Creating a safe community space and getting the neighbourhood together

The Peel Project is a trusted community organisation in Hull that provides a range of activities, workshops and events to encourage confidence, self belief and aspiration.

Based in one of the most deprived areas in the country, in the midst of a local park, The Peel Project focuses their work in promoting wellbeing and equality to people from diverse communities in Hull.

They also work alongside local policy makers, public sector organisations and decision makers to do this work collectively and collaboratively having a positive impact on the lives of people from all backgrounds living within the most deprived and diverse areas of the city.

Wanting to make social change

Salem Ali is the founder of The Peel Project. He often played in the park, but saw lots of anti social behaviour; dogs were fouling, kids were selling drugs and during the pandemic a local teenager was stabbed. Salem knew the ‘cries were there’ and he wanted to help make change.

Salem saw that kids were coming to the park, but they were playing in their own groups. He realised the kids lived next to each other, but didn’t know each other, and there was a lot of animosity.

“The park was an unsafe place to come to, we needed to make it safe again, especially for kids.”

With many friends behind him, Salem started putting on lots of activities, getting kids off the street in a happy and safe environment. They generally have 18 sessions a week from football to boxing, both mixed and with girls-only sessions.

Salem, and the activities he put on, brought the kids together. He tells a story of 5 lads who were always street fighting, but had never heard of the Brazilian art of Jujitsu. He set about teaching them and after training hard he took them to a competition in Liverpool. They came back with 5 silver medals and a different attitude to life.

The project goes from strength to strength. He now has 15 volunteers, students and parents, all helping out and there is a feeling of family amongst the people in the area. People play and live together and positive change has come.

Bringing a community together

In 2022 Emma Hardy MP approached The Peel Project to host an event to celebrate everyone who makes up Hull’s vibrant, welcoming community and highlight how much we all have in common.

The Peel Project was awarded £1,400 from the Two Ridings Small Grants fund to support The Great Get Together.

This opportunity – to hold an event to bring people from diverse communities together – was very much in line with The Peel Project’s goals and they were delighted to be able to have an opportunity to collaborate with local MP on it.

With over 160 events being held nationwide to celebrate the late Jo Cox’s message #moreincommon, the event at Peel Park, Hull was part of a wider nationwide initiative of bringing people together in celebration and breaking down barriers.

400 people strong

The Great Get Together at Peel Park proved to be an amazing celebration as over 400 people from diverse backgrounds came together to enjoy food, a football tournament and kids activities. New friendships were formed, fun was had and everyone loved a free meal.

“Without the funding, we will not have been able to deliver the football tournament and a free meal.”

The event was attended by a variety of faith leaders, local councillors, East Riding High Sheriff and was featured on BBC news.

This had a positive impact on a disadvantaged group in society, bringing people together of many different faiths, languages and beliefs. It was especially joyous for local children as they were able to enjoy a free event within their own neighbourly friends and family.

Positive behavioural change | Dominque's story

Dominique is a mother of four and came to the Great Get Together because her kids go to Jujitsu at The Peel Project.

“My son had anger issues and I realised I needed to get him into something. He started doing Jujitsu, and then boxing, and now goes to lots of different events. His anger levels have now gone right down. Jujitsu is his space.”

Salem asked if I could volunteer, and now I do, so long as the kids are there.

“My daughter does Jujitsu too. She used to mess around, but now she is really into it. She loves it and is so competitive. It has really boosted her confidence.”

“The Peel Project is really good, and this event is really nice to get everyone together.”

Affordable, safe and great for all the family | Kadija's story

Kadija is a Muslim mum in the area who decided to get involved in Peel Project, initially coming to pray with her children.

A month or so ago she found out they did activities as well and found it has been great for the kids to get involved in over the summer.

“It’s wonderful. The children need to be engaged, they need to feel safe. Them coming here gives me peace of mind knowing they are well looked after. And it is cost effective too. They have done go karting and horse riding and not paid a penny. Usually parents can’t afford activities like this.”

Kadija and her eldest child both volunteer at the project now. She sees her child is picking up good skills through volunteering like communications and team building.

“The Peel Project is lovely to be part of.”

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