‘Birmingham Connect’ used the power of sport, and excitement of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022, to promote social integration of young people aged 11-13 years from diverse and segregated communities in Birmingham.

The project, led by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Team England brought together 13 city schools and saw young people paired with students in other schools across the city to help them connect through sport.

Pairing schools across Birmingham encouraged meaningful social mixing to improve attitudes and perceptions held of people from different backgrounds; driven by young people who will catalyse change.

In our partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, we wanted to engage schools and young people to encourage a local identity and sense of belonging across Birmingham; focus on what people have in common; build understanding and mutual trust; change perceptions, attitudes and behaviours; focus on integration, inclusion and interaction; and ensure participating children and young people, teachers and families have fun trying different sporting and cultural activity.

To celebrate the conclusion of the program, the partner schools were brought together for a final Connect ALL virtual celebration. This event allowed the 13 partner schools to collaborate and reflect on their own programme mission and celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

We believe this will drive significant positive change on the longer-term integration of schools and communities across the city – resulting in a legacy of learning, participation, connection and pride.

The year-long programme aimed to improve social mixing and build young people’s understanding of different communities. It particularly focused on tackling segregation of young people of different ethnicities, who come from areas of deprivation or who have a disability.

The project was run by the Youth Sport Trust in partnership with Team England. Birmingham Connect received funding from Sport England and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government as part of the Integrated Communities Innovation Fund (ICIF). It was delivered with support from Inspire Activity Ltd, Culture Central and Birmingham Education Partnership.


Overview

The programme aimed to:

  • Deliver world-class learning opportunities that are accessible to young people
  • Accelerate, amplify and innovation action to strengthen community cohesion
  • Build friendship, acceptance and tolerance

The Programme reached at least 3,600 children & young people and supported over 100 young people to become young leaders as ‘CONNECTORS’

They all benefitted from:

  • Assembly introductions and taster sessions
  • Specialist training for youth leaders
  • 5 local integrated sporting and cultural events, organised by the young CONNECTORS
  • Social mixing opportunities a the ‘Connect All’ sporting and cultural festivals
  • Inspiration from culturally diverse Athlete Mentors and staff from the B2022 team
  • Plan for pathways into future sporting events, cultural events and further opportunities for young leaders


You can watch our video on Birmingham Connect and Youth Sport Trust below:

Over the year, pairs of schools worked together to give students the opportunity to mix with young people from different backgrounds. Schools chosen to take part had been identified as being highly segregated, through ethnicity, deprivation of disability.

100 young people recruited across the 20 schools were trained as Connectors to lead the project for their school, with support from teachers.

Every school received inspirational assemblies and training and then planned and organised four sporting events with their partner schools.