Skills, better health, qualifications, life saving knowledge, and crucially jobs have all been gained by the impressive graduates from a football-inspired employability course.
United 4 Employment is run jointly by the Newcastle United Foundation charity and social landlord Isos Housing.
In October 2014, the 11 participants met up as strangers on a Tuesday morning at St James Park, all nervous and wary of what the coming weeks would bring.
But now in January 2015, those 11 strangers have become friends, and bonded over their shared determination to learn new skills, get fit and healthy, and find the jobs they need to succeed in life.
They have enjoyed sessions on fitness and health; nutrition and healthy eating; first aid, and cooking on a budget, all aimed at making a difference to their lifestyle for the long term.
And vitally two of them have already found work, when the course has only just finished.
For all the participants, they not only benefit from the 10 week course, but also get another 10 weeks of support from the Newcastle United Foundation to help them find work.
Taking inspiration from the winning mentality needed to succeed in Premier League football, the U4E participants all put in the hours improving their skills ? and getting their mentality right.
This was reflected in an impressive attendance rate fo- the course of 89%.
The United 4 Employment course provides:
- A work placement for each participant, to get real experience
- Mock interviews, to help participants prepare for the real thing
- Sport and nutrition sessions, to get participants fit for life and work
Not only did the course get the participants on the road to a job, but everyone also received a pair of tickets to a home Newcastle United match and a home shirt as a reward for their efforts.
In total, the 11 participants in the United 4 Employment course have gained around 70 qualifications between them.
They came from across Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland, from Newcastle, Elswick, Wallsend, North Shields, Bedlington, Widdrington, Birtley, and Consett.
Richie Mitchell, community investment manager at Isos, said: “I never grow tired of hearing the fantastic stories from our courses with the Newcastle United Foundation.
“Some of the feedback has been fantastic. This is a chance to affirm our commitment to this course, and to endorse the foundation staff who do a fantastic job.
“Congratulations to David and Ian for securing work – and for all the graduates, this is not the end of the course, but the beginning of some new skills and the confidence to get the job they want.”
Sarah Brown, course tutor from the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “United 4 Employment is not just about the content of the sessions. The participants have all made friends, learnt skills, gained qualifications, learnt about interviews, met employers who could employ them in the future, and in two cases, got jobs.
“There is nothing they can’t achieve. They came here as strangers, but now they’ve got a network of people they can rely on when they need them.”
David Taws, 35, has been hired by Newcastle City Council to work in its CityBuild department after a successful work placement during United 4 Employment.
He will be working towards a Construction and Civil Engineering qualification, with two years of training, and the council says it has previously sponsored staff like David right through to degree level.
He said: “I will work on all council buildings and some owned by Your Homes Newcastle, learning about quantity surveying, and electrical and mechanical engineering, and I will attend Newcastle College on a Monday.
“I’ve been two years unemployed, including a period not being well. I got a lot of confidence from the United 4 Employment course. It made me realise that all the hard work I had done, was worth it.
“The job has taken a while to sink in, but now I feel quite proud. It’s a good feeling.”
Ian Watt, 52, has picked up two new roles – firstly as a team leader with catering company Sodexo, where he will work at St James’ Park on match days.
And secondly, like David, he will be working with Newcastle City Council, where he will be shadowing tradesmen on repairs and refurbishment work.
He said: “I will be shadowing, helping out with smaller jobs, fixing door handles, unblocking pipes, etc. I will be an extra pair of hands for them.
“This course has meant I’ve got back in the routine, getting up at a regular time, and now hopefully I will also be upgrading my skills.”
Before the course, Ian had been unemployed for three years having previously worked as a safety technician on cranes.
He said: “I took time out to look after my father, who was dying of cancer, and during that time my industry really changed. Suddenly you had to have a ‘ticket’ to say you could work at height – a CSCS construction card.
“This course has upgraded my health and safety knowledge, environmental awareness, first aid.
“I’m grateful for the experience, for the chance. It’s given me refreshed hope that with all the skills I have, I can prove myself to an employer, and I have a much better chance of getting gainful employment.”
Very soon after completing the first aid element of United 4 Employment, Ian was called upon to put his first aid training into use. He was riding a 21 bus into Newcastle, when an elderly lady had a seizure, and the bus driver asked if there was a first aider on board.
He said: “I was in the right place at the right time. The training just kicked in. We made sure she was OK, put her in the recovery position, got her temperature down, and sat with her til the ambulance arrived.”