Getting Out for Good action-research project works with at-risk young women and girls across Greater Manchester to understand the challenges they face in their local communities and to help them build positive social networks. By minimising harm from negative peer-networks, the project hopes to enable them build confidence to make choices away from risky situations or behaviours, serious youth violence or gang-influence.
This youth focused project aims to boost the aspirations of young women and girls through sport and arts with support from their peers. Activities include boxing and fitness, football, drama and film-making with each activity leading to nationally recognised AQA accreditation.
Researchers from the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University are working in partnership with local voluntary groups and statutory agencies for the Getting out for Good project, which is funded by the Comic Relief international programme from the Tampon Tax fund.
Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Dr Deborah Jump, said that women can be involved or used by gangs in a number of ways, from participating as members to facing sexual exploitation:
“Typically, it is usually males who are thought of when we talk about gangs and their impact, but many women are affected. The area of gang-involved women is massively under-researched and, consequently, a lot is unknown but the impact is no less harmful. We want to change that. We will support the young women to develop positive choices away from gangs. Often they can’t remove themselves from their gang network – they may be related or connected in other ways – so we want to introduce positive elements into their network to empower them.”
Lecturer, Dr Susan O’Shea, said:
“The issues these girls face are extremely complex and we hope to offer a suite of activities to support change in these. The idea is to create a legacy and provide a knock-on effect whereby other young women can learn and resist the temptation to become gang involved. “They can then build a legacy for themselves and their community by introducing positive elements to their networks. It is an incredibly powerful idea.”
Four similar projects are taking place across the UK, two in Colombia and two in South Africa. The wider transnational Comic Relief project is called I define Me and the learning from all projects will feed into a final research-informed framework aimed at assessing how girls and young women are impacted by youth violence, gang-influence and complex social needs. The project hopes to find out what works to help bring about social and personal change in different cultural contexts
The Manchester Metropolitan team will work with up to 80 women in the region, creating a legacy of engagement documented in film, creative outputs and more sustained long-term participation in activities in their own communities. In the summer of 2020 all participants will have the opportunity to showcase their new skills, celebrate their successes together with family and friends and to receive their AQA awards at a Festival of Achievement at the University.