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Uniting the Movement - A Place Making Approach in Liverpool

This blog explores the 4 key principles we use when supporting areas with their provision using a PlaceMaker approach.


We will provide examples of how we’ve done this in our ‘Liverpool RISE Up’ programme which has received funding for the 2nd and 3rd phase of the programme from Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and Liverpool City Council following a successful first phase.


Our 4 key principles are:

  1. With, not to

  2. Empower and upskill the workforce

  3. Teacher agency

  4. Sustainability and successful system partners


1. With, not to

Our first key principal is any partnership we develop with an area has to be that the programme is driven by local voices, based on local need.


When we first started working in Liverpool, it was imperative that we listened before we spoke, and developed a deep understanding of what was strong in the area as well as exploring opportunities to develop provision further.


In Liverpool, that meant listening to brilliant local teachers and leaders, valued colleagues like Chris Price from Liverpool City Council and Judith Bairstow from School Improvement Liverpool, Liverpool School Sports Partnership and Julie Taylor from the national award winning HEARTS project. 


We intentionally set aside time in meetings to listen to get to know our schools, young people and the city.

We have spent time learning about the history of the city and visiting key landmarks like the docks, the cathedrals, the Liver building, Goodison Park, Anfield, Sefton Park and the Cavern club.

We have walked and driven around school catchment areas and listened to teachers and young people to gain an understanding of the lives of young people who we are fortunate to serve.


One of the most moving times in the programme was spending time with the inspirational Louise Mansell, from Kings Leadership Academy Liverpool, where she showed us the housing conditions that some of her young people are living in, and also some posters that her young people had created showing what were the best bits about living in their area and what they didn’t like so much.


As a father and someone who is committed to transforming young people's life chances it was incredibly emotional.

We created a shared draft vision for Liverpool and then refined it together. It quickly became apparent that Liverpool’s programme needed to be driven through PE rather than the wider school.


The refined vision we all created was: 

As we move into the next phases of this programme, we continue to reflect and ask all our partners whether the vision is still right, and whether aspects need amending.


2. Empower and upskill the workforce

The next phase of the programme was to upscale valued colleagues we partner with, by providing training on our ‘RISE up’ early intervention mental wellbeing and our ‘Trauma Informed PE’ teacher training courses.

Trauma-informed PE is establishing a psychologically safe and supportive environment within Physical Education classes, specifically tailored to students who have experienced trauma. 


This approach centres on acknowledging the profound impact trauma can have on students' behaviour, learning, attendance, and overall wellbeing, prompting us to adapt our methods accordingly. 


It emphasises prioritising relationships, fostering empathy towards students, integrating movement to facilitate emotional regulation, and incorporating play infused with care to support students in their journey of recovery. 


It is about managing behaviours that we find challenging without retraumatising our young people, but maintaining the high standards we want and need for our young people.


By embracing these principles, we can create a nurturing space where students feel understood, valued, and empowered to thrive despite their past experiences. You can read about why this is important in our 'Beginners guide to Trauma Informed PE' here.


The courses come with reflective tasks and editable resources so colleagues can tailor them to the needs of their young people in a time efficient manner.


Valued colleagues then have a consultation with us at the end of the courses to ask any questions they may have and discuss implementation in their specific setting.  We are also on hand throughout the programme to provide support and bounce ideas off, in person and online.  



3. Teacher agency

No one knows children better than their teachers and families who are with them every day. Therefore, it is imperative that colleagues we work with have the agency to implement our programmes in a way that best suits their needs.


We ask colleagues to implement the programme in the one way they think is best for their setting and then we create a case study based on the impact of their work. This process of completing the training, implementing and measuring impact is approximately 90 days.

The results were fantastic, resulting in 4 brilliant case studies, you can read them here! We then hosted a celebration event to celebrate our brilliant young people and their fantastic teachers.



The schools we partnered with in the first phase continue to adapt and build on their programmes in new and exciting ways using a timeline that matches their busy schedules rather than being dictated by us. How they have each taken their programmes forward has been inspiring.


The results have been stunning resulting in funding for eleven additional schools to join us in the next phases.


4. Sustainability and successful system partners

As we move forward with the programme, we are continually listening to local voices to shape how we work to meet local needs, building relationships with system partners like the brilliant Anthony Judge at YST and Maxine O’Neil at the HEARTS Project to enhance each other’s work and to create sustainable outcomes that will continue to make a difference for the young people of Liverpool in the future. 


We have collaborated with our system partners at the Youth Sport Trust and Liverpool School Sports Partnership to map out how we have worked together to implement a multi agency Trauma Informed PE approach in Liverpool.

Thanks go to Jimmy McGinn at Liverpool School Sports Partnership and our own Vicky Marshall for creating this diagram explaining how we are catering for the young people of Liverpool with differing needs.


An Invitation to Collaborate

The Liverpool RISE Up programme exemplifies our PlaceMaker approach, creating a locally driven, sustainable, and empowering environment for young people.


You can read about a similar programme that we have created in partnership with Norfolk County Council here.


We invite strategic partners across the country to join us in making a difference.


For more information or to express interest in partnering with us, join our waiting list here.


Have a brilliant week!


P.S. Subscribe to our newsletter here for the latest wellbeing insights.

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