Lifeline Thru Football targets long-term unemployed

The aim of the project Lifeline thru Football is to focus on hard to engage, long term unemployed individuals who were also in challenging housing situations – usually homeless. The aim was to enhance their potential, help them to qualifications, to gain employment and to improve their housing situation. This is through improved self-esteem, establishing leadership qualities through team work and improving life skills.  A group of ten participants were involved in the programme.

They were trained in Level 2 NVQ qualification in Event Stewarding, an emergency aid qualification and worked through a conflict management programme. The academic and social delivery was wrapped in football with the days starting with 90 minutes of skills, drills and small sided games. After lunch and an afternoon workshop the ended with 3 and 5 a side matches.

Key partnerships were formed with external bodies including the Jobcentre, Probation Service, Harrogate Homeless Project, Lifeline Harrogate, Fairfax Community Centre and Halo Learning Direct. Local employers were also involved in the project, with a view to considering the candidates for future employment.

The work with the Probation Service was to tray and open up opportunities for individuals held back from gaining employment due to their situation. Harrogate Homeless Project clients currently in a Hostel environment were also targeted.

The pilot scheme saw 6 of the 10 participants secure employment within 3 months of completing the programme. All of the participants agreed with the evaluation statement. “My confidence and self-esteem have improved significantly since I joined this Programme.” Two of the participants improved their housing circumstances moving from a Hostel environment to a permanent residence. The group moved to being more assured and confident people appreciating more fully their abilities to move forward and improve their personal situations.

One young man who joined the programme was living in a Hostel environment, was long term unemployed and on benefits. Within three months of completing the programme he had secured permanent residence and full time work with a local employer. His self-esteem had improved significantly and he felt he had made friends with everyone involved on the programme and everyone at the football club involved in the delivery.

Lifeline thru Football is unique, wrapping academic studies in football and involving a steering group of key partners including employers.

Garry Plant, Chairman of the Community Foundation, said “Talking with the Jobcentre it became apparent that some of their clients continually failed to take up opportunities to gain work-focused qualifications. Similarly unemployed clients at Harrogate Homeless Project failed to engage in further education or employment focused qualification. The common rational seemed that the various courses on offer were being delivered in a classroom based environment, in a school, college or at Learn Direct offices.”

“By wrapping the academic and social delivery in football we created a unique experience and moved the initial focus away from “classroom” to “pitch”. The programme was delivered at The CNG Stadium and was supported by the club’s coaching and playing staff, no suits, no ties just tracksuits, boots, balls, bibs, cones and footballers.”

“The outcomes and results of the pilot scheme went well beyond our expectations and caught the attention of the Department for Works & Pensions who subsequently have gone on to fund 3 further programmes of work the first of which started in April 2015.”