Giving Equality a Sporting Chance in Greenwich
Royal Borough of Greenwich and Charlton Athletic Football Club
Using sport, art and new social media to build strong, active and inclusive communities
Half-time at Charlton Athletic Football Stadium and 26,000 fans are watching a film about diversity in the community of Greenwich, London. The film One Game, One Community is the brain-child of a group of young people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds on a specially-funded film course. Film-making is just one of the activities that the Charlton Athletic Race and Equality Partnership offers.
The ground-breaking partnership between Greenwich Council and Charlton Athletic Football Club delivers a full program of courses and activities aimed at promoting social inclusion, tackling inequality and discrimination, and building community cohesion through sport, art and media.
Building bridges in the community
The CARE Partnership, the first collaboration between a UK local authority and professional football club, has been delivering its program since 1992, giving young people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds. Opportunities range from accredited sports coaching qualifications and film production to women’s football and digital photography.
Sport has enormous potential for building bridges between communities and team sport in particular, can help to develop social networks, forge friendships, and overcome differences by promoting mutual understanding. CARE’s annual football tournament gives individuals the opportunity to form teams, regardless of their background, and brings together around 200 young people every year, from 17 national and ethnic groups.
Art and media can also facilitate contact and friendship between groups. CARE offers a variety of interactive courses in arts and drama, as well as multimedia and digital technology, which have proved to be a useful platform for cross-cultural interaction. Participants produce a variety of drama productions, films and art exhibitions.
The CARE Partnership develops community interaction and dialogue by uniting people from different backgrounds and has proven invaluable to community engagement and inclusion. The project provides a platform for cross-cultural communication, which is essential for changing attitudes and values necessary to facilitate positive interaction; all this while helping young people to gain confidence and develop practical skills and qualifications.
In a challenging economic climate where efficient use of resources is essential, collaborative working has become increasingly important for delivering services and activities. The CARE Partnership model has proven crucial to providing a flexible approach and delivering positive benefits for local communities. CARE is recognized as an example of ‘best practice’ by the UK Commission on Integration and Cohesion and was also commended by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights who stated: “CARE plays a crucial role in helping to tackle social exclusion…and build positive relationships between people from different backgrounds.”
An evaluation of CARE’s arts program, which works with 19 different ethnic groups, found that 78% of participants felt that they had a better understanding of people in their local community because of the program. According to one participant, “…my views and opinions on communities have changed in positive ways.” Several participants also reported gaining confidence and having met people they would not normally meet.
A recent project, working with young people who were not in education, employment or training, resulted in 60% of participants gaining opportunities in one of these areas and was recognized as one of the ‘best performing programs’ by the London Development Agency.
The essence of CARE’s innovative program is perhaps best captured by a participant who explained that: “The most important thing I learned was how different communities can work together.”
Making it Work for You:
- The success of the CARE Partnership rests on uniting young people from different groups around universal interests; sport, art and media.
- Emphasizing common interests and shared goals promotes intercultural dialogue and focuses attention on peoples’ commonalities rather than differences.
- Combining community engagement with practical skill development produces supplementary benefits to community cohesion, and gives participants a practical motivation for participating.