Breaking Boundaries Community Champions Support Manchester with Community On Solid Ground!

Community On Solid Ground (CSG) is a grassroots charity based in Manchester that works predominantly with young people, but also runs projects with women and the community as a whole. They also help support the Breaking Boundaries project within the city of Manchester. 

Breaking Boundaries is a three-year programme (2018 –2021) funded by Spirit of 2012, supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and The Institute of Community Cohesion (Icoco).

It aims to socially connect young people, their families and communities together through regular cricket engagement, fostering mutual respect and friendships by playing, spectating and volunteering.  It is being delivered in 5 cities; Bradford, Birmingham, London (Barking and Dagenham), Manchester and Slough.

We spoke to Manchester based community organisation, 'Community On Solid Ground' to see how the pandemic has impacted their work and how our Community Champions have been assisting: 

The current unprecedented times which we are all living through has seen a huge change in lifestyle worldwide caused by the global pandemic; Covid-19. With the nation in lockdown, we discover how one organisation in Manchester is continuing to improve community cohesion and keeping the community connected.

They are keeping the community together through their social media platforms and they share with Breaking Boundaries the ways they are keeping their youth engaged and active during the lockdown period.

Community On Solid Ground is an active and effective charity that uses sports, education, training, social activities, and mentoring to empower young people. All these many activities aim to increase their confidence, motivation, skills, employability and quality of life.

All of CSG's work is underpinned by the determination to improve the quality of life in the local community, addressing Community issues.  We work very closely with all ethnic backgrounds; Black African/Caribbean, Asian, White, Arab.

Which is why they have been pivotal in supporting the work of Breaking Boundaries, which uses cricket as a tool in partnership with community organisations and youths to build more cohesive and connected communities.

“It is very important that we share important information with our service-users, to keep them engaged with the present situation and help them stay safe and prevent them from being inactive. 

"We do our best to make sure they are keeping fit and healthy.” Said Majid Dar, Operations Manager.

CSG deliver many projects at their centre which is adjacent to Manley Park; an ideal location for outdoor sports which the youth enjoy. This space would normally give the youths space to play football, cricket and tennis - just to mention a few sports.

The age group of the youths that attend CSG ranges between 6 - 19-years-old.  Their projects include community cohesion, crime reduction, Friday Night Street Reds, Saturday Night Youth Club, Girls Group Project, Sports Leadership Training, Football Skills Training/Awards, Keep On Moving, University of Cambridge course in Integrative Complexity (I.C), Residentials, Adults' Advice and Information Drop-in and Inspirational Visits.

Waqaas Zafar, Youth and Community Co-ordinator stated “These bizarre times have affected CSG's normal working practice, within projects and face to face time with over 400 young people who attend our organisation.

We felt it necessary for our organisation and for our communities' wellbeing to continue our work supporting the community in the best and safest way we could”.

Waqaas continued to say: “Before the Covid-19 pandemic we were bringing kids together through sports, centre-based youth work, activities, events workshops and discussions with young people and peer mentors.

"This has brought kids from different backgrounds, faiths and wards of Manchester together. 

"Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, we are staying in touch with our young people to stay connected to empower and motivate them through our social media.”

The team have adapted to help and ease the situation by creating a hub to communicate and continue supporting the young people and community - wherever or whoever requires support.

The Young Leaders, including our Breaking Boundaries Community Champions are helping in the community. They do so by supporting local pharmacies delivering hand sanitises, facemasks, vitamins and paracetamol - they're also helping deliver food parcels and sports equipment to those in need.

CSG is also providing food parcels consisting of many different types of foods to families and individuals who are in need within their communities and neighbouring wards. Through this, they are hoping to maintain community cohesion and care for all the community by ensuring families manage to stay nourished, healthy and feel cared for.

The Community Champions who are at the epicentre of Breaking Boundaries, they are the youths who are mentored, trained and supported to deliver community projects to increase community cohesion also are Young Leaders at CSG. 

These Community Champions are helping CSG identify other young and potentially vulnerable young people who are in need of support. 

One Community Champion said: 

“We hear of so many people dying every day because of the Coronavirus; I want to be the reason why someone survived because I delivered this parcel to them and be able to help their families”.

Here are some ideas which CSG have been implementing over the course of the pandemic, to achieve and maintain service to the communities in a safe manner: 

  • Moving services to digital platforms where young people can still keep in touch and vice versa through social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more recently TikTok. Interactions relationship with the young people seems positive through social media and digital media.
  • Posting content and 'at home activities' that young people can take part in e.g. motivational videos, safety advice, sport, and nutrition as well asking them what support they would like to see from us during Convid-19.
  • Phone call or video chats service where young people can book a slot throughout the day to speak to one of our staff.
  • We, in partnership with Manchester Pharmacy and Human Relief foundation  assisted by our Young Leaders, who are delivering essential supplies to the most vulnerable people free of charge. This is a service where the community can order their Masks, hand sanitizers, Vitamin D and multivitamin tablets online and through telephone. In addition to this Manchester pharmacy  provides them with free advice. These Young Leaders are helping us identify other young people who are in need of support.
  • Providing sports equipment to families. We receive and are deliver tennis sets supplied by The Lawn Tennis Association along with Street Games; with activity sheets that young people can use to encourage games with family members.
  • Over 50 food parcels (consisting of Cereals, Rice, Pasta, Oil, tinned Tuna, Chickpeas and other such items) will be distributed to those families or individuals who are in need within the Whalley Range and neighbouring wards.  

Community On Solid Ground works in co-operation with strategic partners city-wide including Breaking Boundaries. 

CSG, like all other organisations will have to reschedule to deliver their festival/event with Breaking Boundaries once the lockdown, comes to an end and it is safe to hold community events, but in the meantime, they continue to engage their users to keep them active and safe at home.

For more information on CSG, you may visit their website and follow them on social media. 

Twitter: @YOSG_UK