Folkestone & Hythe
Culturally Diverse Communities
Football & Boxing
Napier provides temporary residence to adult males seeking asylum in the UK. Throughout the year, a number of adult males will be resident at this site. Escaping unimaginable circumstances in their home country, migrants claiming asylum will have made a long, difficult, and traumatic journey. During this journey, many have subsequently experienced physical and mental challenges and developed mistrust with law authorities.
Funding supported the physical activity aspect of the project. Sessions were booked at The Three Hills Sports Park in Folkestone. The site provided a full size all weather multi-sports pitch. Equipment was purchased, and a FA accredited football coach was provided. The site was specifically sought to support community interaction and develop confidence in attending community sites.
In addition to the provision of football, funding was awarded to support boxing equipment that was installed in the sports hall on site at Napier. Offering a variety of physical activity opportunities enabled Kent Police to engage with a number of residents at Napier and develop positive relationships. The activities have also provided an opportunity for residents to link with local sport clubs and activities when moving on from Napier.
Working with residents from Napier has been a very enjoyable experience. I have seen men of all abilities come alive on the pitch, laughing, and playing together.
Residents of all abilities have attended the sessions. Whilst providing an enjoyable and fun experience, group sessions have encouraged relationships between residents and improved physical and mental wellbeing.
There are many residents at Napier who have achieved academically and through sports. PE teachers, sports instructors, professional footballers, and martial arts are just a few examples of this. Currently a resident is training for a UFC competition that is being held in London. The funding and facilities provided by Kent Sport have supported his training and preparation and given opportunity for other residents to use, practice and develop their skills.
It has been recognised that the interaction between police and residents through the activity has encouraged attendance to the education sessions. Residents are more relaxed with a uniformed police officer and are more engaging if approached externally by police. This has shown that there is improved confidence and trust in the police.
Seeing the attendees help clear up the equipment and rubbish they had made showed they respected and appreciated what the coaches had done for them.
Language – Language barriers were a challenge for both the coaches and participants, resulting in confusion and loss of motivation. Discussions took place around what and how this could be improved and simple training activities were identified that could be demonstrated without vocal instruction.
Travel – Three Hills is a 30 minute walk from Napier. Initially the session was held in the morning, however there was a reluctance to leave in time to make the start of the session. Feedback from residents resulted in a day and time change resulting in increased engagement.
Covid – Covid restrictions meant use of the sports hall was restricted and at times closed. To ensure compliance, cohorts were created with set times for use of the hall. Now restrictions have eased, this no longer applies but can easily be re-introduced if there is an outbreak on site or if regulations return.
Flexible delivery models – Be prepared to adapt your delivery dependent on the audience, activity and environment. Having the ability to adapt will maximise your engagement from participants.
Create a positive environment – Have open and honest conversations with participants to recognise culture and individual needs and address the barriers they face.
Have fun! – Enjoyment is key to retaining participants. Make sure your sessions are fun and engaging. Ask participants what they enjoy and build on it.
After being told about the sessions by friends who have moved on, new arrivals ask when the sessions are taking place. This speaks volumes about how the site is able to offer an activity that they normally wouldn’t get at other accommodation.
The onsite sports hall will continue to provide opportunities for physical activity. To encourage attendance and support the health of residents, development of physical activity opportunities will continue to be provided. Napier’s provision of football will also continue and additionally, opportunities within the community and public recreational grounds will be sought.