Project information

A Level Playing Field at BYZ

This project will provide full access to the wide range of sports and arts activities at Blackburn Youth Zone for disabled young people with complex needs in the borough by providing 1:1 support at no extra cost to the family, giving them the chance to meet new friends, try new things and have fun!

January 2017 - December 2017

Charity information: Blackburn Youth Zone

Blackburn Youth Zone logo
  • Need


    Families of children with complex needs tell us that caring for their child is a full time job and that personal budgets are insufficient to pay for weekly activity as most goes on respite care or residential services. Access to sports facilities is limited and expensive, meaning that many do not get the opportunity to increase their physical and mental wellbeing through regular exercise. They are often socially isolated and vulnerable, unable to achieve the same independence as their peers.


    This project will create 2560 hours of 1:1 support a year for disabled young people which they previously have not been able to access due to lack of provision. There will be a wide range of sports and arts activities on offer, tailored to meet an individual's ability or interests. By increasing their participation in positive activities, we will offer support and opportunities for young people with complex needs to make decisions about their life, grow in confidence and socialise.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Young people with complex needs will have new social networks and be more confident and independent.


    » With lots of sports and arts activities on offer, young people will be supported to make friends, have fun, get fitter, belong and find acceptance.
    » Our trained team of staff and volunteers will support young people to gain the emotional tools to build positive relationships with their peers.
    » The project will challenge non-disabled members to overcome preconceptions they have of disabilities and gain a sense of understanding and respect.

    Increased numbers of young people reporting increased levels of confidence and increased numbers displaying more confident behaviour and leadership skills, measured via surveys.

    Aim 2

    Young people with disabilities will demonstrate improved levels of physical and mental wellbeing.


    » By taking part in sports with the support of a member of staff or volunteer, young people will develop greater self-esteem and physical wellbeing.
    » By participating in creative arts, music and dance young people will develop movement and coordination skills and improved emotional wellbeing.
    » All of the activities will be person centred allowing young people with complex needs the chance to discover new interests and skills independently.

    Increased numbers of young people with complex needs regularly participating in sport and showing greater fitness and increased numbers engaging in new activities confidently.

    Aim 3

    All members attending BYZ will demonstrate better awareness of disabilities and achieve together.


    » This project will give young people with complex needs access to a fully inclusive environment in a facility which is adapted to meet their needs.
    » Engaging young people with complex needs in activities in a social setting with non-disabled peers, will change all young people's lives positively.

    Young people with complex needs will feel confident to access activities in a “non-disabled” setting and all sessions will be attended by young people of all abilities.

  • Impact


    This project will address the inequality currently experienced by young people with the most complex needs in being able to access affordable youth activities on a weekly basis. We will support each individual to gain self-esteem and exceed expectations associated with their disability, giving them the confidence to try and enjoy sports and activities and develop communication and leadership skills. These changes will be demonstrated via surveys, session and individual evaluations.


    There is the risk that we do not achieve a caseload of 16 young people requiring one to one support. We will deal with this risk by maintaining a referral process from the local SEN schools and Sencos at the local primary and secondary mainstream schools together with local agencies who provide personal assistants to young people in the borough. We will hold family sessions in order to promote the 1:1 support to parents who might be unsure about leaving their children in our care.


    We will communicate to donors via our website and other social media and a quarterly newsletter detailing progress of the project. We will invite donors to the Youth Zone to have a tour and meet both the young people and staff team so that they can see at first hand the impact of their donation.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £40,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £32,000 Staffing costs 1:1 support staff for 16 young people per week for 4 hours for 40 weeks a year at £12.50 per hour
      £4,000 Family events Quarterly family activities and celebration events for members to share experiences
      £4,000 Gym equipment Specialist disability gym equipment so young people can access the gym as much as their peers
  • Background


    Blackburn Youth Zone lies at the heart of Blackburn, a town which has one of the highest proportions of young people in the country but also where 26.2% of young people under the age of 16 live in poverty. The combination of poor housing, low incomes and child poverty means poor health outcomes for our children. Blackburn has over 875 young people who are registered disabled of whom 30% of our children are eligible for free school meals compared to 17% of those without SEN.


    Young people with complex needs will have the opportunity to engage in new activities and meet new people giving them the chance to gain in independence and experience improved physical and mental wellbeing. Their non-disabled peers will gain from a better understanding of disability and increased levels of respect.
    Families will benefit from from time off from the demands of caring to rest, spend time with other children or do the chores which are hard to fit around caring responsibilities.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The Youth Zone has good knowledge of the borough's young people and issues affecting them with an already established membership of 3,500 young people. We have been funded previously to provide this service but only during 3 or 4 events during school holidays. This was a huge success in creating a culture of inclusivity in the organisation and increased levels of confidence in young people. We now have 253 members with disabilities attending the Youth Zone and great relations with SEN schools.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Laura Walker

    Laura is our Diversity Club manager who supports the staff team and works with young people to make sure the programme is fully inclusive and fun.


Will pay for a young person with complex needs to attend BYZ for 4 hours a week for a full year

'My main wants for Ashton are for him to be safe and to be happy. He loves the Youth Zone and I only wish he could come more! Without it, I would be worried about lack of opportunities for him to socialise and try new things and he would risk becoming really quite isolated.'

Clare, mother of Ashton, member of Diversity Club