Oldham Athletic Community Trust delivered their first Kicks session in Stoneleigh Park 15 months ago with the aim of working with young people and reducing the ASB in the area.
Within a matter of weeks, over 62 young people engaged in the session and used the park for positive activity every Friday night. Fast forward 15 months and the session is still going strong with a variety of partners now involved in helping to make the project a success.
Key to the success of the project has been local councillor Angela Cosgrove and the volunteers of 'Friends of Stoneleigh Park' (FOSP). Without the support from Councillor Cosgrove the project would not still be running today.
Kyle Riley, OACT Community Coach, explained: "Cllr Angela Cosgrove and the volunteers of FOSP are a huge part of the Friday Kicks session. Every week they open up the cabin and offer additional activities for the young people to participate in as well as the sport sessions. Everyone really admires their commitment and without them all we would have to cancel so many sessions during the winters months due to bad weather. Having the cabin open means the young people can still have somewhere to go on a Friday night all year round."
The sessions, which run every Friday night in the park (6-8pm) offer local youngsters a place to spend a couple of hours per week engaging in a variety of activities, whether it be sport, arts and crafts and even bowls. Whereas a year ago the project was all football based the sessions now offer much more than just football. The project has become a place where families spend time together with various generations of families integrating in the same place.
Cllr Angela Cosgrove commented: "The Friday night sessions at Stoneleigh Park are a hit with local young people as the volunteers from FOSP (Friends of Stoneleigh Park) and the Kickz lads work really well together creating a community atmosphere. Since the project started, as a resident of Derker and now the local councillor for the area, I have seen the difference this project has made, a reduction of ASB (Anti-social Behaviour), young people enjoying themselves and being active in sports and craft activities."
The project also has strong links with the local Police Community Support Officer's Joanna Haigh, Anna Pun and Alan Hayes. Every week a member of the local PSCO patrol take the time to call into the session to engage with the young people of the area. Through policing like this relationships have been formed between PCSO`s and young people of the area meaning that the area now has a real community feel.
Due to the support of Councillor Angela Cosgrove Oldham Athletic Community Trust have received funding to safeguard the project and continue the delivery of the project for a further year. The funding is coming from all of the St James Councillors, Cath Ball, Ginny Alexander and Angela Cosgrove.
Martin Vose, OACT Participation Manager added: "The support of Councillor Angela Cosgrove over the past year has been crucial to the success of the project in Stoneleigh Park. Angela has not only lobbied for funding to assist the project delivery but has been present at every session week in week out alongside our staff and the FOSP volunteers. Without Angela's support it is a fact that the Kicks session would not have continued after the initial 12 week trial period."