Ground-breaking community cohesion project opens in Birmingham

Partnership aims to build communities through sport.

This Saturday, 9th February, a nationwide project that brings together young people, their families and communities through a shared love of cricket gets underway at Edgbaston.

The ‘Breaking Boundaries’ City Leadership event is the first of its kind, and is being held in Birmingham, one of five localities chosen for this ground-breaking project that aims to build happier, healthier communities. The event will be supported by Sport Birmingham, Warwickshire Cricket Board and Edgbaston Foundation. Breaking Boundaries has been developed in partnership with the English Cricket Board and Professor Ted Cantle and the Institute of Community Cohesion. Ted is the UK’s leading authority on community cohesion and intercultural relations.

“Breaking Boundaries will focus on enabling local communities to feel a sense of belonging, encouraging empathy and developing long-lasting relationships between people of different backgrounds, which will help build more cohesive communities and reduce hate crime,” says Arun Kang, CEO, Sporting Equals, who are helping deliver the project alongside the Youth Sport Trust. It is funded by Spirit of 2012, who awarded £1.8 million to launch the project in March this year.

“We’re really excited about Breaking Boundaries, which was designed with cohesion expert Professor Ted Cantle to make a difference in neighbourhoods where there is a real need to bring community groups together,” says Spirit of 2012 Chief Executive Debbie Lye. “The potential of this project is huge: if we harness love of the wonderful game of cricket to empower young people to lead change, they can take what they learn into their schools, sports and social groups and homes. We’re putting them at the centre of fostering mutual respect and new friendships – a movement for real, positive change.”

Birmingham is the last of five City Leadership events – with events already delivered in Barking and Dagenham, Manchester, Slough and Bradford – The event will deliver high-quality training to young Community Champions, who will be at the forefront of the project.

“The Community Champions are the drivers of this programme. We will support these young people to go out and make a positive difference to their community,” Arun continues. “We’re training them up in leadership skills as well as in understanding community cohesion, providing them with a spark to create their own projects and the capacity to become real agents for change in the areas they live in.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Spirit of 2012 and Sporting Equals on this innovative and exciting programme, using sport to unite communities and change lives,” says Ali Oliver, CEO of the Youth Sport Trust. “At a time when it can feel like divisions in society are growing, harnessing the power of sport to heal divisions and bring communities together is increasingly vital. This programme has the potential to make a huge, tangible and lasting difference to the lives of many people.”