10 Ways Edinburgh Leisure Supports Care-Experienced Youth

Edinburgh Leisure | Monday 1st July 2024 0:05am

10 Ways Edinburgh Leisure Supports Care-Experienced Youth 

At Edinburgh Leisure, we are a charity dedicated to helping people stay active and well. Managing over 50 sports, leisure, and school facilities across the city, our mission is to create opportunities for everyone to get active and remain active. But our work goes beyond just providing facilities; through our Active Communities programme, we support 12,500 people annually who face the greatest barriers to getting active, including those affected by health conditions, disabilities, inequalities, and poverty. Among the groups we support are care-experienced children and young people (CECYP) and those struggling with mental health issues.

"As a Kinship Senior Practitioner, I have referred a number of care-experienced children and young people to Edinburgh Leisure (EL), who have experienced significant trauma, loss, and change. The support has been a real game changer, offering a chance to engage in healthier activities and lifestyles while meeting other young people from similar backgrounds. The staff are incredibly supportive, going the extra mile to ensure each young person feels welcomed, valued, and comfortable. Even for those not naturally inclined towards sports or physical activity, EL provides a safe, friendly environment that many young people travel across the city to attend. Please keep up the amazing work! Without this project, we would struggle to find positive activities for some of our care-experienced children and young people."

1. Why We Support This Group: Physical activity is one of the best things children and young people can do to improve their health and well-being. Regular exercise enhances cognitive function, improves concentration, and supports learning. Our activities provide opportunities for children and young people to make friends, build confidence, develop social skills, and have fun. 

2. Collaborative Efforts: CECYP are a key priority for the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC). Edinburgh Leisure collaborates with CEC’s Education, Social Work, and the Voluntary Sector, receiving around 20 new referrals each month. We have worked with 10 schools to deliver bespoke, instructor-led physical activity sessions in small groups or one-on-one for care-experienced pupils.

3. Looked After and Active: This programme uses physical activity to improve the lives of care-experienced children and young people. We provide free, supported access to a range of activities, including coached activities and motivational support. 

4. The Importance of Our Work: There are currently around 1,000 children and young people being looked after by the local authority, with many more between 0 – 26 years who are care-experienced. Care-experienced young people are more likely to lead sedentary lives and have poorer health outcomes than their peers. Barriers such as cost, low confidence, and lack of support mean they are unlikely to be active without targeted assistance. Our Looked After & Active project addresses these barriers, providing care-experienced youth with opportunities to improve their health, well-being, and quality of life. 

5. Who Benefits? Anyone up to the age of 26 who is looked after at home, in kinship care, foster care, residential care, or in through care, aftercare, and their carers can receive support.

6. Working with the Education Sector: We have collaborated with 10 schools and special schools to deliver bespoke physical activity sessions for 121 care-experienced pupils. Activities include gym workouts, swimming, rock climbing, badminton, and racketball.

7. Be Strong, Be You: Another Active Communities project, ‘Be Strong, Be You’, supports young people aged 12-18 experiencing mild to moderate mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression to be active and thrive.

8. Community Engagement: Alongside our school-based work, we deliver a community-based programme of group work and one-on-one sessions. Ten young people regularly attend our Friday afternoon physical activity sessions at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, and 11 young people receive one-on-one support to be active and thrive. 

9. The Numbers Speak for Themselves: In the last year, Edinburgh Leisure supported 536 care-experienced children and young people to make 8,228 visits to be active. Additionally, 105 children accessed free sports coaching, including swimming lessons, gymnastics, football, tennis, and holiday camps. Meanwhile, 121 young people aged 14-26 received one-on-one and group physical activity sessions. 

10. Who Pays for This Work? Our work is funded by the generosity of various organisations and trusts including the City of Edinburgh Council and the Life Changes Trust.  In March 2024, the City of Edinburgh Council agreed to provide further funding which will enable us to continue to support care experienced children until September 2024.

However, beyond September 2024, the future is uncertain. If you can support our work, please get in touch to help us continue supporting Edinburgh’s most disadvantaged children and young people.

Conclusion: With our city-wide sports and leisure facilities, well-established community partnerships, and support from expert staff, Edinburgh Leisure is uniquely placed to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and other key partners to empower care-experienced children and young people to live healthy, active lives.