Tom Hall writes about the GoSketch programme which bring groups of young people together through sporting initiatives to build their confidence and express themselves as well as exposing them to potential career opportunities they may not have considered.
The Euro final is within touching distance, as are the Wimbledon finals and the Tokyo Olympics are now just around the corner. In the context of everything that’s happened over the last 18 months this Summer of Sport is a welcome relief!
An action-packed summer is not only a great opportunity for the nation to come together and unite, it’s also going to encourage many of us to get back out and pick up that racket, kick that ball or dust off those trainers. We’re planning our own “GoSketch Summer of Sport” to encourage that reaction… and it’s why we’re linking up with some amazing partners from within and beyond the social housing sector to help us along the way.
Our GoSketch project combines sport and creativity to better engage young people, many of whom have a reason or barrier that stops them playing sport, uniting as a team, or accessing the wider physical and wellbeing benefits these sorts of activities can realise. We bring groups of young people together, encouraging them to express themselves on the pitch and to work together to create a new team identity. Every project completes with those involved viewing physical activity in a new way – and with us presenting them with their own kit (bats, balls, rackets, clubs and caps, t-shirts or beanies) that give them every reason to keep connected and remain active.
It’s not just about sport. We want young people to see the myriad of careers that can be accessed in the sporting and creative sectors – both growth industries offering exciting and accessible roles and opportunities. We also want our “GoSketchers” to walk away with new skills, confidence and experience that can be used in school, the community and the workplace. It’s also about giving young people that reason to reconnect after all the disruptions caused by the pandemic. We’re pleased that so many partners share our ambitions and are committed to helping us benefit as many people as we can across the country.
With England no in the Euro 2021 final, we’re looking forward to a range of GoSketch football projects. Our long-standing partnership with The FA has seen hundreds of young people from across Brent get into football and use the incredible history of England and Wembley to inspire their own creativity! Network Homes are currently recruiting a group of residents to join the programme who will develop their sporting and creative skills, while coming together as a group and increasing access to the organisation’s wider support.
A little further East, over in Essex, we’ve been supported by Clarion Housing to provide a focused summer sporting programme to residents of Orchard Village. We’re bringing in a range of ‘tournament favourites’ to help us; with West Ham United Foundation, Essex Cricket Foundation, The LTA, BaseballSoftballUk and the Golf Foundation all looking to engage local residents through inspirational sporting opportunities. In response to the Covid pandemic we want young people to safely get back outside, get active and reconnect with their friends. More than anything we want to see smiles on faces as they plan and have fun! By bringing in so many different sporting partners we hope this programme acts as a catalyst for further sporting delivery beyond autumn 2021.
While down on the South Coast we’re developing a tennis programme with Southern Housing. With The LTA we’ll recruit and train local residents to become tennis facilitators – who, with the support of qualified coaches, will deliver a GoSketch Tennis programme to local children. They’ll all receive their own rackets and t-shirts at the end of the project to encourage them to keep playing. We’re also connecting with the local high school and leisure centre to maximise the playing opportunities for participants, and to offer further coaching opportunities to our now experienced resident tennis facilitators!
There’s more GoSketch programmes in the pipeline that we’ll look to deliver in partnership with the social housing sector; educational engagement in Manchester with Lancashire Cricket, inspiring creativity in the Westcountry, engaging communities in Yorkshire. As with the others mentioned above, all will have a focus that reflects local insight and need, but all will be connected by an underlying belief that positive social, educational and community outcomes can be realised when partners collaborate, share intelligence and work towards a common goal.