Skip to content
Sign up for latest news and events

Explore British Racing’s Directory of Community and Education Activity…

The Directory maps nationwide activities from over 130 organisations that are harnessing racing’s assets to help people develop skills, increase physical activity and create a more diverse and inclusive sport.

Email to add your organisation or retrieve your login details.

Zenna Hopson Active Communities Network 18 September 2019

A passionate advocate for young people, Zenna Hopson is the new CEO of youth charity Active Communities Network (ACN). Here she explains the importance of the Take the Reins Programme – to both the participants and the sport.

A lifelong interest in helping young people

I started my career working as a residential social worker some 35 years ago and have been involved in organisations working with young people ever since. I have set up two youth charities, as well as working in the commercial and public sectors. I joined ACN as a Trustee and was blown away by the work the charity does; when the founding CEO Gary Stannett decided to move on I put my hat into the ring and was delighted to be the successful applicant.

ACN is a national organisation covering seven areas, however we work locally in deprived communities, bringing multi-sports sessions to the doorsteps of young people in troubled communities. Using sport, we build relationships and support young people through personal development and accredited training, ultimately leading to opportunities and employment. At its heart, ACN uses sport to engage young people and provides them with opportunities to break the cycle of poverty.

Anthony Joshua ACN
Anthony Joshua boxing with Michael, who is part of the Lucozade Ribena Suntory- sponsored B Active programme.
The programme is delivered by ACN and is designed to engage young people aged 16-24 into sport and physical activity from some of the UK’s most deprived communities, where health deprivation and many other socio-economic issues manifest. B Active was launched in 2018 and is being delivered in five different locations across the UK; London, Manchester, Belfast, Hull and Newport. The programme supports groups of young people to not only engage in activities but to improve their lifestyles, wellbeing and future prospects.

Take the Reins has offered something new

I have LOVED getting to know the Take The Reins (TTR) programme, as so many of the young people ACN work with have never left their estates let alone seen a stable yard or been to the races. TTR has a focus on employment and expanding the talent pool for the industry; it is also able to motivate and inspire young people who might not end up working in racing. Expanding young peoples’ horizons and exposing them to new opportunities is central to what ACN does and working with the racing industry through the inspirational TTR steering committee has been a really great experience.

Take The Reins Programme Showcase - Malton High School
Young people from Malton High School enjoying a Take The Reins day at Doncaster

Last week’s programme showcase event at the St Leger meeting was a great opportunity to share the work that has been achieved in just over a year, not least that 2,842 young people have taken part, and 21 grassroots organisations have supported TTR. There were 37 schools involved and 146 young people achieved accredited qualifications through the programme and are now more confident and ready for the world of work.

ACN Take The Reins Lingfield visit
A Take The Reins group, facilitated by ACN visited a riding stable before racing at Lingfield

The event not only celebrated the success of the pilot but signalled the intention to develop the programme roots in the racing industry and expand and grow what has been started.

TTR also gave me the opportunity to attend Ladies’ Day at Doncaster, and as a racing-going novice I was very impressed – the atmosphere was wonderful, the hats outstanding and the racing was great, not least because my only flutter of day was a winner!

Take The Reins at Doncaster with ITV Racing
Back to news