North East Connected


Thanks to a new partnership between Newcastle United Foundation and Sage Foundation, a trio of teenage apprentices are on track to complete their apprenticeships after resuming their academic learning earlier this month.

Nicole Ainsley, Sean Brett and Joe Fell are combining on-the-job training with their education and despite the challenges from COVID-19, the group have helped out on several occasions with the delivery of food parcels to areas in need across Newcastle’s East End and have now restarted their learning sessions to ensure they complete the course.

The teenagers are the latest recruits to join Newcastle United’s official charity on a 15-month programme with each apprentice employed back into their hometowns to help the Foundation make a difference across the North East.

As community coach apprentices, Nicole, Sean and Joe will secure multi-sports coaching qualifications and desirable employability skills alongside their day-to-day working with more than 400 participants each week.

The group are the first apprentices to be supported by an innovative partnership bringing together Sage Foundation and Newcastle United Foundation to increase opportunities for fulfilment among young people in the region.

All Sage apprentices are employed in a real job while studying for a formal education following an approved study programme. With training delivered by Coach Core, Nicole, Sean and Joe are working towards their Level 2 Community Activator qualification one day a week at St. James’ Park.

Nicole Ainsley

Nicole first joined Newcastle United Foundation in her hometown of Berwick, volunteering her time each and every Friday night at Premier League Kicks sessions. Juggling education with a part-time job and working as assistant coach to Berwick Juniors Vipers, Nicole found balance are her dream job through the apprentice programme.

Nicole said: “It’s the perfect job for me because I work really well with young people and I am very passionate about sport. It’s the job I’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t know it existed until I started the apprenticeship.”

Sean Brett

Sean has spent his entire life around football, playing in Gateshead in first and reserve teams before joining Team Northumbria – Northumbria University’s football club. There, Sean helped his team earn promotion to the Northern League, winning the Northern University Premier League.

Sean said: “The apprenticeship is very different to what I’ve done previously. There are a lot of good people with a lot of different experiences and stories to learn from.”

Joe Fell

Before securing his apprenticeship, Joe worked on a voluntary and sessional basis with Newcastle United Foundation, helping run community programmes in Wallsend while also playing football himself.

Joe said: “It’s great to give back to the community and those less fortunate. It’s great having a job that’s also your passion.”

Elaine Flynn, Newcastle United Foundation Partnerships Coordinator, said: “We couldn’t be prouder of our three apprentices and all of the hard work they have put in to benefit the communities they grew up in.

“Thanks to our partnership with Sage and their invaluable support, we are able to train and mentor Nicole, Sean and Joe. They are working alongside our talented coaches and are already part of the team themselves.

“Our charity has a strong track record of offering apprentices full-time employment on completion of their apprenticeship and we hope to continue offering young people unique opportunities like this to help them achieve their potential with Sage.”

Each apprentice is supported by a dedicated line manager, able to guide the teenagers through the transition from education to full-time employment.

Debbie Wall, EVP Sage Foundation said, “Empowering and equipping young people for a bright future is one of Sage Foundation’s core focuses, and it is a real privilege to be able to do this in Newcastle, our spiritual home. Joe, Nicole and Sean have remained focused in these unprecedented times, achieving some great results for their community. We wish them every success ahead.”

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