Watching the pennies and the people: how volunteer led sport facilities have transformed services for local communities

Lindsay Findlay-King, Geoff Nichols, Deborah Forbes, Gordon Macfadyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
28 Downloads (Pure)


This paper shows how the transfer of public sport facilities to management led by volunteers has increased the responsiveness of services to local needs; while at the same time reducing running costs. It provides a contrast to previous research on transfer to large leisure trusts.

It draws on interviews with key personnel at 8 sport facilities transferred to small-volunteer led community groups.

Running costs have been cut because of the greater attention to detail and flexibility of volunteer managed services. The service has become more sensitive and flexible to the needs of the local community because volunteers are their own marketing information system, rooted in that community. The positive outcomes are driven by needs to attain economic sustainability; and to renew volunteer effort by changing the public perception of the facility to an asset created by the community, rather than just as a public service consumed by it.

Practical implications
The paper shows the progressive potential of the small trusts in meeting local leisure needs, making a case to support this type of sport facility delivery.

Research contribution
These small leisure trusts retain advantages of the large leisure trusts, established in the 1990’s, but with further advantages derived from local production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Early online date29 Nov 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Nov 2018


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