Prince Harry visits community sports projects in Wigan

Published 06 July 2016

Prince Harry continued his programme of supporting projects that promote sport as a means for social development when he visited three community-based sports organisations for young people in Wigan. The visits gave Prince Harry a further insight into some of the great work that is taking place around the country by community groups, who are developing the life chances of at-risk young people through sports and leisure activities.

Two of the organisations he visited are supported by Sported, one of the leading Sport for Development Charities in the UK that specialises in supporting the growth and sustainability of community sport clubs.

The first visit of the day was to Cast North West which was created in 2006 to provide a venue where angling can be used as a tool to enhance the employability and educational opportunities of disadvantaged young people, many of whom have faced severe personal challenges and who have been hard to reach at school or at home.

The organisation was created by Mr. Neil Farnworth, who previously sat on the local restorative justice referral panel for youth offenders. Through Cast North West, he is able to provide a way to support young people who are at risk of falling out of education, training or employment.

Prince Harry toured the UK's first indoor angling centre, complete with stocked ponds, classrooms and a canteen, and met some of the young people supported by the centre. The site has now expanded to include a fisheries and agriculture social enterprise, as well as educational facilities, through which young people can gain qualifications and work experience.

Next stop was The Blair Project at Three Sisters Racing Circuit where Prince Harry joined school children with special educational needs or disabilities, as they become the first in the country to race their own computer designed race karts using new 3D printing and digital manufacturing technologies.

The ProtoGP Schools Kart Challenge involves 12 pupils from two schools, forming two race teams. 

The Blair Project, a social enterprise, has been backing the pioneering project. It uses motorsport as a tool to engage and enthuse young people to pursue jobs or apprenticeships in science, technology, engineering and maths.

This pilot project intends to unlock the hidden talents of young people who have special educational needs or learning disabilities and who are at risk of under achievement as they prepare to enter the local labour market. In addition to learning digital manufacture and design skills, the teams will receive relevant careers information and guidance to help them progress into employment or apprenticeships.

This is the first time a 3D printed kart has been made and raced in the UK. Following testing, the karts will go on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester in July as part of a special schools event for European City of Science.

Sported have supported The Blair Project through two volunteer mentors, who have helped with operational tasks such as developing a business plan, and funding presentations. The Blair Project plans to roll out Proto GP in other schools in Wigan and the north-west later in the year.

The last visit of the day was to Wigan Youth Zone, a purpose-built youth facility in the heart of the town centre, that provides a safe and fun environment for 8 – 19 year-olds, or anyone aged up to 25 with a disability, to use in their leisure time. His Royal Highness toured the facility, part of OnSide Youth Zones, a national charity creating a network of modern and affordable leisure facilities for young people across the country.

Wigan Youth Zone is open every day and has over 5,000 members. It offers over 20 activities each day ranging from football and climbing to music production and employment mentoring. Their objective is to provide opportunities for young people around Wigan to come together to meet friends, enjoy new experiences, learn new skills and access the Support they might need to develop their potential. The Youth Zone is supported by Wigan Council and local business leaders.

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