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14 September 2017

New research demonstrates impact of 12th Man health project.

  • The 12th Man project is funded by Wigan Council and the Premier League.
  • It aims to make young people aged 12-19 aware of negative health behaviours. 
  • A total of 30 young people have been named as Young Health Champions.

Teenagers in Wigan are being given the confidence to make better decisions about their health and lifestyle thanks to an innovative project being organised by Wigan Athletic Community Trust.

The 12th Man Health Champion Programme aims to make young people between the ages of 12-19 more aware of negative health behaviours and encourage them to take part in more physical activity.

The project, which is funded by Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment fund and the Premier League, has seen coaches from the Community Trust deliver these health messages to young people involved with its Kicks project.

Kicks provides free football and sports coaching to over 1,000 young people a year on evenings and weekends.

As part of the 12th Man scheme, coaches work with selected young people for up to 10 weeks and research carried out by Wigan based researchers Progress Health Partnerships is helping to show the impact these workshops are having on young people.

The evaluation has demonstrated that amongst participants there has been a:

  • 20% increase in amount of young people rating their health as good or very good
  • 78% decrease in young people with low mental wellbeing scores
  • 52% decrease in amount of young people who ate fried food and sweets as main type of snack
  • 28% increase in the number of young people who had consumed no alcohol in previous month
  • 60% of young people had improved their diet because of the programme
  • 154% increase in number of participants who took part in vigorous activity 4-7 days a week
  • 100% of young people increased their knowledge about diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol
  • 84% of participants confident they would maintain the changes to their lifestyle that they had made

30 young people have also been identified as Young Health Champions and in partnership with Wigan Council have completed an RSPH Public Health Improvement qualification that will give them the skills and knowledge to challenge poor health behaviours amongst their friends and family.

Ellie McLoughlin, 15 from Ashton took part in the 12th Man programme in May, and said: “The whole purpose of the project is for us to gain a better understanding of alcohol and drug misuse, sexual health and mental health.

“The coaches have been really, really good – I’ve learnt how to eat healthier and how to make benefits for myself in my own body, I’m no longer so insecure about my body so it’s been really good for me.

“It’s also been really beneficial for me because I’ve found places where I can go to get help and where my family can go to as well.”

Mike Parker, who carried out the external evaluation of the scheme, said: "It’s incredibly brave and refreshing for charitable sport providers to hold themselves up to external scrutiny and I’m delighted to have been allowed to undertake this rigorous process with Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s 12th Man Programme, and the impact of the project has been truly impressive.

“We found significant improvements in mental wellbeing, healthy eating and physical activity pre-and post programme compared to no change amongst the control group, and over 35% of participants went on to gain RSPH Young Health Champions qualifications and are now influencing the healthy lifestyle behaviours of friends and family.”

Through the Deal for Communities Community Investment Fund, Wigan Council has provided £45,000 of funding for the scheme over the next 3 years.

Director of Public Health, Professor Kate Ardern said: We really value the support of Wigan Athletic Community Trust who have always been supportive partners of all of Wigan Council’s health and wellbeing endeavours.

“The Community Trust have really embraced Young Health Champions as part of their ongoing work to improve the health of the community, so I really do pay huge tribute to them.”

For a copy of the evaluations, please click here

For more information about the 12th Man Health Champion programme, please contact Wigan Athletic Community Trust Inclusion Officer Rachel Scott on 01942 318 090 or e-mail

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