Football fever may have died down since summer’s World Cup, but for some of the Group's young customers in east London, the footy fun has lasted all summer long thanks to a World Cup-themed programme of events lead by our Community Investment Team.
Alice Webster, the Group’s Community Investment Services Manager North, explains:
Many of our residents at Lewis Place in Hackney find it difficult to make ends meet. In recent years, the ‘E8’ area has seen a lot of antisocial behaviour from young people, in particular to do with gun and knife crime.
Clarion Housing also have a large number of properties nearby, so we decided to work together to provide a support outreach service to these communities.
Our flagship event for how we wanted to help the communities living here was the five-a-side E8 World Cup for children of all ages from the estate and surrounding properties.
The E8 World Cup took place once a week throughout August, with pre-tournament coaching available to the kids for a month beforehand. Its objectives included:
Help the community come together and access the Group’s services and support
Offer a diversion for young people here away from antisocial, gang-led behaviour toward a popular team sport where they could make new friends
Provide people here with a ‘safe space’ for their children to access food and other support
Raise the profile of Lewis Place and its community centre, where we run a significant number of activities for residents
Send out a message to other communities that the community here is cohesive and the estate is being used positively, to discourage antisocial behaviour from other areas
Offer a way for us to consult with the people who live here about what help they need from us on an ongoing basis
Strengthen our collaborative community activities with housing partners
Participants ranged in age from 3-18, and included residents from Peabody, Hackney Homes and Family Mosaic, as well as Southern Housing Group. An average of 30 children took part each week, with soft play and games options for younger siblings.
Both the children and their parents were involved in a variety of ways, from helping set up and take down the decorations for each match, to helping referee games, prepare and serve food and drinks, and helping with research into what support the E8 community is most in need of.
We wanted to capitalise on World Cup fever, and use this event as a springboard for ongoing support beyond the summer months. We provided the kids with healthy snacks, refreshments and lunch during each session, which helped us address the issue of ‘holiday hunger’ for families who struggle to provide their kids with enough healthy food during the summer months.
We used the services of local parent-led community organisation Stars n Stripes to deliver the programme, who already run a range of activities for Lewis Place residents. In addition, our promotional material was deliberately gender-neutral to encourage both girls and boys to sign up.
Our coaches and event staff all had educational backgrounds and they had an excellent rapport with the kids.
All participants received medals, with trophies for the finalists. At the end of the month, feedback from parents and kids was unanimously positive. One parent commented: “It’s hard to find something that caters for different ages like this does; it’s really good.”
The E8 World Cup highlighted how helpful it is for families in communities such as Lewis Place to have affordable and accessible support for children of all ages. Following the month of football fever, those who took part were keen to continue to have options such as kids’ clubs, sport and/or food-related activities, and events where their children could make new friends and learn and play together.
The E8 World Cup taught us a lot. People really value children’s activities, and even if they can’t afford much, they’re keen to contribute what they can, such as in the form of helping. The football was fun, but what matters most to parents is that their children have fun and make friends.
It’s important to have a presence at schemes like Lewis Place, and to get to know our customers so we can support them in the most impactful and meaningful ways to them, and so we can learn more about what’s most important to them.