Young people in north Northumberland have been reaching new goals after taking part in Go Lead, an introduction to leadership, delivered by the Newcastle United Foundation.
Fifteen young people aged between 12 and 19 from the Berwick area completed the course at the Swan Centre. Over the course of the two day event, delivered by experienced coaches from the premiership football club, the group learned a new understanding of how they can use leadership skills in day to day life or college lives. They also utilise the skills and knowledge they have developed to lead basic activity sessions, supervised by Foundation staff.
The initiative formed part of Kicks, a national programme delivered in Berwick by the Foundation in partnership with social housing provider Four Housing, whose aim is to engage young people in constructive activities, increase playing and coaching opportunities, break down barriers between the police and young people and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in the target area.
Kicks got underway in Berwick last summer after receiving a donation from Four Housing’s Community Development Fund. The programme takes the form of weekly sessions comprising football coaching sessions and educational sessions which focuses on other sport, music or developmental activities such as career development, healthy eating, drug awareness and volunteering.
So far the scheme has engaged 84 male and female participants from the area. Key achievements include the delivery of a drug and alcohol workshop to a number of participants after a football sessions.
Rhys Bloomfield, who took part in Go Lead, said: “Kicks has given me opportunities to not only play football but gain my Sports Leaders Qualification. Over the two days I have developed my skills and learnt a variety of new things to use whilst coaching. I enjoy Kicks because it gives me something to do and gives me a chance to play with people I normally wouldn’t.”
Laura Wilson, Newcastle United Foundation Project Co-ordinator, said: “We put a lot of effort into generating interest in Berwick Kicks before we launched, which resulted in record attendees on our first night. Since then we’ve seen attendances grow and grow. It’s important for us to keep the young people that come along engaged and to support their progress on and off the field. We’ve been really impressed by the group that signed up for Go Lead – they’ve worked really hard and it’s been great watching them showcase their skills while delivering a session to their peers.”
Not-for-profit housing provider Four Housing’s Community Development Fund was set up to support local projects within the Berwick Borough where they are responsible for 2,000 properties. Commenting on the success of the Kicks project to date, Gillian Buchan, customer engagement officer at Four Housing, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of the Kicks project to-date.
“The Sport Leadership course is another example of how the project is helping young people to achieve their personal goals; the fact that so many of them gave up their half-term to take part in the course is fantastic. Some of the young people have already expressed an interest in volunteering themselves in referee and coaching roles and I hope that this experience helps them to build in confidence and increase their future life chances.”
Kicks has received huge success nationally and has been recognised by the Audit Commission as a model of best practice. 42 Premier League and Football League clubs run a combined 112 projects across England, with 45,000 kids engaged in their local community in just one year and 85,000 personal outcomes achieved overall, including 5,500 educational qualifications.
For further information about the Kicks project or to get involved, young people can turn up to the sessions at The Swan Centre, Northumberland Road, Berwick upon Tweed on a Friday evening from 6pm to 8pm or can email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Four Housing, visit: www.fourhousing.co.uk.