Sporting Equals welcomed the publication of the Audit Commission Report “Tired of Hanging Around” that showed sport and leisure activities can help stop young people drifting into anti-social behaviour. The Report highlighted that young people need accessible, reliable and relevant activities and recommended that the needs of black and minority ethnic (BME) young people should be addressed.
Arun Kang, Chief Executive of Sporting Equals said:
“This report reiterates the urgent need for co-ordinated national and local action that meets the needs of young people of all communities. We feel that service providers, be it local government or commissioned agents, should ensure that initiatives are developed and designed with respect to the specific needs of BME young people. The Audit Commission Report has confirmed that this does not always happen”.
The BME young people issue is of particular importance because of the proportion of young people as a percentage of their ethnic group in the UK; 38% of the Bangladeshi community; 35% of the Pakistani community; and 30% of the Black African community are aged under 16 years, compared to 20% of White British population. Whilst it is important to emphasise that young people are amongst the most vulnerable in our communities and should not be seen as the problem, failure to recognise these demographic changes and plan accordingly can have a negative impact on anti-social behaviour.
Arun Kang added:
“What is also important is that the aspiration of BME young people to participate in sport and physical activities is relatively high. This highlights the need to address issues of access and opportunity for BME young people.
It is only when these issues are tackled and addressed we will see a reversal in the trend of BME communities being over-represented in the criminal justice system. The problem public agencies have is that they need to increase confidence in BME young people of their services and commitment by effective engagement. Local Authorities should begin by using the active voluntary sector to broker relationships and support sustainable funding to ensure effective long term change”.
Sporting Equals have examples of projects that demonstrate the vital role that sport and leisure plays in reducing anti-social behaviour. We also have a national database of BME organisations that are ready and willing to work on sports and physical activity projects with young people to reduce anti social behaviour.
Sporting Equals would welcome the opportunity to work with the Audit Commission to produce guidance to improve provision of activities to BME young people.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS