Following the relaxation in lockdown restrictions in July 2020, Masoor Khan, coach at Easton Street Project in Bristol, set about plans to restart sessions. Having been unable to stay in contact with the Street cricketers, Masoor sent out a survey to parents before they returned to understand how the young people were feeling.

The survey revealed mixed responses to the lockdown says Masoor, “Some [participants] have come back with a new positive outlook because they have realised what priorities they have. On the flip side, we had a lot of kids who were getting quite angry during lockdown, they lacked motivation and confidence and were feeling lazy.”

At the first session back, the young cricketers were encouraged to chat to their friends and to express how they were feeling. Masoor facilitated the conversations using the Chance to Shine Street ‘Life Skills Modules’; designed to help young people to discuss important topics that influence their day-to-day life such as peer pressure and making plans for the future.

The ‘Life’s better with…’ module encourages young people to understand factors that can influence their mental health and self-esteem as well considering others’ point of view. “At first, we asked simple questions: ‘life’s better with or without chocolate?’” Masoor explains, “then we encouraged them to consider more challenging questions: ‘the impact Covid-19 had.’ We got them to ask questions themselves and it was a really good way to help them to open up and speak about what their lives have been like.”

Once they were back playing cricket, Masoor could also see the impact that staying at home had had on them: “It was pretty evident that the kids were just itching to get back outside, run around and speak to their friends. There were some who had definitely become quieter.”

The sessions were a welcome return to normality and Masoor soon saw the smiles returning to the faces of the Street cricketers. For the young people of Bristol, there was one question that was answered unanimously: “Life’s better with or without cricket!”