Thursday, October 26, 2006

Howdenshire Forward Young People and Sport Initiative

Howdenshire Forward Young People and Sport Initiative

The following is a discussion document providing some thoughts, ideas, opinions, assumptions and comments designed to give a direction on which the Howdenshire Forward 'Young People and Sport Initiative' can proceed forward. It is by no means set in stone, 100% right or representative of but a few people’s ideas. There is heavy emphasis on listening, consultation and consent without which any project of this nature cannot succeed.

Paul Robinson

(Young People and Sport Initiative)

Young People and Sport was selected as a lead priority (‘initiative’) to enable Howdenshire Forward to move ahead. It should be acknowledged that this could give Howdenshire Forward the opportunity for somewhat of a fresh start, it is in tune with what people are telling us, as issues concerning young people have been highlighted in many surveys and Parish Plans conducted in Howdenshire. This initiative is a positive project and is something for which we can expect to gain significant and widespread community support, relatively quick indications of success and the capacity to really impact on the quality of life of the two distinct groups of beneficiaries.

The Howdenshire Forward ‘area of impact’ has been defined as the catchment area of Howden School; this should not be completely inclusive or exclusive but viewed in general terms. Any ‘Young People’ initiative could logically have Howden School at the hub, taking into account the children attending not just Howden School but also the feeder primary schools. Sport is played across the area with many clubs and different facilities. The sports facilities already at the Howden School could well be utilised as part of any initiative, and may well become a focus for some sporting activities.

In the next few years the whole country is going to feel the impact of the Olympic games and Yorkshire Forward are working with all Local Authorities to get the maximum out of this. It means of course that we will be all much more aware of sport, particularly amongst young people, and we therefore need to be ready for what is likely to be increased uptake before and after the Games take place. This initiative would fit well into this context.

Initially Howdenshire Forward needs to look at building the partnerships essential to the make the initiative successful. Howdenshire Forward can be the lead partner but only with the consent of those other partners, this must be carefully done so as not to isolate or alienate the very organisations needed to ensure success. The partners should then subsequently have a large part of the project creation, design and most importantly the implementation. This action may well be the key function that determines the success or failure of the project.

The overall project must be sustainable with Howdenshire Forward having an exit strategy and timetable.

Young people and sport are generally associated with each other and the two can be grouped together, but not exclusively so, as it may be that there are significant groups of young people, especially amongst girls, not interested in sport.

It is widely accepted that participation in sport has many advantages for young people, from promoting good health to learning respect and life’s lessons, from team building to learning how to win and how to lose. Sport is also seen as an alternative to, drink, drugs and crime amongst young people.

It is also accepted that young people like to be creative, like to perform and be recognised for their achievements – this can be through music, drama or other artistic avenues. These are areas that can be explored and prospective partners identified and consulted.

The ‘Young People and Sport’ initiative

The ‘Young People and Sport’ initiative may well encompass a number of individual projects, and must be determined and shaped by the young people, and the participants and supporters of sport – Not Howdenshire Forward. The role of Howdenshire Forward would be to lead the initiative, undertake/oversee the consultative process, facilitate the collaboration and sharing of information required, provide help and training as the need arises, contribute to the overall design and ensure that the funding is acquired. Howdenshire Forward may well have a significant role in the delivery, and the monitoring and evaluation afterwards, but this should not be open ended.


Definition of ‘Young People’

Howdenshire Forward’s definition of ‘Young People’is those below 18 years. It may then be that this is broken down into two groups those from birth to the end of primary school age and those of secondary school age up to 18. The advantages of these two groups are:

The two groups fit very well with the schools, which may well be the key partners.

The two groups may require different levels of supervision.

The two groups have different levels of maturity and therefore different interests.

The younger group may well concentrate on more local activities with local nurseries and primary schools, the older group may be more independent and require more complex challenges which may include activities necessitating transport, but revolving around Howden School.

The younger group are a natural feeder group for the senior group.

Consultation with Young People

We must consult the young people of our communities and the schools are best placed to facilitate this. Howden School pupils, members of existing Youth organisations operating within the catchment area of Howden School, the feeder primary schools, scouts, Air cadets, Army cadets, the Youth Café, sports clubs and others must be consulted as a first step. We must determine what the young people want, what motivates them, what doesn't etc. Any survey questions or research needs to be well thought through to get under the skin of what they are really thinking and presented to them in a format that is fun.

There are numerous ways of conducting this, but the survey of the youth carried out at Howden School, where some 623 young people were consulted, could well be treated as a benchmark survey, with other consultation exercise results from other groups and organisations layered on top as they become available. This may well include a dedicated interactive website, including blogs, and the ability for the young people to be consulted by text.

Any project must give young people a sense of belonging, a feeling of empowerment, and part of the decision making process. It must be made easy for them to communicate with Howdenshire Forward, at their level not ours. A sense of ownership of any project must be instilled in the young people – (if they have a sense of ownership they are more likely to take care of it) and individual projects must appear to be bottom up rather than top down.
By definition the people already attending or part of youth organisations and other groups have already made a decision to do something positive. Those people who perhaps are not involved and possibly disenfranchised with conventional clubs and even school itself must not be excluded.

It must be acknowledged that a significant number of young people will just want to ‘hang around’ at a place where they can feel comfortable, sheltered and secure, with perhaps a minimum of supervision. If this is the case than this must be accommodated.

It must also be recognised that there is a connection between gatherings of young people and the consumption of alcohol. This is something that is very difficult to eradicate although should be discouraged as much as possible, and is not to be condoned. Though perhaps it is preferable for young people to drink in places where the communities are prepared to tolerate this rather than where those young people would choose to, where they can cause nuisance, intimidation and disruption.


Sport by definition can be very wide ranging from ball games to motor sport, from team activities to individual efforts and includes both participants and supporters. Initially a simple inventory of sports teams operating in the Howdenshire area and facilities available could be compiled. Howdenshire Forward would be in a position to contact and consult all the teams to determine the future direction(s) and identify key people who would then be part of the decision-making and dissemination processes.

Collaboration between teams in the same community

There are many individuals or small groups that put a great deal of their own time and money into sport, especially for young people in Howdenshire. It appears that many of these individuals or small groups operate in isolation to others. These individuals or groups coming together could obtain significant advantages particular in sharing of resources and joint funding activities, especially if facilities can be shared. If Howdenshire Forward can help to facilitate this then our crucial partners will emerge.

There are organisations like the Gilberdyke and District Leisure Association (GDLA) that have brought together different sports under one umbrella organisation. A committee consisting of interested individuals, as well as members of the various sports teams and groups form the GDLA. The land on which the GDLA has numerous pitches, a bowling green, as well as a pavilion incorporating changing rooms was purchased and is owned by Gilberdyke Parish Council for which a peppercorn rent is levied. Parish Council funding has been provided annually for individual sports as well as the GDLA itself to help with the running costs of the facilities. The Parish Council is moving away from funding individual sports but instead placing those funds at the disposal of the GDLA, the committee will then prioritise and decide which sports should be funded and to what amount. This is an example of how sporting groups can come together to make decisions specific to sport, based on experience and knowledge, rather than the Parish Council making decisions with little or no relevant knowledge. This concept is possibly something that can be developed and adapted to enable Howdenshire Forward to fund sporting activities across the target area whilst ensuring that the decision making process is devolved to the local level.

Conversely the ‘Ashes’ playing fields in Howden appears to be under used. Howden Amateurs FC use the ' facilities' and are a Premier County League Club however the poor facilities (the Pavilion) prevent the team from progressing further. A small grant from the football foundation was obtained for new posts, which have been installed. Perhaps the club could be expanded to involve young people and a junior team developed, although the lack of space may be a constraint. The Howden Town Juniors could not be accommodated on the ‘Ashes’ and obtained a new pitch near the school on land that is rented from the East Riding of Yorkshire Council. Cricket has recently returned to play on the ‘Ashes’ however the poor facilities (the pavilion) are again a constraint. The Ashes Playing Field sub-committee are at the present time applying for grants to rebuild/refurbish the pavilion and also develop the existing tennis courts into a multi purpose all weather area. The Town Council provides an annual grant to the ‘Ashes’ and is also holding commuted sums money earmarked for the above projects.

It appears that the sports organisations/groups in Howden operate in relative isolation to each other. It may be that these groups could be brought together to fully utilise the existing facilities in the town, including the school, The ‘Ashes’, and the football pitches rented from the council, etc. New shared facilities could then be developed in the future as the need is identified.

There are facilities in a number of other villages within the target area, which need to be encouraged to be part of the initiative. Ideas that have proved to be successful can then be shared, altered and developed if required.

Adult teams without junior sections

There are sports teams, which cater only for adults and do not have a junior section and vice versa. The positive benefits of having junior teams attached to adult teams are numerous and should be encouraged to provide mentoring for the young people, and to help those teams become sustainable in the long term as the young players mature.

There appears to be many children who do not take part in organised sports, but participate in spontaneous sporting activities where a group will put their jumpers on piles to form goals before stating to play football. This is important, as only thing required for this is an open space. The same could be said for a flat tarmac area, not designed for anything specifically but used for skate boarding or BMX riding.

Supporters Clubs

There is also the issue of people who support teams rather than play. It may be that supporters clubs affiliated to professional teams, such as Hull City, Leeds Utd, Goole Town, Hull FC, Hull Ice Hockey and others, can become established or existing groups developed. Again these organisations would be crucial partners.

No comments: