Football Beyond Borders and Pro Bono Economics: Investing in trusted adult relationships

A new research report by Football Beyond Borders (FBB) and Pro Bono Economics (PBE): Investing in trusted adult relationships has found that:

  • FBB’s project to provide a trusted adult for young people in secondary schools has resulted in wellbeing benefits to society worth more than £5.5 million. 
  • The typical trusted adult practitioner delivered almost £150,000 of benefits or £109,000 of benefits per school.
  • The average student involved in Football Beyond Borders’ programme in 2022/23 benefited from improvements in wellbeing worth around £2,300 - the equivalent of £8,700 per at risk student

The findings of the report were featured in The Guardian

You can watch a live stream of the launch event on the PBE YouTube channel here.

The research was possible thanks to the rigour and quality of FBB’s data collection. This meant an evaluation of the FBB programme could be conducted in partnership with #BeeWell and their comprehensive dataset of young people’s wellbeing in Greater Manchester. 

Research by Prof Neil Humphrey and Qiqi Cheng at the University of Manchester found that the FBB programme delivered a 17% or 2.4 point improvement in SWEMWBS for FBB’s “at risk” student group. This translates to a 0.6 point improvement in ONS Life Satisfaction. This is a substantial increase – roughly the same as UK adults experience when they go from being unemployed to employed. 

The study shows that the target group of participants maintain their levels of wellbeing while individuals with similar characteristics who didn't receive FBB's support from a trusted adult experienced a decline over time. The study shows that FBB’s work compares favourably to the average effects of targeted, school-based mental health interventions. 

Professor Neil Humphrey, Academic Lead for #BeeWell, said: 

"Our analysis shows that at-risk young people who took part in Football Beyond Borders experienced a significant improvement in their wellbeing one year after starting the programme relative to a group of otherwise similar children. This is great news for schools looking for interventions to support young people's mental health, and showcases the utility of the #BeeWell dataset in helping organisations understand how best to support young people’s wellbeing."

Jon Franklin, Chief Economist Pro Bono Economics, said:

“The Football Beyond Borders programme demonstrates how new ideas and creative approaches can help to tackle the current crisis in children’s wellbeing, offering good value for money for society. 

“Better understanding and valuing the wellbeing impacts of programmes working with children and young people could help ensure that policies and interventions to tackle children’s wellbeing will be prioritised going forwards. It is essential that the country invests in thecollection of high-quality wellbeing data for children, like the one pioneered by #BeeWell,  and support greater investment in young people’s lives.”

What next?

The report estimates up to 800,000 children in the UK may lack the support of a trusted adult at school today. 

FBB is committed to expanding its impact and ensuring every young person has a trusted adult at school. Through continued collaboration with schools, communities, charities, funders and policymakers, we hope to achieve this vision. 

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