Many of the projects run by Halifax Opportunities Trust are shaped by community engagement – listening to the concerns, hopes and fears of community members and together building effective, long-term solutions.
Through our Staying Well outreach work at a local Mosque in Halifax it became apparent that anti-social behaviour in areas of Park Ward was an issue for residents living nearby. The anti-social behaviour consisted
mainly of young males hanging around on street corners with little to do. There were also concerns around suspected misuse of drugs by members of these groups.
After being approached by a key worker on the Staying Well team, a member of one of these groups, Ahmed*, decided to take up the offer to join Staying Well’s 8 week football programme pilot.
Ahmed lived at home with his parents and two younger siblings and had started to associate with the other young males hanging around as there were few other recreational opportunities in the neighbourhood.
Ahmed was interested in learning more about the pilot football programme and attended a meeting at Hanson Lane’s Staying Well Hub the following day along with other young men from the group. At the meeting the young men were given the opportunity to discuss what they wanted to get out of the football programme and also advised about other opportunities around training and employment as part of a package of support we could offer.
Ahmed stayed behind after the meeting to discuss his own personal situation with the Staying Well team. He explained that he had successfully completed the first year of a Business Studies course at Huddersfield
University but was reluctant to return for his 2nd year. His peer group were into illegal activities selling and taking illegal substances and Ahmed felt pressure to follow suit even though he knew it was wrong. Having
grown-up with these friends since childhood he felt his loyalties lay with them, but was troubled by what continuing to associate with them might mean. The peer pressure had meant that Ahmed had begun to withdraw from the group and even his family, who had noticed he was spending far more time alone in his room leaving Ahmed feeling isolated.
After discussing his situation with the Staying Well worker Ahmed came to realise that he had made the right decision to stay away from his friends who were a bad influence, but that he would have to take positive
steps to get his own life back on tracks. Ahmed joined the Football pilot programme as a way of getting out of the house and of meeting new people to form friendships with. He also agreed to change everyday activities like his route to university in order to avoid situations where he would bump into in old friends.
Ahmed successfully completed his Business Studies course and after attending every week of the football pilot now enjoys playing regular football with a local team. He credits the Staying Well team with creating a
non-judgmental environment in which he could openly talk about the challenges he was facing and for supporting him to make better lifestyle choices. He continues to stay in touch with the team at Staying Well
and is looking forward to putting his new qualification in Business into practice.
*Name changed to protect individuals identity
‘Social Prescribing is a means of enabling GPs and other frontline healthcare professionals to refer patients to a link worker – to provide them with a face to face conversation during which they can learn about the possibilities and design their own personalised solutions, i.e. ‘co-produce’ their ‘social prescription’- so that people with social, emotional or practical needs are empowered to find solutions which will improve their health and wellbeing, often using services provided by the voluntary and community sector. It is an innovative and growing movement, with the potential to reduce the financial burden on the NHS and particularly on primary care.’ – www.socialprescribingnetwork.com