Burton Albion’s Impact In in the Community is Worth Millions

BURTON Albion Community Trust’s impact on the wellbeing of the people of East Staffordshire has never been more needed and an impact study has shown that when it really mattered the charity was there to help.

In any normal year, BACT’s reach into the community, its ability to help and motivate people and its position at the heart of the community is always there to be seen. But add in a pandemic that has had a serious impact on people’s physical and mental health, finances and employment prospects and that help was needed more than ever. Now, the evidence of an independent impact report has showcased all the good work BACT does. As well as supporting the NHS with the Pirelli Stadium acting as a vaccination centre, BACT has notched up more than 1,000 volunteer hours, delivered 4,147 care and activity packs, 752 emergency food parcels and even 23 weekly dog walks.That’s all in addition to BACT’s normal programmes, which reached 6,781 participants in 2019/20, including 4,603 schoolchildren. During the same period BACT’s direct economic impact was measured at £2.6m, £842,000 of which was through employment.

The numbers matter, but it’s the benefits felt by the participants that is BACT’s real reward. Whether that’s physical or mental wellbeing, individual or community development, BACT has delivered.

Head of Community Matt Hancock said: “Back in September 2019, we were excited about what we were going to achieve in the final year of our Inspiring our Communities strategy. The year started brilliantly, and you will see throughout the impact report the difference we have made largely thanks to the efforts of our fantastic staff.

“I am always proud of being involved in Burton Albion Community Trust but from March 2020 onwards I have never been prouder of our achievements. The Board of Trustees, led by John Jackson, and Chairman of the Football Club, Ben Robinson, have completely embedded Burton Albion into the community response when our communities really needed us.

“The pandemic has caused much distress, upset and pain for so many people across our communities but the way both BACT and Burton Albion FC responded from day one has made a huge difference to lives across East Staffordshire and the surrounding areas.”

BACT’S Chairman John Jackson is delighted that the impact report shows just how important the charity is to the area.

He said: It is with great pride we are able to evidence through this report that, despite the devastating impact of Covid-19, we are making a difference in our communities. This report is external evidence that our programmes do change lives and although many programmes were adapted to respond to the rapidly changing circumstances, we have maintained a focus of high quality throughout.”

The report was compiled by EventID Sports Consulting Ltd on behalf of Burton Albion Community Trust. Read the full report here

Louise Williams: The EFL Trust is proud to be part of tackling the nation’s obesity crisis

We know that in the UK, 63% of adults are overweight and that countries with high levels of overweight people, such as the UK, have seen the highest death rates from COVID-19 and we are encouraged to hear the announcement that the Government will be investing £100 million into tackling obesity and supporting people to lose weight.

The last 12 months have been a difficult time for those who are overweight. The emerging evidence that obesity and excess weight is a major risk factor of serious illness or death from COVID-19 while many weight management services were forced to stop, gyms and leisure facilities closed, and community support facilities temporarily paused has created an ongoing issue for individuals, local communities and the NHS.

At the EFL Trust, we recognise this and as part of our ‘Stronger, Healthier, More Active Communities’ strategy we pledge to support people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, access the support they need, and enhance the quality of life for those living with health conditions such as obesity and obesity-related conditions like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

One of the ways we are currently achieving this is through our EFT Trust FIT FANS Programme. Currently being delivered across almost half of the EFL Trust network, FIT FANS uses interest in football to attract adults aged 35-65 to a 13-week healthy lifestyle programme delivered by coaching staff at their local professional football club charity. Despite the disruption of the past 12 months, we have seen some staggering outcomes in terms of improvements in weight loss, physical activity, diet and psychological wellbeing.

  • Over 1,600 individuals have accessed the programme
  • Average weight loss for males in our first cohort was 6.2kg with 17% moving to the BMI weight classification below, significantly reducing their risk of obesity related conditions
  • These results were also reflected in the female cohort where we see 24% achieve a clinically significant weight loss of at least 5% of their starting weight
  • Inactivity in males shifted from 42% to 15% and in females from 47% to just 13%.

It is an aspiration of the EFL Trust to see this programme delivered across the whole of our network, which will enable us to reach millions of people who would benefit from making a positive change towards a healthier lifestyle and decreasing their risk of poor health and in turn reducing the burden on our NHS and health services.

The next cohorts of FIT FANS is due to commence this spring, to find out if your local club is involved or to find out more about the programme please visit https://www.efltrust.com/fitfans/

 

Football Clubs Support COVID Vaccination and Testing Programmes

Throughout the COVID pandemic Football Clubs and their charities have continued to support their communities, making 940,000 food deliveries to those in need, tackling loneliness by making over 280,000 calls and doing thousands of garden gate visits.

 Over the past few weeks, there has been an increase in the number of EFL Club stadia and community venues being used as vital COVID-19 vaccination centres, testing sites and training hubs, as part of the League’s ongoing commitment to supporting the NHS in the fight against coronavirus.

Mike Evans, CEO of the EFL Trust comments,

“We are so proud of how EFL Clubs and our network of Club Community Organisations are, once again, stepping up to help their communities however they can. We have football stadiums and community facilities being used for testing and vaccinations, staff conducting COVID tests, marshalling car parks at vaccination and testing centres, arranging appointments and transporting vulnerable people to get their vital vaccinations. These are all activities that they weren’t previously trained to do, but they have adapted impressively and are providing the services that their communities now need.”

Clubs including Plymouth Argyle, Bristol City, Oxford United, Huddersfield Town and Colchester United to name but a few, have transformed their stadiums into NHS vaccination centres, delivering immunisations to key workers and some of the most vulnerable people living in our local communities.

Organisations like St John Ambulance are also making use of the large open-spaced facilities at EFL stadiums, to train volunteers to assist in the vaccination programme. Since the start of the year, Stevenage FC has welcomed more than 30,000 local people to participate in the St John Ambulance training.

With so many EFL Clubs situated at the heart of their community, their stadiums have already played an important role since the pandemic began in providing easy access to COVID-19 testing for those living locally, with drive-through and walk-in testing sites in place at Charlton Athletic, Burton Albion, Bristol City, Swindon Town, Blackburn Rovers, Doncaster Rovers and Preston North End to name but a few.

Staff from various EFL Clubs and their Club Community Organisations have also received relevant training to support with the testing and vaccination programme – from carrying out COVID-19 testing to assisting with the transportation of local residents to vaccination sites.

Here are some examples of what is going at Clubs in our EFL communities around the county:

 Charlton Athletic: Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s health team is working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s public health team to run a Community hub which is responsible for co-ordinating a huge range of COVID response services. This includes lateral flow testing, with the Trust responsible for the co-ordination, management and delivery of two testing sites in Greenwich where many thousands of tests have been conducted so far.

The Hub is also heavily involved in the vaccination effort, supporting the bookings of vaccinations in Greenwich and arranging transport for vulnerable older residents to attend their vaccinations.

 Burton Albion: The Pirelli stadium has been running a drive through testing programme since April 2020. This was predominately swab testing key workers who have displayed COVID symptoms or who live in a household where someone has symptoms. In November the Stadium started to be used for the lateral flow testing that helps establish how embedded the virus is in the community. Recently staff from both the Football Club and Community Trust have completed training to permit in-house lateral flow testing at the Pirelli Stadium.

The Trust is also managing the coordination of staff and volunteers involved in the vaccine roll out for residents of East Staffordshire alongside NHS and Public Health staff. Over 20,000 doses have already been given out as part of this programme, which is set to continue until at least the end of March 2021.

Peterborough United: Peterborough United’s Foundation have been supporting local residents and GPs with the vaccination roll out. The Foundation staff have been transporting local residents to and from vaccinations and are providing staff to help marshal car parks, handing out relevant leaflets and assisting in the vaccination recovery areas to ensure patients are waiting the required 15 minutes post vaccine as a safety measure. Staff are now fully trained to support and carry out testing as and when required.

Nottingham Forest: Forest’s Community Trust have been providing staff to support the coordination and operations of two vaccination centres. In January, these staff provided over 60 hours of volunteering which will rise to 144 hours this month.

Bristol City: Since the start of the lockdown back in March 2020, there has been a mobile COVID testing centre set up at Ashton Gate Stadium. More recently the Stadium has become one the first seven vaccination hubs across the UK and had distributed more than 20,000 vaccinations since it was set up in January.

 Swindon Town: Foundation Park, Swindon Town Community Foundation’s facility, was brought into operation as the first asymptomatic testing centre in Swindon.

 Blackburn Rovers: Blackburn Rovers Community Trust have transformed the Darwen End Stand of the Ewood Park stadium into a Community COVID testing hub and are running a Rapid SMART testing centre. Operated by trained staff from Blackburn Rovers Community Trust, local residents can visit the community hub testing centre, with no appointment necessary.

Doncaster Rovers: One side of Doncaster Rovers stadium has become an NHS test site for pre-op patients. This takes them away from hospital and therefore relieves pressure on the NHS. The other side of the stadium is being used is a COVID vaccination centre. Club Doncaster Foundation is heavily involved in coordinating the recruitment of volunteers for the effort in partnership with other local organisations.

 Preston North End: PNE’s Community Education Trust are supporting the City Council’s testing programme. Both Club and Trust staff have been trained by the military to undertake the lateral flow test. This will enable the testing site in the City Centre, which is designed to provide the test for employees of essential businesses who are still operating, to remain operational in the coming weeks when the military are going to be stepping back from their involvement.

Tranmere Rovers: Tranmere Rovers work closely with Wirral Council and has been part of a humanitarian approach to COVID-19. The Club has continuously been a testing site when required since September 2020 and has also provided trained stewards to the testing sites and emergency food hubs when the council did not have the required staff in terms of qualifications, experience and volume.

Colchester United: At Colchester United, Club and CCO are working side by side, but in different ways to support the vaccination effort. Vaccinations are taking place at Colchester United’s Jobserve Community Stadium, whilst as part of the community organisation’s outreach work, CCO staff are volunteering at the local primary care centre supporting the vaccinations effort.

 

Football Club Community organisations expand Coronavirus community care thanks to Barclays Donation

EFL Football Clubs in Portsmouth, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Nottingham have been awarded a collective £400,000 from Barclays to feed hungry people, combat loneliness and ensure that these vital services continue to be available as we eventually move out of the pandemic.

The Football Club Community Organisations are amongst 100 UK charities to be awarded a £100k donation from the ‘Barclays Community Aid Fund’, designed to support COVID-19 relief work in local communities. The programme, which forms part of their wider COVID-19 Community Aid Package, focuses on supporting UK charity partners who are meeting the immediate needs of people in communities, including low income families, those facing financial hardship, isolated elderly people and key workers.

The 100k donation has allowed Pompey in the Community to continue its co-ordination of food deliveries for the vulnerable, isolated and needy.  To date more than 4,600 people have benefited from their food parcel deliveries.  In addition, the funding will allow the charity to enhance its socially distanced activities such as ‘pop up’ afternoon tea, hot meal deliveries and interactive Zoom sessions, which will not only support the charity’s immediate response but ensure projects become embedded and will continue in the future.

Clare Martin, Director of Community Projects at Pompey in the Community, said: “This funding has really supported us in providing the city such a vital and impactful service during the Pandemic. Our provision is continually developing in direct response to the needs of the city and the continually evolving situation. It’s been a real privilege to be able to support so many people.”

The donation to MFC Foundation will be used to fund the continuation of its work of distributing food parcels to those who need it most at this time. Working with the Food Poverty Partnership, the Foundation will also ensure that the funds are used to enhance sustainable food options in Tees Valley for the foreseeable future, ensuring that there are accessible and affordable options available for local people.

Helena Bowman, Head of MFC Foundation said: “This is a significant investment for MFC Foundation and will make a huge difference to individuals in our community who, unfortunately, are in a position where they require support with food. We will ensure that this funding is used to sustain a long-term impact.”

In Sunderland, the funding will support the award-winning community charity to connect with 5,000 households in Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham over four months who are facing, or who are already experiencing these challenges. Thousands of care packages will be created to include food packages and resources for families/individuals experiencing financial strain, including access to free online cooking courses to teach them how to cook healthy meals on a budget, as well as access to free weekly challenges to encourage people to stay active whilst staying safe.

Foundation of Light Chief Executive, Lesley Spuhler OBE said, “Our region has some of the poorest communities in the country. Since the crisis hit in March, we have been working incredibly hard to support some the most vulnerable and ensure we can keep them physically and mentally active. It is absolutely imperative that we continue to help those who most in need; not only those in deprived areas who are facing an incredibly tough winter, but also those who have found themselves financially insecure as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Nottingham Forest were delighted to receive the significant donation, which enabled them to transform the level of strategic support they have been able to provide for the people in their local community with the greatest need, including major healthy food provision for children, families living in temporary local authority accommodation and vulnerable people of all ages who have been in need of regular food supplies and essential household items throughout this emergency period.

Graham Moran CEO, Nottingham Forest Community Trust said, “The Barclays donation allowed us to focus resources and services where they were needed most and played a vital role in support of the amazing private, statutory and third sector response to the Covid-19 emergency across Nottingham.”

Nigel Higgins, Barclays Chairman, said: “COVID has created an unprecedented social and economic impact in the UK, with many experiencing greater hardship due to the crisis. Incredible charities, such as these Football Club Community Organisations, have been playing a vital role in the UK’s response to the pandemic, ensuring urgent help reaches those most in need of support. As a bank we have been doing all we can for our customers, clients and colleagues, and we hope that by partnering with these organisations and many other charities across the UK, collectively we can ensure that as many people as possible in the communities in which we live and work are supported through this crisis.”

How Foundation 92 has helped Aiden take the next steps in his career despite the pandemic…

By his own admission, Aiden was in a difficult position during his education. Mixing in the wrong circles and being involved in anti-social behaviour, he became disengaged within his career. After dropping out of college and with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, his prospects became bleak.

“During COVID, there was absolutely no opportunities for me,” Aiden said. However, after realising his passion lay with sports coaching, he was introduced to the Foundation’s Traineeship Programme – an education course to improve the employability skills of young people throughout Salford and the whole of Greater Manchester. “I got the opportunity here at Foundation 92; I’ve always wanted to work in sport and help people.”

Throughout the 12-week programme, Aiden discovered a newfound passion for youth work and in particular the Foundation’s one-to-one mentoring course for young people living with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). After developing his key skills, Aiden will now be beginning his full-time role as education assistant at Foundation 92, kick-starting his career within the industry.

“The work placements in particular have given me a chance to enhance my skills, such as teamwork and communication. My confidence has shot through the roof and it’s given me the chance to learn new skills and even meet new people, so it’s benefitted me a lot.

“I’ve always wanted to work with and help people through sport, so I feel like I can progress from education assistant to maybe running my own classroom in a few years, so I feel like I’m in a very good position.”

Football Clubs Launch New Programme to Help Young People Find Employment

Six EFL Football Clubs are part of an exciting new programme which will provide 18-24 year olds with the key skills and experience to find employment.

The EFL Trust’s Training Ground programme is part of a new portfollio of programmes supported by with the Youth Futures Foundation. Initially the Community Organisations at six Clubs; Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers, Hull City, Oldham Athletic and Bradford City will target young people that are really struggling to get a foothold in the workplace. The initiative is aimed at 18-24 years olds that are furthest from the workplace and will help participants by enabling them to take on new education, employment or training opportunities leading to long term career progression.

Adrian Tallon, EFL Trust’s Head of Education and Employability said. “This is a unique opportunity for young people to overcome barriers and unlock their potential.  They will be supported through our Training Ground programme which takes a holistic approach to employment. The programme provides practical support and training, alongside mentoring and wellbeing activities that will increase the confidence and overall wellbeing of participants.”

The Youth Futures Foundation was established to find, fund, support and evaluate programmes which help young people to move into meaningful work. Unemployment amongst 16-24-year olds is currently four times as high as any other age group; those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds face the biggest challenge in getting a job.

Youth Futures Foundation’s Chief Executive, Anna Smee, commented: ‘We are delighted to support EFL Trust’s Training Ground Programme. Youth Futures Foundation is committed to a society where all young people have equitable access to good quality jobs, by identifying ‘what works’, investing in good practice and initiating new ways of working – to ignite systems change. This partnership will support our ambitions and help to deliver our vision.’

The Training ground programme presents an opportunity to gain accredited skills and qualifications combined with increased personal development, culminating in a  work placement. Additional support will be provided throughout by a dedicated mentor and a targeted health and wellbeing programme. Skills wise the programme will include the development of English & maths functional skills, digital skills, health & safety, money management and customer services. The programme will also include workshops covering personal development areas such as resilience, interpersonal and employability skills as well as improving the participant’s physical and mental health.

One young person who already benefitted from a similar EFL Trust Employability programme is Dominic Thicketts from Blackpool. Before Dom attended the 12 week traineeship programme with Blackpool FC Community Trust, he was unemployed and always at home feeling isolated, lacked confidence and had very low self-esteem. As part of the traineeship he successfully passed Maths, English and First Aid qualifications and undertook a work placement at Tesco. Subsequently Dom successfully gained employment with Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Dom comments, “I’ve never been employed and, so it was a really big step. However, Blackpool helped me with more aspects of my life than I could have actually hoped for, and I want to make them proud with what I’m going to accomplish.”

 

– ENDS –

 

EDITOR’S NOTES

Youth Futures Foundation is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established with a £90m endowment from the Reclaim Fund to tackle youth unemployment. Our vision is of a society where all young people have equitable access to good quality jobs. We aim to achieve this by identifying ‘what works’ to inform policy and practice, investing in proven approaches and evaluation via our grants programme and initiating new ways of working to ignite systems change. Young people are at the heart of our work with charities, local authorities, social enterprises, employers and government to help those who face the greatest disadvantage and discrimination to access and progress into meaningful work. For more information visit www.youthfuturesfoundation.org and follow us on Twitter @YF_Foundation

 

Apprenticeships lead to full time employment during pandemic…

Despite the global pandemic Walsall FC Community Trust have created 6 new jobs from their Apprenticeship Scheme.

Walsall have run a very successful Apprenticeship programme, in its varying guises, since 1989.  Currently 13 of the Trust’s 15 full time staff have come through the apprenticeship programme. This includes the current Community Director Adam Davy and the senior management team.

The latest six additions to Walsall’s apprenticeship production line joined the trust at the start of 2020. 5 of these Apprentice placements focused on the sports coaching aspects of the scheme and the final placement focused on media and marketing.

By the end of March 2020 the government placed the country in lockdown, effectively suspending all delivery of programmes for the scheme.  Undeterred, the management staff and tutors continued to support the Apprentices to complete their studies and all reach successful competition of their courses by August 2020.

Adam Davy, Community Director, said: “Our Apprentices were faced with 6 months of distance learning to complete their courses.  Unfortunately, they missed out on some of the practical experience they should have gained but we were so pleased with them for completing their studies during a difficult time and passing their courses with flying colours.  By September we were starting to return to session delivery and work on our Covid recovery programmes.  One of our proudest achievements of 2020, the most difficult of years, was to be able to employ all of them on full time contracts in September.”

Employing all of the Apprentices as Assistant Community Officers meant that they were fully capable of leading programmes and, along with the other existing full time staff, were able to deliver Covid safe sessions as the scheme was inundated with participants who couldn’t wait to return to our Sport, Education, Health and Engagement sessions.

Sadly, though, the scheme had to halt new Apprenticeship places as the country slowly began to get back to its feet.  This proved, in hindsight, a wise decision as the country entered 2 more Lockdowns during November 2020 and in January 2021.

During the 2 extra lockdowns 2 of the Apprentices moved to employment elsewhere as they adapted to life under Covid restrictions.  The 4 remaining staff each have a unique Apprenticeship story to share:

  • Daniel Jones joined the scheme straight after college, in September 2018, on a 2 year Apprenticeship.  Dan passed his 1st Year with distinction and successfully completed year 2.  He is a valuable asset to the scheme, operating as an Assistant Community Officer and delivering across a variety of projects.
  • Billy Cartwright is a previous participant on the schemes activities during his youth.  After starting a sports degree, Billy soon realised that the classroom based learning wasn’t right for him and looked for a more vocational training programme.  Billy transferred across to the Apprenticeship programme in September 2019 and became a full time employee on completion of his one year course.
  • Reuben Uppal also participated on community scheme activities at Walsall FC when he was younger. Following compulsory education, Reuben went on to complete a sports degree and had a passion for coaching.  He saw the Apprenticeship as an opportunity to gain more practical experience and a foot on the coaching ladder within a professional football club.  Reuben became a full time employee on completion of his one year course.
  • Jake Welch had been volunteering with the scheme since 2017 whilst employed in his family’s business.  Seeking a career change Jake opted to become an Apprentice for a year placement in September 2019.  Although already in his late 20’s, and older than most Apprentices, Jake saw the opportunity for a career change in to a professional football environment.  His hard work paid off when he was employed as Assistant Community Officer for Sport in September 2020.

Looking forward to a return to delivery in Spring 2021…

The Community Trust is currently working on a restart plan for 2021.  As well as looking at how they will safely return to delivery, once restrictions begin to be lifted, it will also be utilising the government Kickstart scheme.  5 new Kickstart roles are in the pipeline with a projected start date of April 2021.  Paul Larvin, Community Manager for Education will lead on the Kickstart programme and hopes that the Kickstarters can progress to become Apprentices in Autumn 2021;

Paul, said: “The Kickstart programme offers unemployed young people between 16 and 24 the opportunity to work within organisations and gain valuable work experience.  We see this as an opportunity to restart our Apprenticeship scheme by offering Kickstart places between Spring and Autumn 2021 with the intention of our Apprentice programme beginning in September or October.  Our aim is to recruit some passionate and enthusiastic Kickstarters and give them the opportunity to access the Modern Apprenticeship places that we plan to advertise later in the year.  It’s a win, win situation and will help to rejuvenate the Apprenticeship programme so that we can continue to offer this excellent provision and asset to the scheme.  As difficult as the last 12 months have been we have continued to look for the positives so that we can continue to support the community that we serve.”

 

The Joy of Moving Programme launches a virtual ‘Winter Games’

Following a successful virtual Joy of Moving Home School Festival in the summer of 2020 where over 250,000 children got involved, the EFL Trust and Ferrero have launched a new virtual ‘Winter Games’ pack which will help inspire children to get moving in the toughest months for activity levels. Read more

Jack Beetham: My apprenticeship at the EFL Trust has been life changing

‘Build the Future’ was the theme for National Apprenticeship Week last week, encouraging people to consider how apprenticeships help individuals to build the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career.

The Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, Gillian Keegan opened up the week saying, “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to learn while you earn, opening up new and exciting career paths that can transform lives.”

This has certainly been the case for me.  Before I started at the EFL Trust in 2018,  I was doing a BTEC in Business Studies at Cardinal Newman College and had no idea what I wanted to do…. I was just living for the weekend. I felt lost and this lead to me going down all the wrong paths in life, I was slowly going off the rails and as a result my mental health was suffering massively.

I had reluctantly applied to University, knowing I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, just because it seemed the ‘normal’ thing to do after college. Thankfully I saw the opportunity at the EFL Trust as Apprentice Administrator and was successful with my application. The Administrator apprenticeship was absolutely perfect for someone who wasn’t quite sure what they wanted to do yet. The role involved such a variety of work across all departments and so I developed a huge range of skills and got a really good understanding of how the organisation works. As my apprenticeship was coming towards an end, an opportunity came up in the Marketing team, as they were looking to take on an apprentice. I had done lots of work for Marketing and I really enjoyed it and so I jumped at the opportunity when it came up!

When I started at the EFL Trust, what stood out straight away was how nice and friendly everyone was, I felt part of the team straight away and this helped me settle into working life perfectly. Going straight into working life in an organisation like this gave me purpose each day and really helped me to establish routine with my life and fitness. This massively helped me with getting my life back on track! Not only did the routine help, but being around such genuine people all day in a professional but friendly environment really helped me mature and grow so much as a person. I really would say my apprenticeship has been life changing. I dread to think what my life could be like now had I carried on living the ‘student life’ over the past few years!

I feel that in school and college young people are pushed towards the standard University route. If anyone is not sure what they would like to do in life, I would urge you to avoid following a set path just for the sake of it and look into an apprenticeship at an organisation like the EFL Trust!

Apprenticeship helps Taryn Find Her Dream Job

For apprentice Taryn Follows, combining her passion for sports and working with children was something she was determined to make possible. Thanks to Wigan Athletic Community Trust’s apprenticeship programme, Taryn, 18, was able to turn her dream into a reality after joining the 18-month programme in September 2019.

The programme aims to provide youngsters aged 16-19 with opportunities to gain valuable experience of coaching in schools and community settings and on reflection she says was one of the best decisions she’s ever made.

Speaking during National Apprenticeship Week (8th-12th February), Taryn she said:

“When you leave school you could go straight into work, but I really wanted a practical approach to things. “There are many different pathways to go down but I wanted to continue to learn and get something out of it instead of just going into a job. “I’ve always had a passion for sports and working with children so by putting them together it gave me a dream job. I think my passion and determination to do it were the main reasons I threw myself at it. “Now having been here for 18-months it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my career and as a person too.

“I’m grateful for all the experiences and knowledge I’ve acquired and I can honestly say I’m a better person now than I was when I started. I’ve been able to focus on something that I enjoy whilst learning at the same time and helping other people. I wanted to do it for me but also to help others, to make a positive contribution but also get something out of it myself

“The whole experience has been incredible and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

The programme provides apprentices with the opportunity to work with head coaches from across the Community Trust and something Taryn believes will only benefit her going forward.

“Being on the apprenticeship has allowed me to come to work and enjoy what I’m doing and it’s been incredible to work with so many different people on different projects. You get a new perspective from them all and every session you learn something new and take something out of it whether that’s something from the lesson plan, the method behind it or the actual techniques and skills you’re delivering with. I think the skills I’ve been able to develop during the apprenticeship are priceless and will stay with me for the rest of my life, both on a personal and professional level. I can transfer them and apply them in everything that I do

“It’s been so positive to be able to work with coaches who have been in my position and been an apprentice too. They have been successful in getting full-time jobs with the Community Trust and for me it’s great to take on and adopt some of the ways they deliver. Every coach has a different style and technique when delivering so being with so many people you can pick that up.”

Asked about her aspirations for the future, Taryn hopes to continue her studies and her aspirations to become a full-time sports coach.

“The apprenticeship has enabled me to see things from a whole new perspective and have a better understanding of the careers available in the industry and the pathways I can take to get there. It has helped me to decide that sports coaching is a career I’d like to pursue with. I have an interest in sign language as well which is something I’d like to carry on with and eventually combine the two. I think the next step for me is university and getting a degree which could open up further opportunities in a full-time coaching role. I’m definitely passionate in continuing with sports coaching.

“I’ve loved the whole experience and it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s had the perfect balance of having your own responsibilities but we’d get help if we needed it. Although this year has been difficult with the pandemic, it has been incredible and what I’ve learnt will stay with me for the rest of my life.”