The Motherwell right-back attended one of Street League’s ‘Transforming Lives’ sessions – funded by the ScottishPower Foundation – to see first-hand the work the charity does to support young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain access to education and employment.
Street League is a charity devoted to changing the lives of disadvantaged young people through the power of football. The ‘Transforming Lives’ project works with up to 500 S4 and S5 school pupils from parts of Scotland most at risk of future unemployment and has bases in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Dundee.
Training provided by the project supports employability and interview skills and learning for accredited qualifications through a mix of classroom and sport-based sessions. Each young person has a programme tailored to their individual needs.
The programme runs for 10 weeks, Monday to Thursday, for a group of 16 young people. Sessions include employability work such as mock interviews, employer expectation preparation and customer service scenario training. Each day is finished off with a sports or fitness session.
Stephen O’Donnell said: “It was amazing to meet the young people who are going through the programme and hear their personal stories about the difference it has made for them. And it was really humbling to see how the power of sport can help improve people’s lives and open doors they might otherwise not have had access to. It makes me appreciate the opportunities I’ve had even more and I’m really thankful to Street League and the ScottishPower Foundation for inviting me along to find out about the great work going on. I was truly blown away. This is a brilliant group of young people – they’ve got bright futures ahead of them."
The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 to support charitable causes such as Street League’s ‘Transforming Lives’ project. Street League was one of 16 charities across the UK to benefit from almost £1.2 million funding distributed by the ScottishPower Foundation last year.
Melanie Hill, Executive Officer and Trustee at the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “The work of the Street League team is incredible and shows how sport can be used as the foundation for supporting young people to learn new skills, adopt a new mindset and reach their full potential. By using sport as the basis to teach about life skills, resilience and employability as well as support education and learning, the charity is engaging and inspiring young people – and giving them a real boost as they consider their next steps in life. Transforming Lives is a great example of what the ScottishPower Foundation is all about – supporting causes that create a deep and lasting impact in communities and make a real difference to people’s lives. I’m so proud the ScottishPower Foundation funding has made the project possible and will create a meaningful and lasting legacy for everyone who takes part."
Street League works on the understanding that not all young people have a positive relationship with the typical classroom environment. It works to try and create fun and engaging sessions to help the young people it supports develop skills away from the classroom.
Dougie Stevenson, CEO of Street League, said: “It’s fantastic that Stephen took the time to visit Street League to learn more about the young people we help. He’s a real role model and an example to the young people on the programme of how hard work and commitment can help you progress towards your goals. Our academies offer a group environment where young people improve their wellbeing, make connections and get fit. By providing learning opportunities, we also help them make choices about their future and support them with progression into work so that they may reach their true potential. The ‘Transforming Lives’ project is helping Street League to support so many more young people across the country, I can’t thank the ScottishPower Foundation enough for its support.”
Reece Connell, 18, from Blackhall, Renfrewshire, who is part of the Transforming Lives project, said: “My career advisor at school put me in touch with Street League and I thought why not as it gives me something to focus on and I do really enjoy learning with the sport. It’s made a huge difference as it gets me up and about and gives me a purpose and I’ve learnt lots on the employability course. It’s taught me social skills and a lot of things I can use in the workplace when I’m older. When I reach the end of the project, I want to get an apprenticeship and get into a trade. The Street League team is helping me find courses. The funding from the ScottishPower Foundation is so important as it gives young people a lot of opportunities.”
Further information on the way the ScottishPower Foundation supports charitable projects can be found at scottishpowerfoundation.com
To find out more about Street League, please visit: streetleague.co.uk