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New Beginnings with Basketball and Barbering – New Projects from the Community Development Team

13 Jun 2022

Since the start of May this year, the Community Development Team’s new Youth and Community Development Officer Lee Hawthorne has been providing drop-in sessions in Leicester City offering young people with training in barbering and sports coaching.

These sessions, organised in partnership with some of Leicestershire Cares’ partner community groups, provide young people with an opportunity to learn new skills, prepare for employment opportunities, and share their thoughts and feelings in an open, inclusive environment. The projects are putting our "Power to Change" model into action, delivering a lasting positive impact in the lives of young people by joining up with them in an agile and holistic way rooted in partnership.

In partnership with the Somali Community Parents Association (SOCOPA) in St. Matthews, Lee has been providing six young people ages 17-21 with basketball coaching. At the end of May, the six attendees at the “SOCOPA Sports & Activities Group” successfully gained full accreditation in Multi Sports Coaching and first aid. This has enabled them to set up their own basketball training sessions on Saturdays, which roughly 40 more young people from the local community are expected to attend.

The SOCOPA Sports & Activities Group is testament to our view at Leicestershire Cares that bringing people with similar experiences together is an empowering experience that gives them a chance to develop and build relationships, networks and connections, and reflect on the community to which they belong.

Meanwhile, Lee has also been providing training at barbering sessions through the “Freedom Barbering & Grooming” project. The project is being run in partnership with the Freedom Youth Club, a Leicester City community group offering support primarily to unaccompanied refugee and asylum-seeking young people.

The Freedom Barbering & Grooming project provides young people with a valuable social space, using barbering skills as a shared interest. Young people attending sessions can improve their self-image, feel prepared for meetings, appointments, and job interviews, and discuss issues close to them with others in a safe environment.

Just last week, the project successfully trained one attendee so that he could provide his first haircut to another young person, enabling him to skill-share with other young people.

In addition, after recent communications with Belgrave Ward Councillor Nita Solanki, Lee received the go-ahead for a project to regenerate a public outdoor sports area in Belgrave. Leicestershire Cares will organise and support local sports teams to participate in a community tournament event.

Alongside Head of Community Development Neetu Squire, Lee has also established a promising link in Coalville. We expect to be able to report even more exciting news soon!

The Community Development Team endeavours to support young people from marginalised and disadvantaged communities with projects that can empower them, respond to the complexity of the problems they face, and involve them together in partnership for a transformational experience. We look forward to establishing further projects with our community group partners and create communities where everyone has the resources to realise their full potential.


Working with young people and seeing them get qualified and skill sharing with other young people is one of the most rewarding outcomes you can get from youth work. Leicestershire Cares has encouraged me to deliver outcomes that outlive my own input and hopefully leave a lasting positive change in the communities we work in. Working with the team to get these projects up and going has been amazing.

Lee Hawthorne, Youth and Community Development Officer

For more information about getting involved in our Community Development Work please contact:


Tel: 07834 181041