Wester Hailes Csh 1

Wester Hailes United

Football project set out to strengthen unity and reduce hate crime

A project in Wester Hailes in Edinburgh has been set up to try to strengthen relationships, reduce racially motivated bullying, and improve friendships between young people from a variety of backgrounds in the area through their involvement in sport.

Wester Hailes is an area with multiple deprivation* and has one of the most diverse communities in Edinburgh, that includes a Black African population seven times the average of the UK^. A lack of understanding for the various cultures, races, and religions has led to an increase in verbal and physical violence between the young people from various backgrounds in the area.

This new project, ran by Wester Hailes community sport hub is part of the national sportscotland community sport hub network. The National Lottery funded network brings sports clubs and community organisations together locally to improve the contribution sport and physical activity has within communities across Scotland, will act as targeted intervention to make Western Hailes a more inclusive community.

The project will be run in partnership with black and minority ethnic charity, Passion4Fusion, The Wee Haven Youth (WHY) Project and the local authority youth work team and has been supported with funding by Places for People, a funding stream created by a local housing association.

How the project began

Through the partners, it was apparent that young people living across the area have lacked opportunities to participate in activity with people from different backgrounds and are not exposed regularly to the social differences in families different to their own. This lack of exposure has led to many race relation challenges in the community.

Passion4Fusion in partnership with Wester Hailes Community Sports Hub and Active Schools have been holding successful football sessions to around 50 young people aged 6-14 since January 2023, however it was from these sessions that the conversation started about identifying the need for a more targeted intervention project.

Isaac Akhadelor, health and wellbeing outreach worker for Passion4Fusion said: “Our current project underscores the demand for constructive activities for young people in the community.

"These sports activities bring together diverse groups and are driven by our commitment to inclusivity and creating an environment where young people feel empowered, valued, and supported, which are all essential for both mental and physical health.

“For young people from marginalised families who live with the constant fear of racism, bullying and discrimination, there are extra obstacles to recognising their strengths and unlocking their full potential, and ultimately contributing to a healthier and happier local community.”

What is involved?

Despite the number of challenges in the area, the young people have a keen interest in football and a willingness to engage in this in familiar environments. Therefore, the new project will take place at the local Gate 55 Community Centre and be delivered by a collaborative team from Passion4Fusion, The WHY Project and City of Edinburgh Council Youth Work staff.

From the 50 young people participating in the football sessions, around 15 young people who need support the most have been identified to be part of the more targeted provision. This activity will take place on Thursday evenings, where there is a current gap in provision. Football will be the main hook, however there will be the opportunity for additional sports through the community sport hub network, depending on the young people’s wants.

Prior to the start of these sessions, Project Esperanza, an Edinburgh based charity who deliver anti-racism training and support to organisations, will deliver a programme of workshops which will create a safe space for antiracism learning and allow for safe discussion and reflection, while providing staff the tools and techniques to recognise and challenge racism.

Gate 55 will be used for activity and as a social safe space where the group can access food provided by The WHY Project. Alongside this, it will allow specific time for the young people to spend with the youth workers from The WHY Project , Passion4Fusion and the council, as well as building race relation activities delivered by the partners. The young people will also delve deeper and gain a better understanding about other people’s backgrounds and take steps in addressing some of the causes and motivation for hate crimes.

This more targeted provision will run for at least one calendar year, starting at the beginning of November, and it’s hoped that using sport will create fruitful outcomes in terms of reducing discrimination in the community, strengthening community integration and overcoming social barriers to make Wester Hailes a more inclusive community .

What they said

Sabrina Tickle, co-founder of The WHY Project said: “Youth work and improving the lives of young people in Wester Hailes is our main passion. The key for us is creating safe spaces and consistency. Young people attending with staff they recognise from the football sessions will allow us to focus on building trust and developing meaningful relationships needed to deliver a successful project.

“We were approached to work alongside Passion4Fusion to tackle racism, and being aware of their work, values and approach previously it was an excellent fit for us and we could immediately see the benefits for young people and the community overall.”

Jonathan Wallace, Community Sport Hub officer for The City of Edinburgh Council said: “The Wester Hailes CSH initially provided a platform for local organisations to discuss what was happening in Wester Hailes.

"This project emanated from a real community need and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to bring the key partners in this project together, collaborate and laterally co-produce.

"I look forward to seeing this project bring about meaningful impact.”

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* Based on Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD)

^ According to the 2011 Census Data

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