Football is helping jobless Sunderland young people find work

James Thompson and Andy Gray, right, from Sunderland's Street League.

James Thompson and Andy Gray, right, from Sunderland's Street League.

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A CHARITY is using the power of football to help unemployed young people find work on Wearside.

Street League, which is based at the University of Sunderland, works with jobless 16 to 25-year-olds, as well as young offenders and substance misusers.

Hellen Smith and Nathan Todd, have graduated from the Sunderland's Street League scheme.

Hellen Smith and Nathan Todd, have graduated from the Sunderland's Street League scheme.

Recent figures showed that unemployment in the city had seen a 24 per cent increase in the last year.

Running structured football and education programmes, the project aims to find people suitable work, education or training.

“We specialise in changing the lives of disadvantaged young people through the power of football,” said progressions co-ordinator James Thompson.

“It is my responsibility to deliver an eight-week education programme, known as an academy, and to help our participants progress into employment, education or training.”

Working towards official certificates, participants learn how to write a structured CV and complete application forms, as well as studying interview skills and body-language techniques.

They also learn how to effectively plan different sporting sessions and deliver them to groups from diverse backgrounds.

“This gives our participants a great confidence when talking to and meeting new people,” said James. “They also gain a basic knowledge of health and nutrition and emergency First Aid.”

James, who runs the sessions at City Space, said the project has gone from strength to strength.

The North East is bearing the brunt of Britain’s youth unemployment, according to research by the Northern TUC, with every local authority seeing figures increasing in the past 12 months.

Gateshead was worst hit with a 26 per cent increase, followed by Sunderland with 24 per cent and Newcastle with 16 per cent.

“The young people who engage with us overcome many barriers to be in a position where they are now ready to look for employment and education opportunities,” he said.

“Currently 72 per cent of the young people we engage with go on to find sustainable employment, education or training.”

For more information about Street League, email northeast@streetleague.co.uk or james.thompson@streetleague.co.uk.

Alternatively, visit www.streetleague.co.uk.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho