Street Soccer Academy is renowned for providing immediate support for some of the most destitute and ‘hard-to-reach’ individuals in our local communities. We regularly provide emergency food provision, clothing bundles and referrals for emergency shelter for those on the streets.
Recently, however, I have been encouraged by the continual stream of information I have been sent from our regional managers and volunteers throughout the region when it comes to progress being made in the lives of our lads. We always intended to provide a ‘leg-up’ to disadvantaged people and cause them to reconsider previous aspirations that failed to materialise rather than getting into cycles of repetitive negative behavior that causes them to become over reliant on us indefinitely.
Many of the men we currently work with have struggled to achieve any form of qualification and have prematurely concluded that education is not for them. This results in lack of opportunity for employment as many of the basic prerequisites are missing when they apply. Basic numeracy and literacy are commonly lacking which immediately closes the door on what would otherwise be attainable job options. We have moved quickly to bridge this basic requirement by working closely with partner agencies in this area.
What I have found astounding however is that we now have a number of individuals across the North West who have enrolled on college and university courses. Just recently we have had our lads enroll on Gym Instructor training courses, hospitality, leisure and tourism courses, painting and decorating apprenticeships and even a mechanical engineering degree. The most astounding story involves a man from Salford who first connected with us just 12 months ago at an emergency night shelter and now finds himself as an undergraduate at university! These new developments represent a significant point for us as an organisation.
We recently hosted an ‘Awareness Day’ at ASDA in Bolton where the Bolton public generously donated unused suits, trousers, shirts, ties and shoes. These clothing items will be made available to our lads as they gain interviews for education courses and job interviews. The arrival of these clothing items is very timely as it further removes another barrier that could prevent achievement in these areas.
Being able to demonstrate how we can help journey people from the point of despair where they require immediate help and support to being in a position of empowerment, with increased control over their lives shows how as an organisation we are constantly improving our reach and capability in providing long-term solutions in conjunction with short-term emergency help.
I’m greatly looking forward to hearing that Street Soccer Academy has it’s first graduate in the coming years!