Walsall FC and Walsall FC Community Programme hosted Therese Coffey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, yesterday as part of a visit to the region highlighting the government Kickstart scheme.
We were also joined by Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, as well as members from the EFL, West Midlands Combined Authority and the Homeserve Foundation to discuss Kickstart and see some of Walsall FC Community Programme’s new staff in action.
Kickstart is the government’s flagship programme, aiming to boost the career chances of young people at risk of long-term unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government-subsidised jobs aim to give people a vital first foot on the jobs ladder while supporting local businesses.
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, said: “Credit to Walsall FC and the EFL Trust for stepping up and giving young people an opportunity to kick off their careers and reach their goals. I encourage more employers to join Kickstart and become part of this national effort.”
After a sit down discussion, the group were shown around some areas of the Banks’s Stadium before heading to meet a handful of Kickstart staff.
Through the scheme, Walsall FC Community Programme have employed an Assistant Groundsman, four community coaches and two marketing officers.
One of our coaches, 20-year-old Jenson Jones, found it challenging to find employment but Kickstart has given him the opportunity to get real life coaching experience.
Jenson said: “I’m really enjoying my new role and working alongside enthusiastic coaches that have a genuine love for the game. Trying to secure a job during the pandemic was extremely difficult but Kickstart has given me a chance.”
Jordan Franklin is assisting with media and marketing at the Community Programme, and found gaining employment hard after graduating from university in 2020.
He said: “I’m excited to be in a good role with a reputable organisation. To be able to put that on my CV will be really beneficial because I’ll be able to apply with more confidence after gaining this experience.”
Community Director, Adam Davy, added: “It’s a real boost for Walsall Football Club that the Secretary of State has been able to see the impact Kickstart is already having on our group of young recruits. The scheme compliments our Community Programme which harnesses the power of sport and football to impact positive social change.
“The initiative has provided the club with an excellent opportunity to support youngsters in the community as we resume activity.”
The roles at Walsall FC have been made available by the English Football League Trust, which is acting as a gateway organisation for over 65 clubs.
Mike Evans, CEO of the EFL Trust, said: “The impact of COVID-19 on our young people is clearly very significant and we are delighted to be able to offer opportunities to young people in our communities through the Kickstart programme.
“A key part of our strategy at the EFL Trust to raise aspirations and realise the potential within our communities and a scheme like Kickstart enables us to have a significant impact on the young people who need our support most right now.”
To find out more about the Kickstart scheme, head to www.gov.uk/kickstart.