We at the new welfare have come together to help improve the fitness and well being specially of disadvantaged youngsters in our area. We wish to do this by establishing a new gymnasium for the practice of boxing, martial arts and general fitness training. We have purchased an extremely dilapidated former church hall which has remained empty for over 25 years. The facility will be run by volunteers, several being qualified sports coaches.
WHY THE PROJECT IS NEEDED
Sadly and unfortunately, 25% of young people in the Hartlepool area are obese (Hartlepool and Stockton on Tees Clinical Commisioning Group (CCG) figures). This amounts to several thousand youngsters in our town. As regards to adults the picture is almost as bleak, Hartlepool has significantly lower life expectancy rates than the national average, with males expected to live until they are 75 and females, 79. Coupled with this is the fact hartlepool is one of the most deprived towns in England, ranking 23rd out of 330 (index of multiple deprivation statistics supplied by government). Hartlepool also has some of the highest smoking and alcohol consumption rates in the country. The CCG s joint strategic needs assessment identifies cardio vascular disease, smoking and alcohol related illness amongst the main health and well being priorities for tackling our area. Hartlepool also has extremely high unemployment levels, meaning many families and individuals are unable to pay for access to sport facilities. Yet sport undertaken on a regular basis with guidance on healthy eating and healthy lifestyles, can help substantially to address much of the above. Particularly in young people, if we can instill the value of taking up sports at an early age we hope this is practiced by them for many years to come. Overall the burden of risk to population health locally is higher than the national England average.
IMPACT ON SPORT
We hope to have a substantial impact on sport locally. The project is the culmination of over two years of work in assembling a team of dedicated trustees to contribute their own funding for the purchase of the premises for this purpose. We hope to coach at least 85 young people in the first year and over 50 adults in our chosen sports, our hope is that we can "up skill", particularly, a number of young people to be able to compete at possibly national level. However our facilities are open to anyone, of any age, male or female, simply to take part in sport without any pressure on them to have to compete. By having a centre close to all major bus routes in Hartlepool, by keeping charges low and fixed for 3 years, we hope to have a bigger impact than might ordinarily be the case. We have over ten thousand young people living in Hartlepool and an employment rate twice the national average, with youth unemployment at one stage the highest in the country. As a consequence there are very many people with time on their hands with the potential to get actively involved in sport. Clearly we can not engage everyone but we have the potential to assist many.
We are very much a grassroots group which came together through a love of sport and our wish to help as many people as possible to take part in it. Everyone of us engaged on the project lives locally, from trustees to coaches to cleaners. This will continue to be the case in the future, as we encourage people from across Hartlepool to take part both as volunteers and in the sporting activities. The CIO constitution we have adopted is the charity commissions association model, which allows voting by members other than just charity trustees. This enables a much broader number of people to have a say on important decisions regarding the charity, as opposed to a small group of trustees. We have already nine signed up and we will also target local area residents (who do not need to be experienced in sport or management committee procedures as we will provide training) and people with particular skills eg in publicity, youth work and administration, to take part. The building we have taken over has been a blight on the local community for many many years and residents have given their full support to it being refurbished and brought back into use, especially for young people. Further, young users will be able to contribute at board meetings, and become trustees if they wish, though often they prefer less formal settings to air their views. If this is the case we will convene casual youth user group meeting to elicit opinions. It is our intention to invite our local sports development team and the integrated youth service (both Hartlepool borough council) along with local ward councillors to attend and advise at board meetings. Such contacts will enable us to promote the project and attract new users but also ensure we continue to involve local people and obtain feedback on how we are operating and what might need to be changed. We are particularly concerned to involve local residents in the running of the project through the training we have been offered in management committee procedures. Equally we welcome local people who use the actual sports facilities or whom are new to us, to become coaches and we will facilitate this process. This upskilling of people hopefully will give them a sense of ownership in the project and a commitment to stay with us at least for a reasonable amount of time helping provide a stable service. In terms of ensuring as many people as possible continue to use the project we have kept charges very low. This also has to be set in the context of Hartlepool being one of the most deprived parts of the country, with many individuals/families having reduced disposable income.
We are pleased to report that the new sports facility will be fully self sustaining in terms of operating costs. This is because the project will be run entirely by volunteers , from trustees to administrators, from coaches to cleaners. We will thus not be engaging either staff or paid sessional workers, which makes for substantial savings on running costs. We also own the property not only will we thus not have to pay rent but this also guarantees our future. This is an exciting time for us and we have the energy and commitment to take forward the project and the commitment of many people to do so. We really do emphasise the really high levels of deprivation in our town which has over the years seen many different government initiatives (eg new deal for communities, city challenge, the urban programme, the Teesside development corporation and the single regeneration budget) to tackle disadvantage locally. Through sport we are prepared to face such problems head on.