15/10/2020- Articles

2019-20 Annual Report Series – Clubs and Regions

BF continues a series of articles based on the full 2019-20 Annual Report with a look at how we support our clubs and regions.

Following on from the BF AGM on October 10th, we continue the series of articles taken from the full 2019-20 Annual Report (found here). In this article, we look at clubs and regions:

In April 2019 Hannah Gavin joined the BF team in the EF funded role of Development Officer – England Clubs and Regions.

The purpose of the role is to support our affiliated regions, clubs and members. Whilst the focus is on England, much of the work done is applicable across the UK.

The Club Digest, launched in March 2018, continues to keep clubs up to date on a quarterly basis. During our 2019-2020 period topics included:

  • How to attract and keep volunteers
  • Updates to BF Membership and how to keep participants covered
  • The GB Cup and how it has evolved since its launch in 2017
  • The importance of mental health and links to advice and guidance
  • Further information around our social campaigns and how members can get involved

As at March 2020, there are over 600 members signed up to receive the digest. Sign-ups have been increasing steadily since it was introduced, with the open rate sitting just under 50%.

In summer 2019 BF launched a volunteer survey to better understand who donates their time to help our members, what roles they perform and what support they need. The survey ran from August to October and was completed by over 160 individual members from across the UK, 37% of which have been volunteering in fencing for over 10 years.

A wide range of ages are involved with 32% being under 35 and 45% of respondents were female.

Volunteer roles involve many traditional areas (such as coaching, running competitions,  etc) however supporting social media/website is now one of the most common areas which volunteers now get involved with. The most common reason for people to get into volunteering is that they ‘want to improve the sport/help people’. Further analysis of the results will provide the basis for more tailored research as we develop a Volunteer Strategy to be used across the sport to better engage and support volunteers.

A focus for club development over the last couple of years has been attracting and retaining new participants, through gaining a better understanding of how the needs of beginners are delivered in the experience they have in the sport.

Our Introduction membership gives BF the opportunity to tailor engagement with new participants, whilst at the same time insuring them to participate. This membership type lasts for 90 days and is free to anyone participating in fencing in an affiliated club. Since the membership began in 2018 there have been 3,704 individual Introduction memberships registered with 1744 of those being converted into a paid membership option. Feedback from clubs and members useful and invaluable this membership has been in helping them at a grassroot level and this is demonstrated with 57% of users continuing their journey with us. Further qualitative research was commissioned to gain a deeper understanding of the reasons why Introduction member participants were, and maybe more importantly, why they weren’t continuing with the sport.

BF took up an opportunity from Sport England to utilise its ‘Mystery Visits’ tool to gain insight into how we can better support clubs to support members. The programme is delivered in partnership with Right Directions who specialise in collecting and presenting feedback on different interactions with clubs. The first ‘visits’ took place in February 2020.

Once all the information from the research project and mystery visit programme has been collated and presented, BF will share and use the insights to inform and develop resources for clubs to help build on and improve their current offers to beginners and build on the good work they are doing.

At a regional level, BF has been awarded a Sport England grant to undertake an independent review of Regional Governance practices on behalf of England Fencing and BF.

Improving regional governance and providing clarity around purpose and function will allow Regions, EF and BF to work more closely and effectively together to develop the sport. It will also ensure that our sport is better able to take advantage of public funding opportunities at multiple levels.

On a national front BF is continuing its work with the Sports Membership International Network (formally the NGB forum). This group formed in 2017 has members from over 45 different sporting organisations across the UK and US. Its purpose is to be “a collaborative community network that stimulates conversations and ideas, to maximise membership programmes”. With Hannah Gavin joining the steering group we look forward to further opportunities to share best practice in delivering more to our members.


The full 2019-20 Annual Report along with the accompanying accounts can be found here.


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