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Focus On Inclusion

PUBLISHED

11:00 3rd April 2013

A look at the work of the Wolves Community Trust

The Wolves Community Trust, in its current form, is now in its fifth year working alongside the club on a variety of initiatives in the areas of sport, health, inclusion, education and charitable donations in the form of Wolves Aid.

Between now and the end of the season, we will focus on each area of the Trust, and the work it does to benefit people in Wolverhampton and further afield.

Inclusion Officer James Lowbridge works within the Trust to bring together and create opportunities for young people through a variety of sporting projects.

He explains: "We focus on creating opportunities, encouraging innovation, promoting social inclusion and enhancing life skills in the communities within Wolverhampton and the surrounding area - particularly for those individuals who may not have access to sport or any other positive activities for whatever reason.

"Our projects are based on the belief that engagement through sport can result in far more than developing sporting skills - it can harness a sense of mutual respect and trust, widen horizons, raise aspirations and provide opportunities for people regardless of race, gender, age or creed."

The inclusion programmes target young people from areas of high deprivation, and aim to provide positive experiences in order to prevent individuals becoming involved with - or victims of - crime or anti-social behaviour.

Physical Education graduate James, who took up his current role last summer, believes it is vital that the power and influence of Wolves, and football in general, is used in such a positive way.

"Clubs such as Wolves play a huge part in bringing diverse communities together," he says. "A vital part of our work is supporting local communities, and there is a strong emphasis on the people we work with giving back to their community, and making their local area a better place to live.

"Using the brand of Wolverhampton Wanderers, we educate young people about issues that may affect them, such as knife, gun and gang crime, drug and alcohol misuse and sexual health.

"We use the inclusive nature of football to allow anyone to participate. This can integrate the young people, build relationships and provide the opportunities to break down barriers."

Current programmes include Kickz, which, alongside football coaching sessions, aims to break down barriers between young people and the police, encouraging volunteering among youngsters and increase both playing and coaching opportunities.

East Park-based Energize provides coaching for 11 to 16 year-olds, and also targets those aged between 16 and 18, working in partnership with West Midlands Police to encourage the teenagers to be a positive influence in their community.

James, who says his own personal highlight of the job is helping to change the attitudes - and lives - of local young people, explains that those involved with the Community Trust thrive on the positive feedback they receive from youngsters.

"We have had cases where participants have come up to us and said  that without our sessions, they would be hanging around the streets causing trouble because of boredom.

"The majority of the young people who attend our sessions generally do not have access to funds to play football regularly, and they appreciate the sessions that we provide free of charge."

He adds: "All the inclusion coaches thrive to put on the best sessions as possible - we include everyone who turns up to the sessions, make them feel welcome and give them a sense of belonging."

Going forward, James believes that the work of the Community Trust will - and has to - continue to benefit young people in the local area, for the benefits of future generations, and for the city of Wolverhampton.

"We can see some of our young people as much as five nights a week and act as positive role models for them to look up to. Without our provision in the local community, we dread to think of the role models some of the young people would be looking up to, and what activities they would be taking part in.

He continues: "Wolverhampton is a city that is notorious for levels of anti-social behaviour and crime, therefore with our sessions, we give these young people a place to be and draw them away from being involved in the problems and issues that are about."
 

 
 

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