Urban CrewASB | Community Cohesion | Environmental Sustainability | Health and Wellbeing | Isolation/Loneliness | Older People | Physical Environment | Young People
What is the project?
The project, launched with nine schools in 2011, is a joint initiative between Manchester Communication Academy and Northwards Housing. Fourteen primary schools in North and East Manchester have now signed up to the scheme, with eight to twelve children from each school taking part every year.
Who is the project targeted at?
Children aged eight to twelve from 14 different primary schools in North and East Manchester.
Why did the project come about?
The Urban Crew project evolved out of an earlier junior wardens’ scheme, which was brought to an end in 2010. However, following an outcry from the schools involved in the scheme who wanted the project to return, Ian relaunched the project as the Urban Crew.
Behind the Urban Crew project is the philosophy that by engaging young people and empowering them to take care of their surrounding environments, Northwards are able to build bridges between generations for the long-term sustainability of thriving and connected communities.
How was this project implemented?
Each school has an Urban Crew, who are kitted out in high-vis jackets and blue caps. A nominated Urban Crew Facilitator oversees the daily running of each crew. Their role on campus is to switch off lights, turn off taps, pick up coats and litter that has been left on the floor, and report hazards such as broken glass. They also keep an eye out for any children who are on their own, acting as the eyes and ears of the school community.
As well as promoting health and safety awareness, the project also promotes good citizenship by connecting schools with the 18 sheltered accommodation blocks that Northwards Housing manages. Children are given the opportunity to visit their nearest elderly residential home, where they take part in inter-generational activities, taking games to play, serving tea and coffee and, at Christmas, taking part in carol-singing.
How was this project funded?
Funded by Northwards, Manchester Communication Academy and the participating schools pay a small amount towards the scheme.
Outcomes so far
Teachers have noticed how participating in the crew has been “empowering” for the children, improving confidence and self-esteem. OFTSED reports have been similarly positive, singling out the Urban Crew project as an example of positive engagement with young people. Participation also gives each child taking part an ASDAN accreditation.
Since the Urban Crew project began there has also been a reduction in anti-social behaviour towards the sheltered accommodation blocks the children visit, and those who live in them. The children now realise that the buildings are people’s homes, while the elderly residents, who were once intimidated by the young people, feel connected and sympathetic to them.
“The project allows us to build this bridge at an early stage,” says Ian, “giving the children a respect for their community, pride in their surrounding environment and understanding of good citizenship.” The project continues to reap benefits even after the children have left school, because, as Ian explains, “these are our tenant’s children and many of them will be our future tenants.”