MAKE GREATER MANCHESTER THE BEST PLACE IN ENGLAND FOR CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE AND YOUNG ADULTS AGED 5-25 TO GROW UP, DEVELOPING THEIR LIFE CHANCES THROUGH A MORE ACTIVE LIFESTYLE, WITH A FOCUS ON REDUCING INEQUALITIES.
We know that physically active children and young people are more likely to do better academically and that physical activity can have a positive impact on mental health. Just 63.4% of children and young people in Greater Manchester (GM) are moving, achieving at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day; lower than the national rate of 68.7% .
What have we done?
Over the last 12 months, there were three main themes to our work:
1. Supporting providers, through advice, guidance and funding, to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the young people of Greater Manchester still had opportunities to be active.
We did this though traditional programmes like The Greater Manchester School Games and the Satellite Clubs. The Satellite Clubs supported the creation of 45 new clubs and 886 new participants to engage in activity. Some organisations were financially supported to adapt their sessions as lockdown and restrictions saw clubs switch to digital engagement and delivery.
As the GM School Games were cancelled, we worked in collaboration with the 23 organisers to create, collate and house a number of inclusive virtual activities for a variety of age groups to take part in, either in school or at home. These opportunities allowed schools and communities to navigate and use relevant resources appropriate to their current situation, aiming to keep young people active, healthy and happy. We also provided messages to teachers that could be shared with parents about The Daily Mile to encourage them to take part in The Daily Mile at home. Though schools were closed for part of the year, schools continued to sign up to The Daily Mile and this year we reached the landmark of 500 primary schools signed up to the programme.
2. Ensuring there was more funding flexibility attached to our programmes to support deliverers adapt to changing restrictions.
We recognised that the process for funding can be a barrier to getting the money to places where it could have the biggest impact and working to funding deadlines can sometimes slow the process down. We adapted our processes, particularly with the satellite clubs to ensure organisations could quickly access the funding they needed to adapt their sessions to keep people moving through the pandemic.
3. Go where young people are and put physical activity on their agenda.
We committed to supporting the cross sector collaboration in forming the Youth Alliance for Greater Manchester. As a part of our commitment to the steering group, we supported the GM Youth Hustings to enable young people to have a voice in challenging the GM Mayoral Election candidates and saw questions posed to candidates about their commitment to mental and physical wellbeing, including access to activity.
During a pilot using investment from the Department for Education we began to explore opening school facilities - creating new safe spaces for young people and the wider community to take part in activity. We used this opportunity to understand schools, their priorities and the barriers to opening facilities outside the school day, which became even more pertinent during the Covid-19 pandemic. The national project learning's can be found here.
Case Study: Engaging young people differently through the Young People Forward project
This year we worked with new partners including Barnardo’s, Salford Foyer and Greater Manchester Bridges Outcome Partnership and Wigan Athletics Community Trust on a project, funded by the The London Marathon Charitable Trust, to improve the health and wellbeing of young homeless people across Greater Manchester through access to physical activity and mentoring.
We took a different approach to this programme and went where young people already were, as opposed to supporting an organisation to recruit participants. We contacted a number of organisations across GM who we knew were working with young homeless people who would benefit from this project. Once the organisation was on board with the programme we consulted with the young people to find out what sport or activity they would like to do.
To date we have engaged 40 young people across Manchester, Bury, Salford and Wigan in a variety of projects and activities including yoga, football and walking.
One of these participant is H: a 17-year-old male who has recently faced disadvantage and inequality due to leading what he himself described as ‘a chaotic and crazy lifestyle.’ H was used to staying at friends' houses and sofa-surfing after falling out with his parent/s. H lived at Salford Foyer. We approached Salford Foyer to be part of this programme. The organisation agreed, so we put them in contact with Foundation 92 who started regular football sessions for the residents of Salford Foyer.
H had a real interest in football and previously played for a grassroots team. However, he dropped out of football due to his lifestyle, so attended the sessions. The sessions were split 75% activity / 25% life skills and leadership. Given H’s interest in football and the requirement that he must live independently from the age of 18, he decided that he wanted to play again. He always wanted to learn more about how to budget and take the first steps to gain his own accommodation with the support of these sessions.
Despite H’s previous disengagement from activity, he has demonstrated commitment to improving his ability to lead a positive lifestyle, which has been achieved through specialist mentoring and the advice, guidance and support provided through this programme.
He is now taking positive steps towards developing a more positive and sustained lifestyle and reports that he now feels happier and more in control of his future.