Priority Place project gets community active with new sporting initiatives

Published Thursday, 18 November 2021

July 2021 saw the launch of the Go Foleshill project which has so far made a huge impact on the levels of physical activity and wellbeing in the community.

Go Foleshill

The project is delivered by Coventry City Council and Coventry organisation, Positive Youth Foundation, and has got almost 600 young people and families active so far.

Go Foleshill is one of three Priority Place projects in Coventry that are funded by Sport England and aims to approach stubborn inequalities. The inequalities are being tackled by delivering innovative ways of engaging residents in physical and wellbeing activities tailored to the community - in particular children and families in light of the ongoing health inequalities within the area of Foleshill.

Rashid Bhayat from Positive Youth Foundation, said: “Research shows that there was an increase in obesity in children in Year 6 city-wide. Looking at three-year trends, almost 30% of those children are from Foleshill.

“This data demonstrates the need for projects like Go Foleshill in communities and we are trying our best to help tackle this. We are really enjoying seeing the residents of Foleshill coming out and enjoying activities, whether they are promoting physical or mental wellbeing.

“So far we have worked with many partners and organisations to give the residents as many opportunities as possible. We have worked with the West Midlands Combined Authority, British Cycling and the Holiday Activity and Food provision team, to name a few”.

Go Foleshill and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) formed a partnership to transform the canal as an under-used public space, and into a ‘Active Community Space’ as part of a public realm trial. The collaboration will take advantage of canal side redevelopments and local green space for use locally. Go Foleshill will be working with local people to lead on the activities based in and around the canal by actively working with them to both upskill and empower.

The Go Foleshill team have also been working with British Cycling to host Learn to Ride sessions in the Foleshill community.

A huge part of the Go Foleshill project is to look at ways to try and bring people out to the canal and into local parks while being more active in general. After improvements the Canal and River Trust made to the towpaths, together with the project’s output, activity in these areas has already increased.

Going back to the beginning of the project, Go Foleshill launched a summer holiday timetable which brought together over 20 sessions for each of the six weeks that families and young people could access for free in the Foleshill area. Activities included street cricket, fishing sessions, summer Holiday Activity and Food provision and more.

Councillor Kamran Caan, Cabinet Member Public Health and Sport, said: “It’s fantastic to see the work that has gone into this project so far. We are already starting to see changes in the resident's behaviour after just a few months.

“Once we help people to feel comfortable by the canal, then we hope the walking, running, fishing and cycling groups will follow and further increase the activity we see in Foleshill areas like this. The team have already got Let’s Fish sessions up and running and they’re working with British Cycling to give people sessions along the canal.

“I’m excited to see the innovative ideas the Go Foleshill team develop next and look forward to seeing how they make a difference to the mental and physical wellbeing of the community.”

Haroon Mota a Foleshill resident, fitness enthusiast and Community Ambassador for Go Foleshill, added: “I guess there’s no better person to encourage other people to get out and use the local parks and canal towpath then me. In my youth, I never went onto the canal, even though I walked past it every day. Whereas now, I run on it nearly every day.

It won’t be a quick fix because there is a stigma attached to the canal and parks in Foleshill.  In my community, the canal is considered to be a place where there’s lots of rubbish, no lights and a bit unsafe. So, I totally appreciate and understand people's reservations. We've got a nice stretch of canal, but there's a huge disconnect with the people that live beside it. I really look forward to seeing how this project improves people’s perception and level of activity in the area.”

 Go Foleshill have formed strong relationships with local primary schools, the Canal and River Trust who has opened up more opportunities such as the floating library, floating classroom and Let’s Fish sessions, the Ludic Rooms who has supported local youth groups and schools to be part of events such as The Random Strings Festival and Roam and Dwell sessions and Mercia Canoe Club.

More information on the Go Foleshill project can be found on Positive Youth Foundation’s website.

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To contact the Go Foleshill team, email [email protected]

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