Enhancing Lives in 2016

At SSA we’re looking into 2016 with a huge amount of optimism. We expect to see a significant increase in the number of people accessing our services in the North West of England. We have firm plans in place for regional centre development throughout Greater Manchester and further into Lancashire and more medium term plans to grow our current presence in the North East. This increased activity will be in the guise of football and fitness based regional centres offering an opportunity to people who have become isolated from mainstream society to get reconnected and reintegrated into communities.

Last year ended in painful fashion for the Street Soccer Academy family with three of our service users sadly passing away. As we have spent time with the families of each of these three precious lads and shed tears with them, something in particular became very evident. All three families conveyed the same message when it came to the role that Street Soccer Academy had played in each of their lives. The families concerned emphasised how much the lives of their loved ones had been enhanced by being involved with us. They mentioned staff members and volunteers by name as they thanked us for the friendship, love and general care we had provided for each of them. One of the family members commented that attending a regional centre was the one good thing that his son had in his life that he enjoyed. A sister commented that whenever her brother disengaged from our support, his life rapidly went down hill until he re-engaged with us.

Over recent years we have received dozens of testimonies from service users claiming that they are still alive thanks to the interventions of SSA and the people involved. As much as these are quite mind-blowing statements for them to make we cannot take credit for a decision that someone else has made. The lads themselves must take credit for making great decisions through the empowerment that they have received to make such decisions.

Based on the families’ comments at the end of 2015 one thing we can claim is that we enhance the lives of those who choose to engage with us. These are the words of grieving parents, brothers, sisters and partners and aren’t offered lightly. We know we can’t ‘play god’, but we can seek to improve the quality of peoples lives and this is what we plan to do for those currently engaged with us and for those yet to be involved in 2016.

Together with our rapidly expanding LifeFit campaign that seeks to improve people’s general wellbeing we have every reason to be optimistic and expectant for a great future full of opportunity for our service users in 2016 as we look to add significant value to the lives of those we are privileged to serve.

Author Andrew Thorp

Andrew founded the Street Soccer Academy concept in 2005 and under his leadership the work has developed into an award winning registered charity and innovative enterprise. Educated at Loughborough University, Andrew has a BSc Hons in Management Sciences and has experience as a tutor and assessor at Salford City College, responsible for the delivery of an NVQ 2 qualification in Teaching, Instructing and Training. He is also a UEFA 'B' qualified coach and has vast experience working in the professional and semi-professional football world at Rochdale AFC, Leigh RMI and Trafford FC. It is through his experience in these fields that the accredited education programmes have been formulated in order to significantly enhance the opportunities of Street Soccer Academy beneficiaries.

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