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04 Jun 2024

Gen22 and Sport 4 Life UK Inspiring the Next Generation

3rd – 9th June 2024 marks the annual celebration of Volunteers Week. This year, we spoke to Sport 4 Life UK about their involvement with Gen22.

Sport 4 Life UK is the leading sport for employment charity in the West Midlands. They provide opportunities for young people (aged 11 to 29) to prepare for and move into sustained education, employment or training by improving their employability and life skills, through a sports-themed personal development service. Young people can engage in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • One-to-one mentoring to provide support, assistance, encouragement and inspiration to find the right opportunities
  • Employability and life skills workshops to build on and develop essential skills to move closer to employment
  • Career service for secondary schools to increase attainment, attendance, positive behaviour, engagement and increase aspirations
  • Sport sessions to stay active, develop life skills and meet new people

Through the latest Gen 22 funding, Sport 4 Life UK have been able to support young people through their pathway to employment in order to be able to motivate, inspire and be a role model for the next generation of young people attending their services.

The recent funding round has enabled us to focus more on developing the essential skills of young people.

Nick Cheese, Sport 4 Life UK

What are the obstacles/challenges that you face as an organisation?

Youth employment is the biggest challenge that Sport 4 Life UK are trying to address across Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Closing the skills gap between young people and the expectations of employers is the key to enable both young people to thrive in the workplace but also to allow organisations to succeed in their fields. That is why, through our services (our employability & life skills activities in particular), we aim to give young people the opportunity to develop and showcase these skills through workshops, mock interviews and work placements.

Can you tell us about the Gen 22 funding you have received and the support you have delivered as a result?

Through Sport Birmingham, Sport 4 Life UK were granted £30,000 to support 30 young people in improving their future employability prospects through volunteering and social action opportunities.

Sport 4 Life UK have been able to support these young people in a number of ways:

  • Delivery of employability and life skills courses to learn and develop life skills – linked to the 8 essential skills on the Skills Builder Framework (speaking, listening, problem solving, creativity, leadership, teamwork, aiming high and staying positive)
  • Deliver social action activities in order to understand the issues and challenges faced by people in the local community
  • Gain leadership qualifications to be able to gain the confidence and knowledge to support the next generation of young people through physical activities
  • Provide work experience opportunities to further develop the employability and life skills activities that have been learnt during the previous activities and to improve their future employment prospects

Can you give us an insight into the impact of Gen 22?

We have been involved in the Gen 22 project since its inception and we have seen first-hand the impact that it can have on both the community and the young people that are part of the project. Our earlier funding focussed on community support and making a positive impact in the local area during the Commonwealth Games and after the unprecedented times of the outbreak of COVID-19. The recent funding round has enabled us to focus more on developing the essential skills of young people – giving them the opportunity to support their communities, become leading figures for young people, improve their future prospects and to become responsible for supporting the next generation of young people.” Nick Cheese, Sport 4 Life UK.

Sport 4 Life UK has seen some amazing benefits as a result of the funding received through the Gen 22 project. Through the work placement opportunities, 10 young people have delivered activities as Sport Coaches and a further 7 as Youth Engagement Officers. The skills and experience that they have gained has been invaluable and 5 out of the 10 young people that delivered activities within our sport services have gone on to be offered paid employment as Sport Coaches at Sport 4 Life UK. As well as this, 10 young people have gained Sport Leadership qualifications – 6 at level 2 and 4 at level 1. The young people have then been able to use the knowledge and skills learnt to support young people to engage in sporting activities in their local communities.

What advice would you give to other organisations working to support young people’s development within the sport and physical activity sector?

  • Giving young people the opportunity to showcase their skills through work placements and work experience is the best way to allow them to reflect on the impact that the skills building activities have had on their development
  • The impact that adding young people with lived experience to our coaching team has had on other young people has been important – giving the young people at sessions a role model to engage with on a weekly basis
  • The development of life skills is just as important as employability skills in helping young people into employment as it is these skills that enable them to sustain employment and succeed in their role

For more information about Sport 4 Life UK click here.