Community cohesion promoted through physical activity
- Portfolio total project costs: £3,538,220
- Total funding received from BIG: £3,538,220
- Total number of beneficiaries: 7679
The Healthy Conversations portfolio provided activities for young people at 78 services (mainly foyer accommodation) across England.
Residents at Hereford Foyer (who were all young men), initially decided to focus a Health Action project on developing a Hereford ghost tour. However this idea lost steam at the research stage as the group were keen to do something more practical. A delivery partner, Art 360, identified an opportunity to build a raft for the river carnival and discussed this with the group who were keen to participate:
“They totally embraced that, they decided how it would work. There were two lads particularly who both wanted to take a lead…they are both very charismatic, natural leaders and wanted to get people to join in. They all joined in and some can be quite hard to engage. Their visitors came along as well. It engaged people we probably wouldn’t have been able to engage…they wanted to join in rather than having to…they were so proud floating down the river, that was their boat” (Delivery staff, Hereford).
Participant/community impacts and sustainability
The portfolio reported good outcomes in relation to the physical activity theme. In terms of the portfolio’s change indicators, a key aim for the portfolio was to enable young people to identify and chose healthy lifestyle goals that incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. The portfolio supported 5,017 participants to set individual physical activity goals, such as increasing their level of walking or cycling Another change indicator set by the portfolio was for young people to overcome challenges and sustain commitment to healthy lifestyles by making progress towards physical activity. 3,033 participants progressed their physical activity goals through the portfolio
The Hereford Foyer project gave participants the opportunity to develop work-related skills such as team working, product planning and carpentry. (All the participants were young men below the age of 30). Focusing the project on physical activities helped the young men bond and develop a sense of belonging to their local community. This was very important in helping to break down perceived negative barriers between the residents and the public, and helped the participants to re-engage with members of their local community in a positive and informal way:
“The benefit of a project like this is the way it brings people together, everyone is really polite and respectful when they visit….riding a raft down a river forms a really good bond, so whatever happens they have that common bond that brings them together” (Delivery staff, Hereford).
Channelling the Hereford Foyer project through a physical activity which was valued by participants also helped them achieve soft outcomes around developing routines and commitment.
Participants also helped to promote the Health Action project to the local community and took photos which were featured in the local press and on the river carnival facebook page:
“They wanted to show it off, they made the main cover photos of the whole day” (Delivery staff, Hereford).
“There were loads of other organisations at the river carnival. They were competitors in their own right….they were very respectful of not using bad language if children were around. Members of the public were stopping them and asking them questions about it and you could see that they were glowing, they felt really important, it was really positive” (Delivery staff, Leominster).
The Hereford Foyer project fostered a high degree of commitment amongst participants, who are now keen to repeat the exercise through a project to build go-karts. Staff built a six week project on this theme into their next delivery plan.
→Further details and references in the Wellbeing 2 evaluation.