“It’s amazing, brilliant and outstanding… I love the Street Soccer Programme”
This week marks the halfway point for the second Gillingham FC Street Soccer programme, currently being run in partnership between Gillingham FC Community Trust and the Street Soccer Foundation.
Through incorporating football coaching, education, and mind-set training, the 12-week Street Soccer programme develops core life and employability skills, helping disadvantaged 16-24-year-olds achieve positive social change in their lives.
“We achieved solid outcomes from our inaugural programme with Gillingham FC, with eight young people graduating the course” said Keith Mabbutt, CEO of the Street Soccer Foundation.
“Three young people went on to secure jobs, four became appointed Ambassadors, and one is currently going through their professional coaching badges with a view to becoming a fully qualified football coach. We have a terrific new group of young people this time round too, and we’re hoping for similar positive achievements when they graduate in mid-April.”
Community Coach Dan Blewett, who leads the football coaching side of the programme, has already seen growth in this cohort’s participants. “Since the beginning of the programme, the participants have had a fantastic attitude towards learning and developing,” he said. “Already we’ve seen improvements in their basic football skills, as well as their overall fitness. The six weeks have flown by, and the participants have improved week after week – on the pitch and in the classroom!”
The Gillingham FC Street Soccer programme works to support and develop young people in Medway and across Kent who are currently experiencing homelessness and unemployment.
Nationally, more than one in seven young people are currently unemployed in England and the number of young people who are homeless has tripled since 2014. In the Medway region alone, there are almost 1,500 young people currently claiming unemployment benefits.
Reece is one young participant on the Street Soccer programme who found out about the course from his local Job Centre. He currently claims Universal Credit, but joined the programme because he wants to develop himself and learn more skills.
“I am finding the programme excellent, and it has really helped me develop my own skills” he says. “They plan each session very well and I hope to be able to become a coach on graduating.”
Other young participants say the programme allows them to make new friends whilst providing them with a happy and positive environment. One member of the group, Liam, said: “It’s amazing, brilliant and outstanding… I love the Street Soccer programme and would recommend it to anyone!”
Up next for the course participants is a visit from two employers, Metro Bank and IPS International, as part of National Apprenticeship Week. Both organisations will speak with the group about existing opportunities and how they can be applied for.
According to Government research, three-quarters of SMEs who employ apprentices report seeing improved productivity.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Robert Halfon, said: “Apprenticeships give people of all ages and all backgrounds the skills they need to succeed. That is why more than 90% stay in employment after their scheme ends.”
Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman said: “Taking on an apprentice makes good business sense. Small firms that do this provide young people with excellent practical on-the-job training, but also see a positive impact inside their own businesses. I encourage all small businesses to think about how apprenticeships might work for them too.”
Street Soccer CEO Keith Mabbutt is confident that with the help and engagement of the local Kent business community, the programme can achieve some fantastic results once again.
“Now we’re at the halfway point, we start to turn the key in terms of getting the group to really start thinking seriously about what they want to achieve from the course. We’re a team together, but fundamentally our goal is to achieve a positive outcome for each individual.”
For further details about the Street Soccer Foundation please visit www.streetsoccerfoundation.org.uk, or click here to find out some ways you might be able to support the Gills Street Soccer programme.
SAVE THE DATE! The Street Soccer team is holding a fun Street Soccer Quiz Night for all Gills fans and local businesses on TUESDAY, APRIL 18 2017, 7pm for a 7:30pm start. There will be a cash prize for the winning team and lots of other exciting prizes to be won on the night too! For details on how to enter your quiz team please contact Rosie Paterson on firstname.lastname@example.org. More details will be released soon, but spaces are limited so get in touch ASAP. The Quiz will take place at The Star Meadow Sports Club, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, Kent ME7 2AA.