Actively looking for work

6 March 2019 | Midlands

Nafisha Mahmood and Jade Saunders, Sport 4 Life

Charity uses sport to get young people up the career ladder.

Young people trying to find employment are being helped by a unique charity that uses sport to skill them up for the workplace.

Sport 4 Life UK supports 16-29 year olds not in education, employment, or training, also known as NEETs. Founded in 2006 as a small community project in Ladywood, the charity has developed into the leading sport for employment charity across the city.

Using sport as a vehicle to learn new skills, they take on students for an intensive five-week employability and personal development programme. The intention is to get all these youngsters to make a valuable contribution to their communities.

Jade Saunders, 26, an employment and training coordinator, says the charity gives helps give those a chance who might otherwise miss out.

“There should be a level playing field so every young person has the opportunity to create a better future for themselves,” says Jade.

At the same time the charity offer one-to-one mentoring and guidance to those who need support with CV writing, job interviewing and gaining accredited qualifications.

Jade explained: “Even if they don’t intend going into a career to do with sport, the point is that we help young people gain employability skills. They are transferable skills.

“There are lots of opportunities on offer through the programme to help get our people back into work. One initiative we have is called ‘Suited for Success’ where a number of corporate partners donate smart clothes and suits. We take a group of young people and talk to them about body language, dressing for success and just generally building confidence. At the end of the session they can take an outfit home.”

Jade also meets various NEETs on a one-to-one basis in her effort to find them permanent work placements. And when there is a job opportunity or interview she will even arrange transport. Her current crop includes Nafisha Mahmood, 23, who has an NVQ in business and administration but who is struggling to find something permanent. She would love an admin job or work on a reception desk. Jade is doing her best to help and has already put several opportunities her way. She helped Nafisha, who lives with her parents, find a seasonal job over Christmas. Now they are on the hunt for something more long-term.

Said Nafisha: “Jade always lets me know if there are job opportunities. If she see something she thinks is a good fit she will text or email me. She is professional but I do really feel she gets me, and makes a special effort to help.

“Where I live, it is very hard to find a job and it can make you feel down. I think it is my bad luck. But Jade keeps my confidence up. If it wasn’t for her I would probably have given up already. She is always so supportive. Some days, you stay in bed and feel hopeless but then Jade calls, and I feel more positive again. I am not the only one, I have got lots of friends in the same position.” She added: “I do feel very lucky that this opportunity exists for young people in Birmingham and that people like Jade help people like me.”

And Jade added: “For me, being able to help realise their potential - that is what it is all about. I can’t tell you how much it makes my day when I get a phone call from one of mine, someone I have worked with, saying, ‘I have a job!’. That is just the best feeling.”

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