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16 January 2019

The 12th Man project aims to give participants the skills and confidence to challenge negative health behaviours.

  • The 12th Man scheme aims to challenge and improve health habits.
  • Programme is backed by both Wigan Council and the Premier League. 
  • Please click here to view a copy of the 12th Man evaluation case study.

Young people in Wigan are being inspired to challenge and improve other people’s health habits thanks to an innovative programme backed by Wigan Athletic.

The 12th Man Health Champion scheme, which is delivered by the club’s award-winning charity Wigan Athletic Community Trust, works with youngsters aged 12-19 over a 10-week period talking to them about the importance of positive physical and mental health.

The project, which is backed by Wigan Council and the Premier League, aims to give participants the skills and confidence to challenge negative health behaviours among friends and family.

Over the last 12 months, 134 young people have completed the scheme and according to research carried out by Wigan based health consultants Progress Health Partnerships, the link with Wigan Athletic is vital to the messages having a lasting impact on the young people.

Mike Parker from Progress Health Partnerships, who carried out the evaluation said: “The outcomes achieved clearly demonstrate changes in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours relating to health and wellbeing, and there is good evidence that participants are using this learning to educate and influence their friends, families and other people in their local communities.

“I have worked extensively to evaluate how professional and amateur sports clubs use their brand and reach to influence health and wellbeing, and Wigan Athletic, through the work of the Community Trust, are certainly one of the leading lights in this field.”

The report includes evidence that shows:

  • 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
  • 154% increase in moderate intensity physical activity (30 minutes or more) 4+ days a week

As well as changes to their own behaviour, the research claims the 12th Man project has enabled participants to become ‘Health Champions’ and to change the behaviour of people around them.

One young person said: “The programme has inspired me to teach my family and friends about health and I now know where to go for help and who I can ask for support.

“I’ve shared lots of information with them such as how to swap foods for healthier results like exchanging fizzy drinks for water and I have also been researching healthier meals to bring to school, so my friends can be inspired to eat healthier too.”

Another key success identified by the research was the strong partnership between the Community Trust and Wigan Council’s Public Health team.

During the project selected young people are given the chance to complete the Royal Society of Public Health (RPSH) Level 2 training in ‘Understanding Health Improvement’ which is delivered in partnership with Wigan Council.

Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health at Wigan Council, said: “We are committed to empowering young people to take charge of their own health and already we’ve seen so many Young Health Champions making a difference. The 12th Man Health Champion scheme is a great example of how getting the right support early in life will help to make a difference as their generation gets older.”

The 12th Man Health Champion scheme is part of Wigan Athletic’s Kicks project which provides free football and sports opportunities to over 1,000 young people in the Wigan area each year.

Kicks is funded nationally by the Premier League and through Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment Fund.

Please click here to view a copy of the evaluation.

For more information about 12th Man or the Kicks project please contact Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s Senior Community Development Co-ordinator Steve Eastwood on 01942 318090 or email

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