We spoke with Paul Knight (Project Manager) about this sports and activity social inclusion programme which has been running for nearly 20 years and is delivered by Catch22, a social business.
About Suffolk Positive Futures
“It is all about using the power of sport to engage with young people”
Suffolk Positive Futures is run by Catch22, a social business that designs and implements services to transform lives and communities. One of their areas of work is Youth Justice and to prevent children from entering the criminal justice system whilst connecting them to their community, SPF was created. The team consists of two practitioners, 15 sessional sports coaches, and volunteers from the community who all work together to keep young people safe, and engaged, and divert them if necessary.
SPF is mostly funded by the Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner and contributes towards the Suffolk Police and Crime Plan for Suffolk 2022-2025. Additional funding is provided by local authorities, schools, and funding bids into sporting bodies, housing associations, and local trusts.
Types of sessions
The project provides activities for 10-19-year-olds and runs open access sessions as well as referral-only sessions. Even though a majority of referrals are self-referrals, around 20% are formal and come from school groups, police, or youth offending teams. The formal referrals could simply be a referral into the open access sessions but at times, SPF will run a stand-alone session with school groups or pupil referral unit groups that form part of their alternative curriculum.
Positive and mental wellbeing
Not only does SPF focus on crime and anti-social behaviour but it has a huge impact on children's positive and mental well-being. If a young person has any welfare issues then the team is made aware and works on this through encouragement, praise, communication, and feedback. Having adult role models as well as learning better behaviours and attitudes from other young people who attend also has a positive benefit. In the likelihood that extra services are needed, then there is the option for the young person to be referred to other services.
What activities are run and where are they located?
- Fitness sessions
- Girls-only sessions
SPF has activities running across the whole of Suffolk which are listed below:
- West Suffolk has the Haverhill Football project and the Newmarket, Mildenhall & Brandon Boxing project.
- Ipswich has Chantry Street Cricket, Whitton Football project, Gainsborough/Nacton Boxing project, Maple Park, and Northgate High School Boxing project.
- In East Suffolk, they have the Leiston Football project, Leiston Boxing project, Kirkley & Pakefield Football project, Harbour Football project, and Whitton Street Cricket.
- In Babergh & Mid Suffolk, they have the Hadleigh Boxing project.
Additional projects include school holiday projects (Fit and Fed & Jumpers for Goalposts Project), and the delivery of Sports Leaders Qualifications. In 2022, 12 young people have completed the course and are now volunteering with Waveney FC, Lowestoft Swimming Club, and Suffolk Positive Futures.
Adapting to the pandemic
Adapting such a project to the pandemic was extremely difficult as face-to-face contact, conversations, and informal welfare with the children could no longer occur. However, by receiving some additional funding, the team was able to run a free equipment service whereby they delivered footballs and boxing pads to the children’s houses whilst checking in with them at the same time. SPF also ran some online sessions which the children could follow from the safety of their homes. Currently, the project is now fully operational as it was pre-pandemic.
Impact and Feedback
Over the last financial year, the project has worked with 1100 young people, received nearly 12,000 attendances, and 20 young people not in education have achieved a recognised qualification.
After running a survey for service users, SPF found that 100% of respondents said they would recommend Suffolk Positive Futures and Catch22 to others, 90% of young people felt safer in their neighbourhoods, and 92% who felt it was relevant to them had improved mental health after attending SPF.
“I have seen first-hand the positive impact that Suffolk Positive Futures can have on young people. The project offers young people a positive alternative to crime and violence, giving them positive role models and an opportunity to gain qualifications. It is a chance to set them on the right path to be a good citizen and make a positive contribution to Suffolk.” Tim Passmore – Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner
If you would like to learn more about Suffolk Positive Futures, email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more at https://www.catch-22.org.uk/services/suffolk-positive-futures-2/
This case study was compiled by Maysa Clam in 2022