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Good practice case study

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Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council

North West

Local authority

U-Nite is a multi-agency workshop-and disco-based event led by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council which aims to build understanding between young people (aged 12-19) from different socio-economic groups, ethnic backgrounds and areas.
It puts young people in touch with officers from the borough's voluntary and statutory agencies in a non-confrontational fun environment and voices their concerns by passing on qualitative information to decision makers through the CDRP and other forums.
Young people are recruited to the event by the council's youth service from youth clubs, schools, the youth council and forums, youth offending team and youth inclusion projects.

Which groups does it relate to / who are the beneficiaries?

  • Young people

How would you categorise the project / what vehicle or theme does it use?

  • Education (includes schools, FE and HE)
  • Governance / civil
  • Housing
  • Interfaith
  • Regeneration
  • Training / development / capacity

Following the disturbances in Oldham in 2001, Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA) was approached by David Ritchie, author of The Independent review, to consult with young people on their perceptions of the causes of the problems and their recommendations for solutions. A clear message from young people, particularly in the Asian community, was: No platform in the existing educational establishments to raise concerns on issues that affected them and felt that no one would listen to their concerns. This, they felt, led to frustration and a feeling of isolation in their communities. Police attitude towards the Asian community, with allegations of police officers regularly swearing at young Asian males, often arose as a barrier to any positive relationships the police could have with the young people. This was reiterated by the white community with racism replaced with a lack of professionalism. Young people needed to be able to make sense of their anger and negative feelings towards the police and other agencies in a positive and constructive manner. By engaging young people in a process where they could raise their concerns and be part of local democratic and decision-making processes. Segregation in education was raised as the root of the problem by every group.
The first U-Nite event was held on 11 August 2004 and was funded by the Government Office for the North West, which had identified Rochdale as one of five areas in Greater Manchester deemed to have community conflict.

To build a mutual understanding between young people aged 12-19 from different socio-economic groups, ethnic backgrounds and areas of the Borough. To bring young people into contact with officers from across the Borough's voluntary and statutory agencies in a non-confrontational environment. To voice young people's concerns about day-to-day issues on a large scale using fun as a method of engaging and involving discussion with young people that usually would not mix. Provide the opportunity to consult with a cross-section of young people and pass on qualitative information to decision makers through the Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership (RSCP) and other forums as appropriate. Break down the barriers between young people, the Police and other agencies through positive contact in a non-confrontational setting in order to give a better understanding of each other. Provide a means of access for young people to services on behalf of the overall Strategic Group.
Young people were divided into nine teams of 20 unassociated young people and a youth worker, where a police officer or community support officer acted as the leader. The event included incentives, where marks were given for punctuality, behaviour, attitude, communication, understanding and teamwork; the best team won a white-water rafting trip to North Wales and the best individual in each team was awarded a £25 voucher.
The event is held in two parts: a series of workshops during the day and a disco in the evening, with meals and transport provided. The workshops tackled relevant local issues such as dispersal orders and anti-social behaviour procedures (facilitated by the council's Anti-social Behaviour Team and Greater Manchester Police); safe on the streets (facilitated by the Young Asian Women's Forum and the council's youth empowerment officer); understanding discrimination (facilitated by the Rochdale Centre of Diversity's senior diversity officer and Greater Manchester Police's community affairs inspector) and drugs and alcohol awareness (facilitated by the council's Drug and Alcohol Action Team and the Early Break Drugs Project). These events were supported by a series of partner exhibitions. Details of the workshops can be found at the end of this page.

ArmyRochdale Metropolitan Borough Council:
ConnexionsCommunity Safety Service
Early Break Drugs ProjectAnti Social Behaviour Team
Employment Links  Drug & Alcohol Action Team
Fairbridge in RochdaleYouth Service
First BusPositive Activities for Young People
Greater Manchester PoliceYouth offending Team
Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue ServiceYouth Inclusion Projects
Greater Manchester Police AuthorityNeighbourhood Wardens
HMP Buckley HallHousing Market Renewal
Hopwood Hall CollegeCommunity Cohesion Adviser
Network RailEducation Community Cohesion Coordinator
Pandemonium DrummingCommunity Sports and Leisure Coordinators
Rochdale Centre of DiversityStrategic Housing Community Development Officers
Young Asian Women's Forum 
A wide range of community groups

U-Nite has received funding from a range of sourced including:

  • Government Office for the North WestOldham & Rochdale
  • 'Partners in Action' (Housing Market Renewal)Rochdale Safer
  • Communities Partnership

It has also received free of charge the services and use of facilities of its partners and stakeholders including use of venues and transportation.
The average cost of the project is £12,000 per annum.


U-Nite has been successful in breaking down barriers and building relationships between a range of young people of various backgrounds, as well as with the police. It has also provided informal access for young people to a range of agencies. Furthermore, the event confronted serious factors which impede integration and cohesion such as anti-social behaviour, safety, discrimination and drugs and alcohol, increasing young people's awareness of these issues through facilitation provided by a range of relevant agencies.
The evaluation carried out by Greater Manchester Police Authority following the event found that U-Nite was viewed as an overwhelming success by young people and the participating agencies alike; the participants themselves felt that the event did break down barriers and increase their awareness. Part of this evaluation required participants to provide a vision statement for the young people of the borough and the Army donated a Mountain Bike for the best vision, which was:
"By working together, the young people of Rochdale can bring a rainbow effect to this town by showing off the exquisite diversity of the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic home of ours".
Additionally, local agencies increased their understanding of the needs of local young people, enhancing their ability in service provision; and all those agencies involved and other agencies not previously involved have requested invitations to the next U-Nite event on 9 August 2007, reflecting its positive impact which is further evidenced by the Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership underwriting the cost of this event.
The project is evaluated through the young people by GMPA both before and after the event. The event is also evaluated on an ongoing basis via the U-Nite Steering Group and the Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership.

On the way to the U-Nite event, young people were given a brief questionnaire to complete to find out what they thought the event was about and what their expectations were. Towards the end of the daytime U-Nite event, all participants were given an evaluation form to complete by way of gauging their involvement and satisfaction with the day. The questionnaire was informal in both language and format and used a variety of methods by which participants could express their opinions and experiences.
Pre-Event Evaluation
From the pre-event questionnaires, participants mostly thought the event was to enable them to speak to police officers and secondly to get to know each other. Half of respondents thought the event was somewhere that young people could get on whilst three quarters only 'sometimes' mixed with people from different backgrounds. Most felt fine participating in the event and were confident that they would be able to have their say.
Post Event Evaluation
The evaluation found that U-Nite was viewed as an overwhelming success by young people and the participating agencies alike; the participants themselves felt that the event did break down barriers and increase their awareness.
There would appear to be one overall message from young people:

"When young people have something positive to do and engage in, they feel better about themselves, that they are achieving something and are safe".

  • Identify and rationalise future funding and spend to make the project sustainable.
  • Continuous recruitment to the steering group (particularly young people) in order to update the event programme as some of the young people who attended previous events felt that some of it was becoming predictable.
  • Improve how we recruit Asian girls to the event. The event was attended by approximately one third each Asian males, white males and white females. There were no Asian females for the second year running and yet in both of these years one of the workshops has been facilitated by the Rochdale Young Asian Women's Forum.
  • For disabled participants, there were no problems encountered due to the small number involved and their willingness to participate. However, there is a need to plan for larger numbers, which will necessitate developing new procedures for some of the more physical activities.

Possible next stages

  • Consideration is being given to holding smaller events in neighbourhood areas to target hotspots and issues that concern the young people in them. This would be followed up by an annual 'coming together' event to celebrate the successes of the year. This approach will of course need additional commitment from partners, stakeholders and participants.
  • Development of sponsorship with local industry and commerce to improve sustainability and buy their commitment to the future of the young people and the Borough.

Contact for more information