London Tigers is a semi-professional football club, a cricket club in the County Cricket League, and an award winning charity. Chief Executive, Mesba Ahmed, spoke to us about how their Southall Bangladeshi Families engagement project is improving wellbeing.
“London Tigers started to run community projects to provide formative pathways for children and young people from Black and Minority Ethnic, including people from South Asian, and Arabic speaking backgrounds in Westminster. We’ve come a long way and now we have a 19 acre sports complex where we host a huge variety of projects to engage people in Southall and help them grow in confidence in the community.
The Southall Bangladeshi Families engagement project, funded by People’s Health Trust, works with newly arrived Bangladeshi families. Our overall aim is to help people achieve a sense of belonging in our park and community by helping them integrate with staff and other projects and, supporting them to become volunteers. We hope that the people who engage with our projects will stick around and continue working on the wider programme and taking ownership of different events and contributing to different committees.
When the families first joined the project, the main issues impacting them was a lack of confidence, isolation and loneliness. Language barriers also play a very big role. Families being from low-income households also means many of them can’t afford to take part in activities elsewhere, but the other initial barriers stop them joining other groups anyway.
We’ve used some of the Trust funding to hire someone who speaks the same language as the participants so they feel comfortable, and are able to engage and say what they want to take part in. We’ve also created a steering group, and through that they decide on days and times they want to take part and what activities we should put on.
This all gives participants a greater sense of control and a greater sense of confidence. We’re already seeing the impacts of young people becoming sports coaches, adults volunteering in different areas and sitting on committees. Some of the families also got involved in the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, organising, baking food, and taking part in performances.
The impact on mental and physical health of being involved in a community project is absolutely huge. We work with people from lots of different countries but even people from the same country may speak five different languages. Through sport people can share the same passion and not need to communicate, but once that first barrier is broken down people can form greater connections and start to communicate.
What we’ve created here is really positive and everyone feels part of it. We’re not just the London Tigers Football Club or Cricket Club, we’re a community. So once people are involved, they feel more confident knowing the people that live around them, they feel safer walking around, they feel more able to apply for jobs or get involved in opportunities. Overall, this all benefits health.
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