In August 2020 we joined ukactive and a host of other organisations partners, in collaboration with the City of Birmingham School, to deliver the Open Doors programme across Birmingham, using sport and physical activity to engage vulnerable children and young people over the school holidays.

The West Midlands Violence Reduction Unit (WM VRU) has partnered with ukactive and the City of Birmingham School PRU, supporting delivery of the programme across Birmingham with us as a delivery partner alongside Premier Education, and Sport Birmingham.

It means City of Birmingham School sites across the city will remain open this summer to children and young people most at risk of youth violence and crime – a risk heightened this year by the impact of COVID-19.

Open Doors forms part of ukactive’s policy call for government to invest in its ‘Schools as Community Hubs’ model, unlocking school facilities outside of the school day to support young people.

The Open Doors programme centres on unlocking school sports facilities as safe, trusted spaces where the most vulnerable young people are able to engage in sports and physical activity, mentoring and education, facilitated by positive role models, mentors and coaches.

Following the Government’s COVID-secure guidance, the Open Doors programme will run this summer and through to the end of the first full school term, working in collaboration with locally trusted providers to engage children and young people in sport and activities at a time of extreme isolation and community disconnection.

It focuses on supporting the most at-risk young people, working with Alternate Provision units, Pupil Referral Units, primary and secondary schools in disadvantaged areas to engage young people that have already been or are at risk of exclusion from mainstream education and at risk of youth crime.

ukactive’s call to unlock Schools as Community Hubs was delivered to Number 10 last year by a delegation including our Founder Lawrence Dallaglio OBE, Paralympic champion and ukactive Chair, Baroness TanniGrey-Thompson; Nike athlete and Iron Man, John McAvoy and psychologist and prison researcher Professor Rosie Meek. The programme also has the support of ukactive board member and Government advisor, Professor Dame Carol Black.

Jack Shakespeare, Director of Children, Young People, Families and Research at ukactive, said: “We are delighted to partner with the WM VRU and the City of Birmingham School, as well as our delivery providers in the field, to really make a difference to the lives of young people over the school holidays this year.

“These new partnerships mean we can expand the Open Doors programme to reach more young people across Birmingham who otherwise may not have the same opportunities for positive engagement as their peers.

“Open Doors will show exactly why we believe now is the time for Westminster to be bolder and more ambitious in its plans for young people’s health and wellbeing, by backing schools as community hubs on a national scale.”

Find out more by visiting the ukactive website.