Greater Manchester projects to receive part of £52million raised by Sport Relief

By Sean-Paul Doran

After Manchester helped to raise over £52million for Sport Relief on Sunday, the focus is shifting to how people will benefit from the British public’s generosity.

A huge sum of money was raised this year through various events across the country and Manchester certainly played its part. Over 6,000 people pounded the pavements of the city on Sunday to help make 2012 a record-breaking year for Sport Relief.

Given the huge scale of the efforts made by Sport Relief there is a large and diverse range of causes to benefit from the latest round of funding, with a number of Manchester projects to reap the benefits of the public’s generosity.

One such scheme, M13 Youth Project in Ardwick, will receive £99,000 from a Comic Relief grant for their Sport for Change programme.

M13 Youth Project, established in 1995, is a community-based project and specialises in street-based detached youth work with Ardwick youth’s who have low aspiration, poor levels of achievement and face high incidence of violent crime and gang activity.

Ardwick is in the top one per cent of the most deprived communities in the UK and it’s hoped that the Sport for Change programme will engage with young residents of the area. The programme will help motivate, support and encourage 300 young people, aged 16-25, from across Ardwick to use football as a way of learning through experiences.

Gideon Thomas, 31, a youth worker for M13 Youth Project, coaches the football team and explained the importance of the funding to the ongoing work carried out.

“We strive to provide continuity and a safe environment for our young men and in a political environment where youth work provisions are being cut, this funding will help us continue to do so.

“We don’t have to wait for them to go off track; we can provide positive role models and help them work towards something positive.”

Although Ardwick has been historically been labelled by some as a problem area, Mr Thomas insists the area that produced England footballers Wes Brown and Danny Welbeck is continuing to make strides and that there is a lot for the community to be proud of.

Speaking of the importance of recognising Ardwick’s residents as people rather than statistics, Mr Thomas told MM how he urges the players of Ardwick FC to use their life experiences as inspiration on the pitch, and vice versa.

“The Sport Relief money will make a real difference and allow us to continue our work with some of the most disadvantaged people in the area.

“The positive legacy of this funding will last much longer than the money itself,” he added.

Other projects to benefit from the funding include Groundwork Pennine Lancashire Trust, a project that will receive £108,349 to help young people who have experienced problems with alcohol misuse.

The UK has the highest proportion of 15-year-olds in Europe who have admitted to being drunk 10 or more times, and five out of six young men, as well as three quarters of young women, aged 18-24 admit to binge-drinking.

Using the grant, the Trust will work with vulnerable youths to help educate them to the dangers of alcohol abuse and help them get their lives back on track.

Pankhurst Centre, on Oxford Road, is a community centre that provides and offers space for activities and events run by women for women. The centre will receive a grant of £14,250 and is based in what was once the home of Emmeline Pankhurst and family who led the Suffragette campaign for Votes for Women.

Vulnerable women who have experienced domestic violence, sexual abuse, mental health problems, or who have had problems with substance misuse or financial difficulties, can sometimes lack the confidence and self-esteem they need to turn their lives around.

This is where Pankhurst Centre aims to help. They run a programme of activities for women aimed at improving their mental and physical wellbeing through a variety of methods including relaxation techniques and confidence building.

Speaking about Sunday’s mile event, Kevin Cahill, chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “We’re thrilled that so many people have come out to take part in the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile.

“To have over a million people doing a mile over this weekend is incredible. What a fantastic way to celebrate the biggest year of sport and cap off a record breaking Sport Relief Weekend.”

As running shoes across Manchester go back into the cupboard, ready for their next airing in the near future, the legacy of the funding provided to local causes by Sport Relief will last for some time yet.

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