Tess Dawe, Community Development Worker (Prevention) in the Complex needs Team, Cornwall council
I wanted to set up a project that would positively engage people in the Rough Sleeping Community ahead of the escalation of issues that often arise in the summer months in Penzance. After exploring ideas with St Petrocs day centre staff and deciding outdoor activity would be a good option, I met with Jason at Plymouth Argyll to see if they could help having heard about their great Kick About project. Jason was keen for Plymouth Argyle to positively engage with the people of Penzance who would not usually have access to the type of sessions they offer.
“Using the power of the Plymouth Argyle brand and the diverse skill set of our coaches, we hope we can inspire the people we work with to become more active and enjoy taking part in sporting activities with other people. Some of the people we hope to work with can feel socially isolated and we hope to help them feel part of the community in Penzance, along with rebuilding their trust and confidence in meeting and interacting with new people again.”Gary, our coach
Abigail Simpson,(Abi) the Vocational Development Officer from St Petrocs, recruited participants for the sessions, encouraging people to come along and give it a try, even as spectators or photographers. She also brought along much appreciated drinks and snacks.
We saw a positive start with a fun football session. It was a hot day and Garry from Argyll set up some fun football activities, which the brave Faye and Mark from St Petrocs day centre joined in. Abi and I appreciated the shade of a tree while we chatted to people when they rested on the side lines, giving us a chance to get to know each other and Abi offered more opportunities available in the community. One of the participants from the session said that, even though his leg was hurting, he wanted to carry on as he was having fun and didn’t want it to end. We all ended the session with a sore jaw from laughing at each other throughout.
It was the start of something great as Garry hoped and Wayne, the coach who continued the sessions, made sure each week was a fun filled hour for the people who attended who were able to join in as they liked and choose different activities, including tennis and even a game of rounders with tennis rackets, which I regretted joining in when I realised how far the tennis balls would go and having to run uphill to collect them.
My hope was that the people who came achieved positive outcomes on top of increasing their physical activity, such as connecting to others, feeling more positive and going on to take part in further activities. One participant said, “It keeps me away from the alcohol.”
This was a pilot funded by the complex needs team. It’s success has led Abi to continue the sessions monthly through St Petrocs.