We know from Sport England research that the number of children and young people meeting CMO guidelines during lockdown has dropped from 47% to just 19%. Furthermore, the pandemic has further driven stubborn trends in inequalities linked to digital deprivation, a lack of outdoor space and a nearly a third of job losses or furloughing happening to lower-paid jobs. The latest research by Kooth indicates that there has been a 34% rise in the demand for mental health support along with a 31% increase in levels of loneliness and 170% increase in feelings of sadness and depression amongst children and young people during this pandemic.
As a network, Active Partnerships play a key role in tackling inequalities and inactivity across England focusing on priority areas and groups. During the pandemic this role has become even more important and Active Partnerships have been working with partners to ensure they help reach the children and young people most in need, using activity to help improve their physical and mental wellbeing. .
Below are just a few examples of the work that has taken place across the Active Partnership network.
A large number of Active Partnerships proactively worked with local partners, schools and community providers to coordinate holiday hunger initiatives to help reach the most vulnerable young people. Holiday hunger initiatives provide opportunities for young people in some of the most deprived pockets of the country to come together to socialise, take part in high quality and enjoyable sport and physical activity and benefit from nutritious meals that they may not otherwise get during the long summer break.
There was some fantastic work being done across the country such as Herts Sports Partnership who through a new funding and support programme helped support local partners put on holiday programmes across the county funded through Sport Englands Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF). Rise, the sports partnership covering Northumberland and Tyne & Wear also working with StreetGames on the ‘Best Summer Ever’ campaign which enabled hundreds of at-risk young people to benefit from a holiday hunger initiative. Active Cumbria worked with Cumbria Youth Alliance and other partners who through funding from the TIF provided physical activity sessions for targeted young people in a variety of youth setting with a free packed lunch, this will also be based on StreetGames fit and fed model.
Active Surrey were another partnership who deliver Fit & Fed camps to children in Surrey who receive free school meals or live in an area of deprivation. Partnering with Surrey Outdoor Learning, London Irish Foundation and YMCA, 150 young people aged 7 – 11 were able to have a free week of different physical activities and a healthy hot lunch. The camps which were delivered in 3 different locations (each location delivered 2 weeks) were able to funded by a corporate partner from a cooperate partners and extra funding via TIF due the amount of demand.
The feedback from the camps has been very positive parents 'Thank you so much for giving my boys this opportunity they had an amazing time'.
Supporting vulnerable children
Other Active Partnerships also worked with different providers to support the most vulnerable families in their areas.
Leap worked with their two football foundations to run some summer holiday provision for low income families over the holidays, they also over the summer distributed 800 of our Boredom Buster packs to give vulnerable children something to do over the summer holidays. The packs were distributed via our family centres to ensure that they went to the right families. Read full case study here.
Active Gloucestershire responded quickly to local need and worked with local charity Play Gloucestershire to establish six ‘Play Nurture Bubbles’ across six venues in six districts and invite, via referrals, up to 90 venerable children and young people to join them for some therapeutics outdoor play. Read the full case study here.
Sport Birmingham used seed funding to support a few activity providers to deliver summer holiday provision. The funding was targeted in areas of the city that have highest levels of deprivation and therefore greatest need, and aimed to enable young people from families that couldn't afford full cost holiday provision to access for either free or a much reduced cost. Over 50 young people accessed the provision that we supported and participated in structured activity for a couple of weeks over the summer - for many it was their first structured activity for many months due to not attending school during lockdown.
County Durham Sport have supported local charity Adventure Access a not-for-profit water sports and adventure centre, to ensure if can continue to safely deliver activities to children with disabilities and families from disadvantaged areas, using funding from Sport Englands TIF.
Energise me are working with local organsation Breakout Youth to support young LGBTQ+ people after their Pride in Our Workforce research identifed that, we know that LGBTQ+ people are significantly less likely than heterosexual people to do enough exercise to maintain good health and that LGBTQ+ people’s general health is worse than that of heterosexual people. Using TIF funding, Get Active packs have been produced along with a Breakout Get Active Festival 2020! that has been co-designed with the young people involved. Energise will continue to work with Breakout Youth to embed physical activity into more of their sessions and interventions in the future. Read full case study here.
Supporting Young Carers
North Yorkshire Sport worked with a local organisation, Carers Resource, to support young carers ( yrs 8 and 10) over the summer after insight found that Young carers did less exercise a week than their peers, reported lower levels of wellbeing and reported lower resilience levels
The project has allowed these vulnerable young people to make new friendships and appreciate they are not the only ones facing challenges the same as themselves each day. Sport was successfully used t as a driver for change and the young carers have been challenged with how they think about their daily routines and the tools that can help them get active. At the request of the participants the project is to continue until the end of the year. Read the full case study here.
North Yorkshire also recognised that the young people they were working with as part of their ‘Achieve Programme’ who already struggled socially, with home life, with mental health, were going to experience isolation for themselves so successfully moved the programme on line. The programme is designed to support young people facing disadvantage and aims to develop and improve their resilience, perseverance and persistence, social, physical and emotional wellbeing and self-confidence and self-esteem. The programmes is led by an Athlete Mentor who is experience to engage, motivate and inspire young people to Achieve their best. The athlete draws on comparisons from their sporting career to support young people in developing key skills.
Charlie Crane, Partnership Manager said:
“The research into the activity levels of children and young people during lockdown is extremely worrying. Prior to Covid-19, we were starting to see the activity levels of children and young people increasing however the pandemic has further exacerbated the stubborn trends in inequalities and we need to prioritise supporting the most vulnerable children and young people this summer. Our Opening Schools Facilities work funded by Sport England and the Department for Education has highlighted the valuable role schools can play in providing a safe and known ‘hub’ for holiday provision and we hope through our local work that a real difference can be made to helping young people be more active and feel connected socially again this summer”
Photo from Active Gloucestershire's ‘Play Nurture Bubbles’ case study.