Since 2009, Active Communities Network have delivered grassroots sports services to young people in Belfast. Our pilot programme – GOALS (Generating Opportunities and Learning Through Sport) worked with a small group of high risk young people in Ballymurphy and Whiterock (West Belfast) using sport to develop their resilience and wider mental health outcomes, supporting them to make positive life choices. The project was subject to an impact report by the University of Ulster which supported our approach and methodology.
Our work in Belfast has been subject to significant growth since 2011 with a range of grassroots sports projects developed using this methodology across West, North and East Belfast. We target areas of high tension and deprivation mapped against a lack of sports provision for young people, many of whom live in chaotic circumstances without positive role models and opportunities to achieve. Our delivery model (below) is embedded in communities with young people given the opportunity to participate on a 50 week a year basis.
As of April 2015 we have expanded to supporting partners replicate this in Portadown, Coleraine and Omagh to further embed an evidence based approach to working across Northern Ireland.