Objectives Manchester has a population of 552,000, with the population of 10–19years olds being 78,700 – 39,200 of these being females1 (Manchester census 2021). Local research studies (RECLAIM2) working with young people in Manchester highlighted that there is a desire for young people to engage directly with professionals to help improve relationships and to pioneer new initiatives bringing the groups together.
Methods As part of the Health Education England population health fellowship3, based at the Greater Violence Reduction Unit4- UniteHER was created. This project brought girls aged 10–16 years together with females in professional roles (doctors, lawyers, nurses, police) through a morning of activities which included- Netball skills (provided by England Netball5), lifesaving first aid skills from StreetDoctors6, interactive healthy relationship sessions from ToughCookies7 and a Q&A between the girls and professionals. The aim of UniteHER was for the young girls to meet female inspirational women in professions and break down barriers and preconceived apprehension between them as well as provide positive role models and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.
Results In June 2022, 21 girls and 12 professional volunteers attended the UniteHER event based in Moss Side Leisure Centre. The overwhelming feedback was positive (100% enjoyed the day- 3 girls even commented that they would like to do it again). The young people commented that they ‘enjoyed working alongside the professionals and meeting them in a fun and safe way’, that they found it useful to ‘understand women’s rights, consent and confidentially’ and that they loved ‘learning lifesaving skills of how to manage a stab wound’. As part of the evaluation the girls were asked how comfortable they felt talking to professionals (police, doctors, social workers etc) before and after the event. The average score before the event was 6.6 (out of 10, where 1 is not comfortable at all, 10 is very comfortable) and the average score following the event was 8.6 (out of 10). This shows that there has been a clear improvement in the perceived relationship between the young girls and female professionals.
Conclusions The session has received excellent feedback from organisations and parents of those involved highlighting its success and novel way to break barriers between professionals and young people, whilst empowering young girls.
As the event was a success the hope will be that we can replicate it again in another locality within Greater Manchester and possibly include other sports/activities. There is also the possibility for the project to be used in other regions nationally following the same format.
Census 2021. 2022. Census 2021 results - Census 2021. [online] Available at: <https://census.gov.uk/census-2021-results> [Accessed 2 August 2022].
org.uk. 2022. Keeping Children and Young People Safe. [online] Available at: <https://www.reclaim.org.uk/kcyps> [Accessed 2 March 2022].
GM VRU https://gmvru.co.uk
England Netball https://www.englandnetball.co.uk
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