We have now delivered our Community Cohesion strand, which covers Tower Above, Project ADDER and Divert, for over one year and during this time the team has made a huge impact on the lives of young people across Blackpool. We caught up with Brett, Community Cohesion Manager, to see how the last year has been.
How has the last year been?
The pandemic has provided a challenge for everyone and has meant that programmes and staff have had to adapt their delivery in order to continue supporting people. Due to the targeted and one-to-one nature of the work within Community Cohesion, we have been one of the luckier teams as government guidelines have allowed us to continue with our normal delivery. However, some of our sessions moved online when young people were isolating, or parents didn’t feel comfortable leaving the house during periods of lockdown.
The pandemic has allowed us to improve our knowledge of online delivery and provided us with new ways to engage with people, most notably via games consoles such as XBOX and PlayStation where staff can now deliver mentoring sessions online whilst playing sports-based games such as FIFA against participants.
What has been your proudest moment so far?
The proudest part of my role is seeing how passionate the team are about supporting their participants. They are genuinely invested in improving lives and achieving positive outcomes for those they work with. Staff are visibly excited and proud when a young person or an adult achieves one of their goals and/or access positive pathways. For example, we have had participants join grassroots football clubs, gain employment and complete qualifications.
Recently, some of our young people who have completed the Tower Above programme were rewarded for their hard work and commitment and taken to their first ever Blackpool FC game by members of the team. The smiles on their faces and the feedback we got from parents was fantastic and further highlights the amazing work the team and wider Trust do, connecting people with the club and providing them with positive experiences and memories for life. Some of our participants and their families have now purchased season tickets as a result of their affiliation with the Trust and how much they have enjoyed working with us.
How has Cohesion expanded?
The Community Cohesion strand has expanded greatly over the year, despite a global pandemic, we have employed more staff within the team and added more programmes to our portfolio. We now have a wide range of programmes that support both young people and adults with a key focus on crime prevention and reduction (see previous page).
Our most recent venture, Project ADDER, has allowed us to work alongside a variety of partners involved in the town-wide project, to play our part in supporting people at risk of drug related deaths. This has allowed us to add another level of expertise within the team by employing specialist staff with an experience of working within this field and strengthening the knowledge and experience across the Community Cohesion team.
What are your aims for the future?
We aim to continue delivering our programmes to a high standard, ensuring that we can evidence the great work that is taking place, therefore sustaining the work long term. One of our main aims across all of the Cohesion programmes is to support people to access positive pathways, rather than the programme coming to an end with no next steps or plan in place for the individual. We are really lucky at the Trust to have so many wonderful programmes/exit routes to support people to transition into i.e. Traineeship, Kicks, Get Set 2 Go, BTEC, Degree and NCS, to name a few.
By engaging with one or more of these, participants can continue to put into practice the positive changes they have made on our programmes. We have also formed some great links with external community providers such as local grassroots clubs, youth clubs and volunteering groups, where we have then been able to facilitate introductions for our participants to join/attend. In the future, we hope to see more of this taking place with more people completing our programmes, sustaining a positive change in their behaviour and going on to access other provision.
I would like to thank all of the wonderful partners that we work alongside who have supported myself, the team and all of the participants we’ve worked with. As a team, we place great emphasis on partnership working and by working in this way we have been able to achieve some fantastic outcomes for a variety of young people and adults across the range of programmes we deliver.
Finally, a huge thankyou to my amazing team who make a difference to the lives of young people and adults in Blackpool on a daily basis. Without their hard work and professionalism, the programmes would not be as successful as they have been so far. Long may this brilliant work continue!
Quotes from our community who have benefited from community cohesion provision:
“He’s like a different boy. I don’t know what you have said to him, but it seems to have really worked” – Tower Above parent
“It has given X life choices and prepared him for making the right choices throughout his life” – School SENCO.
“X has maintained making the right choices and will finish the year on a positive note – School SENCO.
“He can actually have a conversation with adults now which he couldn’t really do before. It’s made him more sociable, kinder and he’s standing up to his issues and dealing with them” – Tower Above parent
“Thank you so much for helping me get homed, I really appreciate it. I’m really interested in doing some boxing in the future” – DIVERT participant
“I have woke up excited instead of feeling annoyed and excited” – Tower Above young person