Over the past twelve months, Street Soccer London has been linking up with influential partners in the local community in order to support our players both on and off of the pitch.
In that time, we have been delighted to develop a strong relationship with the Metropolitan Police, who have been working with us at a number events in order to confidence and overall relationships between players and the police. We spoke to Community Engagement Officer, Nigel Pearce, to find out more about the partnership.
“My role with the Metropolitan Police is primarily to improve the relationship between the communities that live and work within Lambeth and Southwark and the organisation I work for. This has been a progressive partnership with Street Soccer, looking to improve trust, confidence and overall relationships between those attending and the police.”
Nigel highlights that the Met’s visits to the Black Prince Trust allow the police to listen to young people but also have honest conversation about how relationships can improve. He says “I feel like by coming in to this environment, chatting about football or even joining in, means that the young people can see someone with similar interests behind the uniform.”
With the introduction of the Bootroom at the Black Prince Trust, Street Soccer are looking to have more frequent workshops with partners such as the Met Police. Nigel believes that the relaxed environment at our base is a strong benefit to the relationship.
“All the officers enjoy engaging with the players. By being seen on a more personal level, it allows more open and honest conversations, which can build relationships over time. We really value the power that sport has to open these doors and I believe that the programmes that Street Soccer deliver can change lives.”
Nigel acknowledges that unfortunately the Met Police have not always got things right, but believes that working together with the community, positive change is achievable.
“The promotion of positive interaction with police is a real progression. Working alongside SSL and the great work you are doing, we would love to be able to complement and support positive relationships and be able to address areas where we can improve. The willingness and openness from Street Soccer to provide these opportunities has been really appreciated within the organisation.”
Programmes Coordinator Jack Badu believes that this partnership has had a positive impact on players within the programme, highlighting that “The Met Police are a long way away from being trusted by all members of our communities. Our hope is to see a change with the voices of our young people amplified using our monthly Bootroom sessions.
The police are neither the solution nor the problem as together we need to build a community where police see our young people as just young people and we as a community know who to turn to for help, support, and advice. Building a relationship and getting to know officers on a first name terms in environments that are stress free is key to this”
Street Soccer London continues to strive for a healthier, safer and more inclusive community and believes that by working with local partners, the power of football can continue to change lives. All of our programmes are free, with drop-in sessions available for young people and adults, both male and female. You can find out more about them here.
If you are a local organisation looking to learn more about the work we do, then please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org