A project in Hull is bringing residents together to make changes in their local area and connect the community.
The Local People project in Hull is supported by the Youth Sport Trust and focuses on two neighbourhoods – Southcoates East and Marfleet, areas of East Hull which are experiencing some of the highest levels of disadvantage nationally.
The communities there are working to make the changes they want to see a reality. Residents have a history of taking positive action across their neighbourhood and through the Local People Project, they are beginning to take control over what happens in their local area and to influence the decisions that affect their lives.
Led by a Steering Group, the project focuses on three key areas of change: reducing isolation in the community, bringing families together and improving health and wellbeing.
Emma Mackenzie-Hogg, regional Development Manager for the Youth Sport Trust (YST) explains that mental health, particularly for men, is an emerging focus for the project.
She said: “There are high rates of male suicide in the Yorkshire and Humber region. We recognised that we didn’t have a lot of men engaged with the project or on the Steering Group and knew this was something we could build on to give local men a voice and have a positive impact in this area.
“We partnered with local organisations as part of the Time to Talk national campaign and held a session which only 10 men came along to. We realised that we can’t just expect men to turn up to an activity we put on, we need to go where they are, in a context they are familiar with to help better enhance what they want. With that in mind, we are connecting with other community groups including the local rugby teams in the area to learn from them. We’re also pursuing links with local campaigns such as #TalkSuicide and Speak Up to play our part in raising awareness and better support local men.
The Steering Group has been working on putting their ideas into action and now have a monthly Friday Family Fun day, a Time for You group for over 55s and many other activities. A Youth Board, with equal representation for young males, is being developed to ensure young people have a voice and that it feeds into the project’s health and wellbeing focus.
Ensuring that the voices of young people are heard has been a continuous priority for the project. The project always had a few young people on their Steering Group but they wanted to ensure that young people were more engaged.
Emma explained: “The children of our steering group members were keen to get involved in the meetings they were coming along to. So we set them up with notepads and allowed them to facilitate their own meeting. At first it was a bit chaotic but they were all really passionate and had some really great ideas they wanted to take forward.
A number of key focuses came out of the engagement. We had a nine year old who thought we could encourage more young people to volunteer with a passport to map their volunteering journey. Supported by another young person, they drafted a proposal for a small grant which they are now taking forward.
“Pupils from local secondary school Archbishop Sentamu Academy have taken part in the YST Youth Sport Award (YSA) which is helping to vary their experiences by volunteering within different settings to what they are used to. The YSA is a unique award scheme that puts health and wellbeing at the heart of developing young people, ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.”
Emma added: “We have helped provide a platform and the opportunity but the young people are the ones taking action. We are helping connect it to a wider agenda including with the youth council.”
Talking about the project, Debbie, resident and project member said: “It’s the best medication I have ever had, it’s wonderful. I have had some illnesses and I was stuck at home all the time. It was hard for me but through the project I feel like I have a purpose again and now have my community around me.
“The best part is encouraging others to get involved. I had one neighbour who I didn’t really know. As time has gone on, she has become involved and I have really got to know her – it’s great.”
Emma added: “There have always been great things happening in the neighbourhood but they have previously been in isolation. The Local People Project has allowed us to help connect and strengthen the community.
The Local People programme is a People’s Health Trust initiative which involves supporting residents across Great Britain to develop a shared vision for their community and take action on the issues that matter most to local people.
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