Sport Birmingham has revealed how it is playing a key role in a new project which uses the power of sport to reduce over-representation of minority and ethnic groups in youth justice.
The £1.7million ‘Levelling the Playing Field’ (LtPF) project has been created following extensive research that shows black, Asian and minority ethnic children are less likely to take part in physical activity, and more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.
By partnering with expert strategic and delivery organisations across England and Wales, LtPF aims to strengthen local sporting opportunities that are accessible and enriching for 11,200 black, Asian and minority ethnic children who are at-risk of entering, or already involved in, the criminal justice system.
It will work with local people and organisations across four initial targets areas – London, the West Midlands, Gwent and South Yorkshire – with Sport Birmingham, one of 43 Active Partnerships across the country, acting as Local Strategic Partner for the project.
Tom McIntosh, Operations Director at Sport Birmingham, said: “We have seen the inequality gap is widening, in particular within BAME communities.
“We are seeing growing levels of civil unrest, tensions, anxiety, and pressure across all parts of the community and the adverse effects of children and young people’s mental wellbeing and individual development that this can have.”
Part of the problem, says Tom, is that children and young people are unsure what services or support they can access and where to find them, and that opportunities are not always accessible and come with multiple barriers including affordability, travel and appropriateness of the activity.
He believes there is a “need to create robust evidence and practice to inform policy development and longer-term intervention”.
Powered by a record £1million grant from the London Marathon Charitable Trust, LtPF is managed by the Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice in partnership with the Youth Justice Board. It comprises a multi-stakeholder partnership of over 60 organisations.
Tom added: “This programme seeks to identify effective means of reducing and removing barriers to young people accessing sport and physical activity.
"We believe the power of sport and physical activity has the potential to improve young people’s lives and wider social outcomes, and support the reduction of the number of children and young people entering the criminal justice system from diverse communities.
“We want to see positive change and steps taken to developing protective characteristics and ensure young people and communities benefit across our region.”
To find out more, visit the new project website at levellingtheplayingfield.org.