Activity Sheffield, (Sheffield City Council) has recently enjoyed great success in the Fir Vale area of the city with its Blastoff youth football programme – a Football On Your Doorstep initiative for 11 – 16 year olds. The programme is core funded by an Area Based Grant from Sheffield City Council, with additional funding from agencies such as South Yorkshire Police, Community Assemblies, and the Targeted Youth Service.
During the early stages of the project Activity Sheffield invested heavily in promotional materials to increase awareness and get young people interested and attending. Materials used included flyers, posters, flags and banners.
However, despite the investment in marketing it was not until a simple change of session times that the programme really took off in Fir Vale. The area has a large Muslim community and it was noted that the timing of the sessions clashed with local Mosque times, resulting in low attendances. The decision was taken to run the programme a couple of hours later to avoid the clash and this resulted in a much greater attendance (approximately ninety young people).
“We have been very pleased by the success of the Blastoff programme in Fir Vale,” says Lee Smith, Blastoff Development Officer, “by engaging with the local community we realised that a simple change in times could boost attendance and now it is proving very popular. After an initial investment in marketing materials the programme is now well known and we are using more cost-effective methods such as taster sessions, assemblies, word of mouth, promotional events and text messaging to spread the word. We have also recently started promoting on Facebook and Twitter and have a Blastoff website that is starting to attract visitors.”
“Running the programme in a predominantly Asian/Muslim part of the city hasn’t really changed the way we have promoted it but we now make sure that our sessions are delivered at a time that suits the community and in some areas we will also promote through local Mosques.”