Concerned about damp and mould? Talk to us

Friday Night Lights: how sport is making Leith Communities safer

Leith Sports Centre Fencing2

In the heart of Leith, Edinburgh, a beacon of hope shines bright every Friday night, illuminating pathways for young people towards safer, more fulfilling futures. This beacon comes in the form of a ground breaking project initiated by the Leith Community Sport Hub. It's a story of collaboration, determination, and the transformative power of sport. 

Identifying the Need 

As discussions unfolded within the Leith Community Sport Hub, it became apparent that traditional sports clubs and Community organisations had a unique opportunity to address a growing concern: the vulnerability of young people aged 9-12 to criminal exploitation. 

Community police officers shed light on the trend of criminal gangs targeting this age group, often drawing them into organised crime and anti-social behaviour. Recognising a gap in existing prevention activities, particularly on Friday evenings, the hub made it its mission to provide a safe space for those who may be at risk.  

Leith Sports Centre Fencing

The Programme in Action 

The programme has now bounced into action - from 6pm to 10pm on a Friday evening, participants gather either at Leith Academy or the Community space at Easter Road Stadium, generously provided by the Hibernian Community Foundation. 

The evenings begin with food, courtesy of local charity Empty Kitchens, Full Hearts, before transitioning to physical activity led by member clubs of the hub. Football, rugby, fencing, and table tennis provide not just recreation but a platform for mentorship and guidance. 

Two dedicated youth workers, funded by Places for People Scotland through our Community Investment Fund, act as pillars of support, creating meaningful connections with the young people. These sessions are also a bridge for deeper engagement with local Community police officers, creating trust and understanding between law enforcement and young members of the local Community. 

Community-facing voices 

Adam Szymoszowskyj, the Community Sport Hub Manager, said “hearing the positive feedback off the back of the initiative really highlights the collective effort in driving the project forward, emphasising the spirit of collaboration among local partners.” 

Christopher Casselden of the Leith Community Policing Team said “the power of genuine engagement is second to none, these Friday night sessions offer a space for candid conversations and relationship-building in a neutral, relaxed setting.” 

Lewis Melee, from the Hibernian Community Foundation, echoed the above statements - “the victories of reducing anti-social behaviour and ramping up social inclusion among Leith's young people.” 

Hibs Stadium

A Glimpse of Success 

Early indicators of success are promising, with 84% of participants reporting improved connections with Community police since the project's launch. It's a testament to the importance of consistent, informal engagement in building trust within Communities. 

As the project continues to unfold, with waiting lists growing and demand soaring, it shows that there is hope not just for Leith but for Communities across the country with similar challenges.