These programme notes were written by Head of the Hatters Trust Kevin Thoburn for the Morecambe edition of This Is Our Town.
We are today delighted to announce agreement has been reached with the Council to establish the 'Luton Street League' project that will use sport to improve community cohesion and life chances for young people in Luton.
The overall project has a budget of almost £250,000 between now and March 2019, and involves investment from both the Trust, our partners Beds Cricket and the European Union through the European Social Fund.
Luton Street League will open ten centres across town that will offer football, cricket and other sports activities and develop these centres into a league format with young people from right across Luton, aimed at improving community cohesion as they engage with each other on a regular basis.
In addition, all centres will offer employment training and skills workshops to help participants either improve their current employability opportunities or future employment chances. The project will concentrate on Luton's most deprived 11 wards, covering the north and south of town.
The Luton Street League project falls within the Council's Community Local Led Development (CLLD) strategy produced through consultation with those who work and live in Luton. The CLLD sets out a vision and action plan centred around six strategic objectives that all address in one way or another the many barriers to employment that certain sections of the Town's population face, as well as focusing on the importance of community cohesion in raising the outside perception of Luton to employers and potential visitors.
Head of Trust Kevin Thoburn commented: "The project has been a long time in the planning and we're grateful for the Council's support during 2017 in realising our vision and eventually making the project happen.
"The idea of a cross-town sports league has been on our 'to do' list for some time as we feel that through using the power of sport and our badge we have the most effective tool to improve community cohesion among young people in Luton.
"Eventually, our aim is to tackle some of the trickier problems in the town around gangs, knife crime and extremism that often attract young people who maybe feel excluded from the mainstream either in terms of getting a job, or better training or skills to get a job.
"It's probably our most ambitious project and initially we have agreed targets up to March 2019 with the Council, but fully expect the project to have a life of over four years which gives everyone half a chance of making a real impact and making real lasting changes for individuals in some of the most deprived parts of the Town."
If you would like to find out more about the 'Luton Street League' please call us at the Community Trust offices in Ely Way on 01582 561 622.
EFL TRUST KIDS CUP FINAL AT HALF-TIME TODAY – THE ROAD TO WEMBLEY!
Today at half-time is the big school finals day for the EFL kids Cup with Luton's Pirton Hill Primary taking on Priory Academy from Dunstable.
The two teams qualified for today's final through our local county tournaments held across Bedfordshire, jointly organised with our local Schools Games Organisers involving almost 50 schools – so we are expecting a high quality final.
The Bedfordshire finals for the top eight teams were of a high standard and we are grateful to Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu and James Shea for coming along and presenting finals pennants on the day.
Every EFL club is involved in organising their local Kids Cup competition for teams representing schools at U11 level, and in each of the last three years, nearly 2,500 schools and 20,000 children have participated in these competitions giving them an incredible experience as well as encouraging them to maintain that elusive healthy lifestyle 'thing'. Our winners from today will go on to represent the Hatters at the Regionals, and should they progress, the National finals at Wembley at the Checkatrade Trophy Final in March.
Before that the winners of today's final will proceed to the area final to play the winning school from Barnet, Cambridge, Southend, Stevenage, Colchester, Ipswich Town and Norwich City with the overall winners proceeding to a regional North v South final with the eventual final to be played at Wembley Stadium.
Last year our two time representatives from Arnold Middle in Barton reached the last stages only losing out in the last game from appearing at Wembley – let's hope one of today's finalists can go one better!
Good luck to everyone playing in today's final!