The small charity making a massive impact

Left to right Phoenix Gough (11) with Leigh Park based PCSO Jim Elgar (27), and Harley Weetch (12)  (150299-9795)
Left to right Phoenix Gough (11) with Leigh Park based PCSO Jim Elgar (27), and Harley Weetch (12) (150299-9795)
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It started as the dream of an international entrepreneur who wanted to give back to the estate where she grew up.

And, in a little under 18 months, Big World Impact has gone from being an ambitious notion to a busy, working charity that is making a real difference to Leigh Park.

Businesswoman Jo White spent £100,000 getting the charity off the ground, but is now taking more of a back seat as the organisation goes from strength to strength and seeks money from other sources.

The premise of the charity is fairly simple – to improve the aspirations of the young people of Leigh Park, often known as the ‘second biggest housing estate in Europe’.

The charity offers free activities across a range of sports and arts disciplines, as well as personal development opportunities, for any young person aged between nine and 19 who lives or is educated in Leigh Park.

Sessions take place during the school term and during school holidays for 46 weeks of the year.

Young people can sign up themselves or be referred by other organisations.

The scope of activities is diverse.

In the past year, scores of young people have taken part in football tournaments, basketball, boxing, and arts and craft activities.

The charity teamed up with the police for the ‘Pimp Ya Bike’ project earlier this year, where dozens of children learned how to maintain their bikes and the importance of road safety.

Last month 14 young women completed hair and beauty workshops with salons in Leigh Park.

Recently the charity worked with ex-drug dealer Paul Hannaford to help educate young people about the dangers of getting into drugs, knives and gangs.

But these schemes are just a taste of what’s to come.

The charity aims to work with Havant Borough Council to create a state-of-the-art sports facility in the heart of Leigh Park.

Julian Wadsworth, who was awarded an MBE for his work on the young people’s Respect Programme – which worked with Portsmouth FC, the council and the Royal Navy – is the frontman of the charity.

‘We are still in our infancy,’ he says.

‘We are only 16 months old. I did not expect to achieve what we have achieved in terms of some of the outcomes and partnerships.

‘It’s far exceeded my expectations.’

He said the charity is offering something that is not being replicated in very many other places.

‘It’s a small charity with a big impact,’ says Julian.

‘It’s a unique service. We’re offering a really structured sports and arts programmes.

‘You don’t really find it going on in Hampshire – London, yes. In Hampshire, these sorts of programmes are few and far between.’

New figures from the police suggest the charity is indeed having a ripple effect.

Anti-social behaviour in the Leigh Park council wards has reduced by around a fifth between 2013/2014 and 2014/2015.

While the work of the Havant Neighbourhood Policing Team has contributed to this, Julian believes the charity is helping to improve the lives of all residents in Leigh Park.

And the positive vibe will only gather momentum over the years, he says.

The charity worked with up to 250 children a week over the summer, but with about 4,500 children between nine and 19 in Leigh Park, there are still many more to reach.

The charity is teaming up with many other bodies to run the scheme, ranging from Havant Borough Council to the Royal Navy.

‘We want to raise everybody’s aspirations so we can get everyone to reach their goals,’ says Julian.

‘We are looking to increase the confidence and employability skills of young people going forward.’

It’s all very well what the adults say, but the real barometer of success is the viewpoint of young people.

And they are full of praise.

Tayah Winslade, 16, has been on the Big World Impact Youth Forum since summer last year and helped to make two short films.

She was runner-up in The News We Can Do It Awards for Hero of The Year.

Tayah says: ‘Being awarded runner-up is a dream come true to me and I have to keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real.

‘I would like to say a massive thank you to BWI for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to take part in numerous activities.

‘Being part of the BWI, Leigh Park Youth Forum has increased my confidence and allowed me to put all my thoughts and feelings into inspirational films that raise awareness, making a difference to the community and supporting other young people.’

Her mum Tarnya Winslade adds: ‘BWI has helped Tayah overcome some challenges within her life.

‘The support has boosted her confidence and has allowed her to have a positive outlook and to realise, with determination, courage and hard work, anything is possible.’

Julian hopes the new sports facility, if it comes to fruition, will bring 
many more children on board.

He adds: ‘Young people will feel it’s their facility because it’s in the community rather than on an education site.’