£500,000 investment in sport to enhance community engagement in North Solihull

(11th August 2006)

A £500,000 community sport initiative kicks off this summer to engage with local young people who live in the 1,000 acre Regenerating North Solihull area. 

This pioneering initiative has been specifically designed to target 10 – 24 year olds.The five-year programme, titled NS Fusion will hold weekly 'StreetSport' activities at four priority regeneration locations with higher levels of unemployment and crime. Throughout North Solihull, it will undertake a comprehensive 'HolidaySport' programme during school holidays, hold weekly activities at a range of indoor venues, and will put selected 'New Deal' long-term unemployed young people through an accredited sports coach training programme to become sporting role models and professional coaches in their local area.

NS Fusion is being funded by five principal sponsors; Sport England Community Investment Fund (National Lottery), Solihull Community Housing, Solihull Council, Jobcentre Plus, and the North Solihull Partnership (which is delivering the £1.8bn, 15-year Regenerating North Solihull programme). Additional support is being contributed by West Midlands Police, Groundwork Birmingham & Solihull and the Solihull Crime & Disorder Reduction Partnership.

Janet Bradbury, Chief Executive of the North Solihull Partnership comments: "The principal aim of our regeneration programme is to improve the lives of the 40,000 residents that live in North Solihull. We are well underway with the process of consulting with local people over the physical changes to the area, and two housing developments are already under construction, whilst plans for the first of 10 new primary schools have already been submitted.

"However, what we have learnt from our consultation work to date is that young people - who are crucial to the success of this 15 year regeneration programme - are not thoroughly engaging with the consultation process and shy away from giving their views on how they feel the area could change for the better.

"The groundbreaking NS Fusion initiative will give 10 – 24 year olds a number of different ways, week in – week out, to do sports activity which is designed to encourage young people to engage more with their local area. Furthermore, the New Deal programme – which is training long-term unemployed people to become professional sports coaches – will generate a number of home-grown role models, which is vital to raising aspirations and enabling people to access the wide range of employment opportunities that exist in and around North Solihull."

Six local residents from North Solihull, who were signed onto the Government's New Deal programme, which provides assistance to people who have been out of work for at least six months, have been hand-picked and awarded six-month, 24 hour a week training contracts to become professional sports coaches. All six trainees expressed a keen interest in sport whilst job seeking. Funding has been allocated for many more New Deal job seekers to be enrolled on NS Fusion's six-month sports coach training programme.

Janet Bradbury added: "We are delighted to support such a worthwhile community initiative. Already only weeks into the first training programme, the six New Deal trainees have become empowered by the experience of learning new skills and gaining professional qualifications in an area they are already passionate about. Sport is enabling these people to have belief in themselves and their achievements. Furthermore, the energy, personal drive and new skills they have gained will enable them to step out into their communities as real role models amongst their peers.

"In addition to the New Deal training scheme, the five-year NS Fusion programme has been designed to tackle anti-social behaviour, inform young people of the job opportunities available in sport, encourage more active community involvement and ensure North Solihull is a place where people who currently live outside of the area want to relocate to and own their own home.

"By committing such a significant level of investment to this community engagement initiative so early on in the 15-year Regenerating North Solihull programme, we want to deliver a clear message to the 40,000 residents who live in the area that the success of this project relies on their involvement. We are also fully aware that whilst significant capital expenditure on physical regeneration projects will obviously have the biggest impact on the look of the area, without raising local aspirations, we will not succeed in improving lives. Sport has therefore become a major backbone of our ongoing community engagement programme."

The North Solihull Partnership, a development consortium consisting of housebuilder Bellway Homes, investment-led regeneration company Inpartnership, Solihull Council and Registered Social Landlord Whitefriars Housing Group is responsible for the pioneering Regenerating North Solihull development programme.

North Solihull's three wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood, Kingshurst & Fordbridge, which make up the 1,000 acre regeneration zone, fall within the UK's top 10 per cent deprived neighbourhoods.

The £1.8bn investment project encompasses the creation of 10 new primary schools, five village centres, improving 12,500 homes and building 8,000 new properties. New bus routes and infrastructure improvements are also planned for the 15-year programme, along with the creation of safe, open public spaces. And, underpinning the entire regeneration programme is the desire to create better access to jobs, training and economic prosperity for every sector of the community.


For further info, please contact Alun Thorne, Core Marketing, 0121 643 8151.