Article written by Levelling the Playing Field
Levelling the Playing Field is set to benefit at-risk children in Coventry in a way that organisers of the project could never have foreseen.
First, a bit of background... LtPF is a project that achieves its impact through partnerships – we have over 80 partners across England and Wales, from National Steering Group Partners to Local Delivery Partners working directly with children in the community. All are focused on achieving our common goals.
A meeting for key LtPF partners in Coventry brought together figures from the local Youth Offending Services, the Violence Reduction Unit, West Midlands Police, Public Health, Think Active (the local Active Partnership) and StreetGames. They shared ideas about how to support vulnerable children in the city.
Bringing together those key stakeholders sparked a brainwave - could they create a single referral pathway between them that would help every at-risk young person in Coventry access an appropriate, safe environment that will improve their wellbeing?
Attendees of that meeting have now formed the core of the newly-created Diversionary Activity Group for the city, which meets once a month. Its goal is creating a streamlined pathway for young people to be referred to trusted local organisations delivering a broad range of diversionary activity (art, music, sport and more) which will be coordinated by Coventry Youth Partnership.
Luke Freer, Partnerships Manager at ThinkActive, chairs the group. He said: “Levelling the Playing Field has planted a seed which is going to have a really, really big impact locally. It would be great to see this idea spread further afield to benefit other regions in the same way.
“It has got all the key players around the table and everyone has become committed and engaged. It has grown organically and locally and it’s totally transparent. What we want now is to establish a process which all the leading statutory agencies are happy to sign up to.”
Recognising the potential of the group, Levelling the Playing Field is seeking to replicate the model in its other delivery areas of London, South Yorkshire and Gwent.
Caroline Ryder, Programme Manager - Youth Violence Prevention at West Midlands Police, has also been instrumental in setting up the Coventry group.
She said: “Once we knew that Levelling the Playing Field may come to Coventry, we put together a small group who could ensure we maximised the opportunity for our young black and minority ethnic residents to engage.
“We’ve had challenges along the way, particularly COVID-19 and all the restrictions around that, but what it did give us was time to think about all the other young people in Coventry and their need for support and diversion.
“Over time, the group has grown to incorporate thinking about diversionary activities other than sport. All young people should have opportunities to engage in something physically, mentally or spiritually rewarding depending on their unique interests.
“We are now working with the Coventry Youth Partnership to develop a route map into diversionary activities for all young people within Coventry using a single referral process.
“One of the biggest benefits has been professionals from different organisations getting to know each other. The best part for me has been connecting people and watching those relationships spark new and innovative ideas about how we work together to support young people with the issues they face.”
Rudro Sen, Levelling the Playing Field’s Project Leader, said: “We are so pleased to see the way this group has developed organically. It gets the key players together on a monthly basis to work towards our common goals.
“Such has been its success, that our aim is now to use this pioneering example in Coventry and replicate it across all four delivery areas of the project.”