that we’ve been open now for four days, and I’m pleased to say that out of all our shops across the country, this has been the best for the best part of four days.
‘‘I know it’s early days, but the indications are really good.’’
If you are interested in volunteering at the Runcorn store, you can contact Martin Keech on [email protected]