Hat trick of wins for young people tackling loneliness

Tuesday 30 July 2019

Warrington Youth Club used a grant from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand to empower young people to tackle anti-social behaviour, overcome loneliness and improve their wellbeing through football.

Words by Leon Carroll, General Manager at Warrington Youth Club.

At Warrington Youth Club, we aim to inspire young people to gain, increase and develop their skills, and to make positive and healthy life choices.

That’s why, when anti-social behaviour began to increase in nearby Orford Park, just outside Warrington, we approached our service users directly and asked them to come up with ideas that could re-engage their peers.

The result was the co-design and creation of Friday night football league, initially funded through a £9,976 grant from the Building Connections Fund Youth strand. We’re now seeing fitter and healthier young people taking part in inclusive sports sessions, an engaged group of ‘Young Leaders’ helping others to overcome feelings of loneliness, and reduced levels anti-social behaviour making the park a nicer place to be – a real hat trick of wins!

Empowering young people

The first step to tackling loneliness and improving Orford Park involved bringing together our Youth Panel – an engaged group of eight young people who would together advocate for their peers.

They recognised that local young people felt like they had nothing to do to keep them active so they came up with “Everybody Plays” – an inclusive football league that would bring people together to get fit, build connections, and engage with the youth work we had on offer. 

But we also wanted our panel to grow as leaders so we engaged them with a volunteer development training programme that would help build their skills and confidence.

The results

Our Friday football league has been nothing short of a success. 

More than 200 young people have joined our inclusive football sessions, improving their physical fitness and building connections with their peers. This has also meant significantly reduced levels of anti-social behaviour as more young people are engaging with our services.

We’ve also seen a change in how our Youth Panel members speak about loneliness. Thanks to lots of group discussions, we’ve moved on from the bravado of loneliness “not being about them”. Instead, our panel recognise the problem and are committed to advocating for further changes to services and community spaces so its doesn’t affect their friends and peers.

Read more about Warrington Youth Club.

About the Building Connections Fund Youth strand

The Building Connections Fund Youth strand is a partnership between the Co-op Foundation and government. We’ve awarded 166 grants to enhance existing work to tackle youth loneliness, or support projects to work directly with young people to co-design improvements to spaces and services.

Read about current support available from the Co-op Foundation, or subscribe to our blog to find out first when new funds are announced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *