Enterprising football link-up gives youngsters new goals

Enterprising football link-up gives youngsters new goals

East Lancashire’s entrepreneurs of the future have been working to help their communities thanks to a ground-breaking scheme supported by a local football club.

Ninety eight students from Thomas Whitham Sixth Form, Burnley, Nelson and Colne College, Burnley College, Blackburn College and Clitheroe Royal Grammar School have spent three months volunteering to help make a difference.
And the projects culminated in an event in the James Hargreaves Suite at Burnley Football Club at which students gave presentations about their social enterprises and described what they had learned along the way.

The work was completed with the help of volunteer University students as part of the Voltage Project, funded by v, the national youth volunteering charity, and run by the Lancaster University Volunteering Unit (LUVU) in partnership with Burnley FC Community Sports Trust.

LUVU is delivering its Voltage community initiative across Lancashire in groundbreaking partnership with local football clubs Burnley and Morecambe, and the National Football Museum based at Preston North End’s Deepdale ground.

The project is not just about setting up a social enterprise business. Students have to brainstorm potential ideas, compose a business plan, “sell it” to a Dragon’s Den-style panel and promote the concept in the community.

LUVU Director Ben Matthews said: “The aim is to give school pupils a solid understanding of what social enterprise means: to bond the participants as a team and to get them to think creatively about what sort of business they might run.”

A new longer term Youth Leadership course has now been developed for young volunteers thinking of social enterprise as a career choice.

Ben said: “We’re extremely pleased that we have been able to work in partnership with football clubs that are close to their local communities. It is an approach that helps young people taking part really engage with the project.

“The link with Burnley Football Club will see 1,000 young people taking part in Voltage over the next three years.”

The East Lancashire students identified a need in their school or community and thought about how they could use their skills and passions to create a business that would meet the need and make a difference.

They visited Lancaster University to create a marketing campaign for their social enterprise, which they operated for four week.

The initiatives ranged from a culture event for primary school children and a smoothie making business to raise awareness of healthy eating.
And the Go Green team from Thomas Whitham Sixth Form won the Outstanding Enterprise award for, among other things, launching and promoting a recycling scheme.

Around £2,000 in profit from the schemes is being invested into the community through a variety of community and charity groups including Children in Need and the local Pendleside Hospice.
Voltage Coordinator Sidonie Richardson said: “It has been such a rewarding experience working with the students as they have all really engaged with the activities. I am so proud of the work that they have done and it’s great to know that some of the social enterprises and sustainable and will continue to operate in the future.”
Lancaster University’s Volunteering Unit has now revealed plans to double its student operation by 2012 – making it one of the largest in the country.

The organisation provides help and support for communities across the North West, harnessing the skills, expertise and energy of the University’s students in wide ranging projects.

The highly-acclaimed operation is managed by the Students’ Union in partnership with the University and aims to have 450 students engaged in its projects in 2008/2009. The Unit has also set an ambitious target of 800 student volunteers a year by 2012.

To further the Unit’s development, the team aim to expand their project delivery into new geographical areas of Lancashire, including Preston and the Ribble Valley.

It is planned that the Unit’s Voltage programme will build relationships even further into East Lancashire over the coming years.

In 2007/08 LUVU’s Voltage and School Partnership programmes benefitted more than 5,000 young people across Lancashire.

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