Sport 4 Life aims to change lives of Manchester people through the power of sport. It is also changing the lives of young people through its work with the Future Jobs Fund programme.
Since 2005, the not for profit company has provided sports activities, exercise classes, and healthy lifestyle projects to deprived communities across Manchester and the North West region. It works with the public sector, charities and community groups to encourage people to participate in sport and improve themselves and, in turn, their community.
Company director John Dwan had seen the good the company's activities could do for communities, and felt sure it could have the same benefits for young people helping organise them.
"But as a small social enterprise, we simply weren't in a financial position to hire trainees," John says.
That's where the Future Jobs Fund came in. The government programme, which has now ended, provided £1bn to help create 150,000 jobs for 18 - 24 year old people who had been out of work for nearly a year. This includes 5300 jobs in sport and active leisure organised by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure.
All jobs created provided at least 25 hours of work a week, lasted for at least six months, and includex relevant skills training.
Sport 4 Life had the capacity to take on and mentor four Future Jobs Fund employees.
"We saw this as a real opportunity to get some additional staff to help deliver our services and provide these young people with work ready skills," John says. "We never would have been able to do this without the grant."
We help reduce paperwork
The company worked with SkillsActive and Job Centre Plus to draw up a contract, create job descriptions and advertise the roles.
Twenty people applied for the roles and, following a phone interview, John invited eight along to Get Active, a sports event for young people living in hostels, to see first hand what the job would involve.
"I've never employed anyone straight from unemployment before but I was pleasantly surprised," he says. "The four we selected were enthusiastic and reliable young men, wanting to work and willing to learn. They have been excellent"
Future Jobs Fund employees boost business
The Future Jobs Fund employees work across the business, from marketing and administration to events organising and set up.
Sport 4 Life has tailored the employees' training to suit their roles and career ambitions. So, along with the generic first aid and health and safety training, two employees are earning their Football level 1 coaching certificate, one is taking a gym instructor course, and one is taking a basketball and handball teaching course.
All have had the opportunity to work at major sports events such as the North West StreetGames Festival and the Manchester Urbanathlon, a unique multi-disciplinary city foot race.
"At the Urbanathlon, they worked right across the event - helping set up the route and the different marquees, manning the registration desk, using the PA system, and providing general event support," John says.
"Having the extra staff at events really helps with the logistics. The Future Jobs Fund employees added value to our business and made our work easier to do.
"Being involved in the scheme has also been a good exercise for us as a business. We've refreshed our induction programme and looked more closely at how we look after our employees."
Supporting employees into work
Sport4Life won't be able to keep the Future Job Fund employees on past the end of their Future Jobs Fund placement - the company just cannot afford an extra staff member.
But John hopes the mentoring, training and work experience he and Sport 4 Life's three other staff have provided will stand them in good stead for other employment.
"We're helping the boys develop their CVs, hone their interview techniques and develop action plans. We are doing as much as we can to help them move into meaningful work or college."