As part of its offer to improve the lives of some of the county’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, the Herts Sports Partnership (HSP) has launched its support package for community groups and other organisations wishing to deliver programmes for young people during the forthcoming school holiday period.
HSP – based at the University of Hertfordshire – has developed a support package, in partnership with national charity StreetGames UK, in response to a growing body of research on the triple inequalities of holiday hunger, isolation and inactivity faced by young people.
Coupled with this has been the disproportionate impact on the most disadvantaged communities, in terms of intellectual, physical and emotional development of the young people from those areas, as part of the current and ongoing Covid-19 arrangements.
According to a recent report published by the Hertfordshire Community Foundation (Hertfordshire Matters, June 2020) – just under 50,000 children in Hertfordshire are estimated to be living in poverty (once housing costs are taken into account).
The HSP package includes funding of up to £1,000 for eligible groups, from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund, and support around training, food – including access and advice on nutrition and healthy eating – sport and physical activity programmes, marketing and simple monitoring and evaluation to evidence the impact of their interventions.
In launching the programme, Deputy Director at HSP, Jane Shewring said:
“The forthcoming school holidays provides an obvious opportunity to address the growing inequality chasm facing young people in some of our most disadvantaged communities. We know from the research by StreetGames and others, that since the lockdown, 68% of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are doing less sport and physical activity than was the case before the restrictions were put in place.
“Moreover, the mental wellbeing of many of those young people has significantly deteriorated with this targeted group facing fears around the virus, trauma, social isolation and loneliness, stress and even bereavement.
“For many of these families, feelings of isolation, internal tensions, financial hardship and even violent relationships, have become part of everyday life which can be a miserable existence for the young people that we are trying to reach with this programme.
“The support package will hopefully help a raft of voluntary organisations – including some of our sports clubs – to deliver programmes for our young people over the intervening period, before the schools resume to something near normal in early September.
“We have seen over recent months just how many compassionate community connectors there are in Hertfordshire and we know from our insight that there is real willingness to help address some of the issues faced by young people over the summer holidays. However many community groups just need a leg-up in terms of support and signposting, as to where they may go to access relevant resources and funding.
“We are here to assist them in this process and would urge any such organisation to make contact with us, to see how we may help them in improving the lives of our young people this summer.”