BVF Athlete Spotlight – Lynne Beattie

Taken directly from the British Volleyball Federation Website:

Background info

On the court, Lynne has competed at 3 Multi-Sport Games, Captaining the Great Britain Indoor team at the London 2012 Olympic Games before transitioning to beach volleyball and representing Team Scotland at the 2018 and 2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Lynne also played professional indoor volleyball in 5 different countries across Europe (Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Spain and Switzerland) and continues to compete for Scotland on the FIVB Beach Pro Tour.

Off the court, Lynne has been involved in a variety of roles in healthcare and sport, starting off as a Community Pharmacist, before moving to the sport sector in roles including Strength and Conditioning coach and volleyball development officer. Lynne is now working in a national role with sportscotland as a Partnership Manager in Community sport.

Lynne told us a little bit about her involvement in sport and social impact…

It was through my role as Regional Development Officer with Scottish Volleyball, that my passion for sport and social impact bubbled to the surface after enrolling on a sportscotland workforce development programme called Changing Lives Champions.  The Changing Lives programme is an in-depth training programme aimed at supporting the sportscotland professional workforce to effectively utilise sport to drive positive change in society and champion equality, diversity, and inclusion across sport.

I have always believed in the positive impact that sport can have on peoples’ lives, but it was through my involvement with this programme, that my curiosity around the impact sport can have on individuals, communities and society as a whole grew, and I started to explore my own role in contributing to that impact both as an athlete and through my full-time role with Scottish Volleyball.

We all know about the inherent benefits of sport in supporting our physical and mental health and wellbeing and we all know that sport has the power to change people’s lives, but quite often, the life changing examples, are just a by-product of that person being involved in a traditional sport setting rather than a club or programme designing and delivering their offer with real intention to have a positive impact on the lives of the people that take part or the community that they operate within.  This is Changing Lives…

As my understanding of the Changing Lives through sport approach grew, I began to plan and deliver my work more intentionally.  I stopped making assumptions about what schools, and communities wanted, and started to invest more time in having purposeful conversations with schools, communities and local authorities about their needs and priorities and how volleyball could help contribute to these priorities.

Suddenly I wasn’t talking to schools and clubs about membership numbers and event entries, but instead I was talking with schools about how we could work together to support positive destinations of young people leaving school in an area where the youth unemployment rate was the highest in the city.  Instead of talking to clubs about membership growth and hall lets, I was talking with clubs about inclusive, person-centred approaches to their offer and making their club environment more relevant and welcoming to those who are not currently involved. 

Sand for Schools

During my time on the Changing Lives programme, I was involved with the BVF Aspiration Fund application to UK Sport, which invited governing bodies to outline their commitment to social impact as well as their performance outcomes.

Prior to the launch of the Aspiration Fund, I had been working closely with Liberton High School in Edinburgh as part of the CEV Schools Project.  Liberton HS is based in an area with pockets of deprivation and high rates of youth unemployment and other social challenges.

My initial work with the school was focussed around young people as coaches as part of a wider skills development and employability project.  This project also connected to the school performance pathways programme that provides the opportunity for pupils to choose volleyball as a subject, supporting them to develop their volleyball performance and progress to our regional and national team pathways.  The newly trained young coaches would then give back to their school by coaching within this curriculum programme, gaining experience in a coaching role and further supporting their employability prospects. 

I started to have conversations around proactively connecting this work to a local club to ensure these young people had a pathway into both coaching and participating in our sport outwith school.  With these aims connecting well with those of Edinburgh Beach Volleyball Club (EBVC), who had the capacity to help drive this forward due to existing Direct Club Investment (DCI) from sportscotland in the area of building capacity, workforce development and reducing inequality in sport – a partnership was built around a shared purpose. 

Through my conversations with teaching staff and active school coordinators, it also became apparent that despite only being a few miles from the beach, some of the pupils had never been to the beach before, and so was born the concept of Sand for Schools – bringing the beach to the local community through a facility build on the school site.  This would not only be Scotland’s first ever permanent inland beach volleyball facility, and an additional space for the high school to deliver sport and physical activity, but also a platform for skills development with the potential to boost the employability and career prospects of young people at Liberton High School, contributing to a positive destination for school leavers and a wider societal impact within their local community.

The facility would also be connected to the Scottish Beach Volleyball Performance Pathway, as a key training venue for athletes based in Edinburgh, which would also provide the opportunity to connect young people to performance sport and help inspire and build ambition for the young aspiring athletes at Liberton HS.  

This was the vision for the project – we now had to work together to make it happen both logistically and financially.

With the support of the BVF we submitted this project plan to UK Sport as part of the Aspiration Fund bid and were successful in this bid.  The build was completed in January 2021 amidst the pandemic, and despite some initial challenges with COVID and restricted access to the school site, we are looking forward to making a difference to the lives of Liberton HS pupils and local people, using volleyball as a vehicle to do this.  Watch the video for an insight into the build and for more detail about the project, please visit the following article:  Sand for Schools

The strength of this project was in the collaboration between sports organisations, education and local authority partners – each bringing their own experiences and expertise to the project.  There is also a great deal of learning that we will be able to use to do even better next time.  Sports clubs and organisations cannot possibly have all the answers to difficult community or societal issues, but they can certainly play their part in contributing to being part of the solution. 

When you start to collaborate in this way over an outcome that is wider than just sport, the greater the opportunity becomes, to create meaningful partnerships, life changing opportunities and increased diversity within our sport. 

As a result of my involvement with the Changing Lives programme, I feel more equipped to contribute to work that helps remove barriers for people to take part in sport and believe that sport – when delivered intentionally – has an unrivalled ability to drive positive change in people, families, and communities, leading to wider social benefits.

I am looking forward to joining the conversation on the BVF Social Impact working group and am excited to share my experiences and learn from others about how we can do more as an organisation and a sport to facilitate connections, support communities and better the lives of others.