On Monday 17th July, a group of staff members and young people from the Positive Youth Foundation attended the West Midlands Police Sports Awards in Birmingham. The event was to highlight the power of sport within communities, and how sport can become a catalyst for social change.
The Positive Youth Foundation have used sports programmes as a vehicle to remove barriers for young people to get involved in various different sports. Sports also allows for opportunities to create positive opportunities, develop role models and embed a feeling of local pride and involvement in their local community.
We were nominated for two awards on the night; the ‘Power of Sport’ and the ‘Project of the Year’ awards.
The ‘Power of Sport’ award looks to celebrate an individual who has made significant improvements in their life and has had a positive impact on others around them due to their participation in sport. As part of our focus on inclusion, we delivered a Sports Leadership qualification to a group of newly arrived Syrian young people in order to enhance their confidence whilst also providing them with their first UK qualification.
During the course of the qualifications delivery, we saw an outstanding amount of leadership, but none more so than in one family. For this family, 15 year-old Batoul and her two brothers, Mustafa and Abdullah, taking part in sport has proven to be a signification catalyst for development.
All three have since volunteered with us at PYF, leading sports sessions at our half-term programmes and even becoming ambassadors for other newly arrived young people in Coventry.
For our ‘Project of the Year’ nomination, in which we came 2nd, we spoke about our free holiday programme, which engages over 300 young people in a variety of free activities; including sport, music and arts.
Using sport as a catalyst, we focussed on using sport to develop volunteering opportunities, such as in the case of Batoul to develop their sense of belonging in their new communities. Providing newly arrived young people with positive experiences in sports has allowed a further 100 young people to move from targeted provision into open-access sessions.
Our Chairman, Dean Kavanagh, said “Using positive activities to create social change is something which we at PYF specialise in. These awards are testament to the power of community programmes and the impact that they have on young people’s lives. We are very proud of the achievements of the young people on our programmes. They have shown determination and incredible resilience to get to where they are. We thank our supporters for enabling these opportunities”
Our employment support programme, Ambition Coventry, has helped one of our participants, LJ gain employment for the first time!
LJ first attended an interview with McDonalds after hearing John Kiely, local McDonald’s franchisee, speak during our open evening, hearing John speak passionately about what McDonalds can offer young people and his belief in the strength of young people. Both Clifford (a previous beneficiary of the PYF Ambition programme) and LJ attended an interview at this point but unfortunately, only Clifford was successful at this time.
This did not stop LJ, who had since moved into his own home and had started to live independently. LJ was determined to secure employment, working closely with Abu Miah on our Progress sessions and John Kiely, a PYF Champion! Over the course of several weeks, we worked with LJ to increase his awareness of interview skills, develop his CV and to develop his professional skillset.
Through our links with John, LJ was given another chance to impress, and this time, he did! LJ was helped by PYF to apply for the job online before being accepted for an interview at McDonalds in Coventry City Centre.
Abu Miah, youth coach at the Positive Youth Foundation, said “LJ is a keen photographer and worked alongside our marketing and communications officer to gain experience,”
“LJ has worked extremely hard in both the academic and non-academic sessions, trying his upmost best to learn and has become a role model for his peers. I was delighted to hear he gained employment, and I want to wish him all the best on his journey!”
Speaking about our links with John Kiely, Abu said “I’d like to thank John, he doesn’t give up on young people and always sees the good in them” and we couldn’t agree more.
LJ is a prime example of what working hard and accepting help can achieve. By working with us, LJ has overcome a series of barriers to employment, including confidence issues to gaining employment at McDonalds. It’s a fantastic journey for him, and we with LJ all the best in the future during his time at McDonalds.
Ambition Coventry is a youth employment initiative funded through the European Social Fund. It works with anyone aged between 16 and 19 who lives in Coventry and is not in any form of employment, education or training (NEET).
Batoul Erjf isn’t your typical fifteen-year-old. Batoul is resilient, confident and above all else, aspirational.
PYF first met Batoul and her family when they arrived in Coventry as refugees in April 2016.
The Erjf family experienced losing their home and large farming business due to bombings, along with the trauma of their father becoming disabled and being separated from each other, unexpectedly reuniting months later in Lebanon and seeking refuge in the UK.
Batoul and her brothers; Abdullah, Mustafa and Muahaned all began to attend our Involved Hub, a session designed for newly arrived young people to learn conversational English, develop confidence and start to integrate within their local communities. The Erjf family attended every single week and we soon saw a huge improvement in their English language abilities along with their confidence.
Batoul had been out of formal education from the age of eleven in Syria but when coming to the UK was placed straight in to year ten to complete her GCSE’s. For a lot of young people, the pressure of GCSE’s is overwhelming, however Batoul is taking it all in her stride, with aspirations of a future at Cambridge University to study medicine.
Seeing this passion for learning and development of confidence, PYF offered the Erjf’s an opportunity to increase their skill sets and achieve recognised qualifications. Batoul and her brothers have now completed their Level 1 Sports Leaders Award increasing skills around organisation, planning, communication and teamwork through the medium of sport.
Once completing this award, Batoul’s ambitions turned achieving the Level 3 Sports Leaders Award which is working at a level equivalent to A Level with the addition of 16 UCAS points toward her future University application and alongside thirty hours of volunteering.
“English is your key to a better life in the UK, don’t be shy or scared to practice, just keep practicing.”
Batoul’s high energy and bold approach to volunteering shows such commitment and maturity that staff at PYF are always pleased to have her on board with the team when delivering sessions. Batoul has become essential when working with other newly arrived young people, empowering them through discussing her own experiences and also not taking no for an answer! Batoul is authoritative when it comes to encouraging people to practice their English speaking, presenting at a City Council welcome event for families who had only been in the country for four weeks that “English is your key to a better life in the UK, don’t be shy or scared to practice, just keep practicing.”
Batoul and her family have become such a part of Positive Youth Foundation that they are engaged in programmes across the entire organisation. Batoul even completed her secondary school work experience with us, completing a whole week of tasks including supporting session delivery in other schools and our across our community programmes, with some office admin tasks thrown in!
We can’t put into words how proud we are of Batoul and her brothers. They have achieved so much more than formal qualifications, they have also gained valuable, transferrable life skills, all supported wholeheartedly by their very humble parents. We have had the pleasure to be welcomed into the family home for a home cooked breakfast, discussing all things related to their move into Coventry. The Erjf family exude warmth and are active members of Coventry’s vibrant, multi-cultural community.
We are looking forward to the future, watching Batoul and her family progress and achieve.
Next up, a residential trip to the Isle of Wight for four days of activities and volunteering across the island with thirty other young people from across Coventry. When talking of their hopes and fears of the trip, Batoul exclaimed confidently “I am fearless, I just want to make new friends and have fun!”
In recent years, the club have turned their focus towards developing their youth structure, aiming to get more young people into the sport. Through the clubs links with the Positive Youth Foundation, the organisations forged an exciting partnership to increase the amount of young people taking part in sports, both at St. Finbarrs and across the city.
Dean Kavanagh, Chairman of the Positive Youth Foundation said that the sponsorship represented an opportunity to embed the sport across Coventry.
“It’s fantastic to see Positive Youth Foundation collaborating closely with St Finbarrs, who play a key part in the development of Gaelic Football in Coventry and have been the heart and soul of the community for many decades,” said Dean.
Although Gaelic Football originated as a national Irish sport, it is wonderful to see how many young people from non-Irish backgrounds and cultures have taken to the game,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for our young people to continue developing their physical and social skills and keep active all year round. We our thoroughly looking forward to continuing this new partnership.”
Danny Coleman, Chairman of St. Finbarr’s, echoed the thoughts of Dean, noting that the partnership with the Positive Youth Foundation represents a chance to get more people involved in Gaelic Football.
“Our new relationship with the Positive Youth Foundation is exciting as we look to engage both families and young people to not only get involved in Gaelic Football but to also become part of the club and community as a whole,” he said.
There are several age groups for young people wanting to get involved in Gaelic Football, starting from under 8’s, which aims to introduce children as young as 6 to the game. Leagues and tournament settings are played every Saturday over the Summer months.
Our Ambition Coventry offer, designed to help young people in Coventry get into education or find employment has supported Kieran into an apprenticeship with DFS.
Kieran was referred to our programme by his mother after leaving college as he did not enjoy the course he was enrolled on. On first appearances, Kieran was somebody who wanted to succeed but had no idea as to where he could turn for help or guidance. With support from our staff, we found that Kieran held a keen interest in sports and practical activities. Supported by our staff member, Ashley McBride, Kieran developed his confidence and found an amazing opportunity to undertake a two-year apprenticeship with DFS, where he would be trained to become a Service Manager in Upholstery.
The first week of training for this apprenticeship was to be in Doncaster, where Kieran would have to stay for a week, which Kieran was hesitant about. However, Ashley managed to work with Kieran, selling the benefits of attending the training and the subsequent apprenticeship offer. Upon attending the training, Kieran was successful in completeing the course in addition to making a good impression of himself to DFS staff.
Since completing his training, we have kept in regular contact with Kieran, who is now completing his Duke of Edinburgh award through DFS and wants to volunteer with the Positive Youth Foundation as part of this.
The Ambition Coventry programme has worked to give Kieran a chance he would not otherwise have found. Working with the Positive Youth Foundation and the Ambition team, we have been able to turn around a young person who was short of confidence, motivation and a pathway into a professional who now wishes to support the organisation that supported him.
The Ambition Coventry programme works with anyone between the ages of 16 and 29 who lives in Coventry and is not in any form of employment, education or training. With 20 organisations across the city involved in the partnership, the program is in a unique position to offer a range of support to young people across Coventry.
Ambition Coventry, a programme to help young people in Coventry get into employment and education has helped a new arrival into the city find work – and he’s lovin’ it!
Clifford Nghneya arrived in the UK from Kenya in January to join his parents, who had been here for eight years, and, despite English not being his first language, he was determined to find employment.
He was put in touch with Positive Youth Foundation (PYF) and joined its Involved Programme which helps newly arrived young people settle into their surroundings and offers support with health and wellbeing, social integration and learning English.
Clifford was also enrolled on the Ambition Coventry employability programme, which draws together skills and expertise from 20 organisations. It’s led by Coventry City Council’s employment team and creates pathways for young people to achieve their goals.
Through PYF’s links with local McDonald’s franchisee John Kiely, Clifford was given the chance to attend a careers open evening with John’s restaurant group.
After hearing about the skills he could learn and develop with the company, he was helped by PYF to apply for a job online, develop his CV and was given training on interview techniques.
The 18-year-old was successful in his application and is now working in the McDonald’s restaurant in Cross Cheaping in Coventry city centre and taking on a variety of roles as well as improving his teamwork and communication skills.
“My parents moved to Coventry eight years ago and I stayed with my guardians back in Kenya so it has been great to join my family here,” said Clifford.
“When I first came here, I was a little scared to talk to anyone at first,” he said. “But, over time, I have gained confidence in communicating how I feel in front of any group.
“The people I work with have been very friendly, much more patient and helpful than I expected.
“I have also learnt about staying focussed and not giving up – it has been great for me.”
John said he believed the partnership with PYF would lead to more young people finding work at his restaurants.
He said: “After meeting the Positive Youth Foundation team, a group of young people came to our open evening and I was really enthused at their willingness to engage, learn and to ask questions.
“I was thrilled that Clifford wanted to pursue a career with us and I am sure he will be the first of many that we will either employ or help get ready to go into other employment.
“I am delighted to be able to work with, and support, PYF Ambition.”
Krishan Singh, of PYF, said the approach had helped Clifford to find work and settle in the city.
He said: “Clifford initially attended our Tuesday evening football sessions which sees a good mix of both newly arrived and local young people in attendance.
“He’s the perfect example of what hard work and commitment can achieve. By accepting help and support, he overcame a series of challenges to meet his goals and he should be commended for that – especially for overcoming one of the hardest challenges, a language barrier.
“What it also highlights is our connections with both the public and private sector and how we can tap into those for the good of individuals in the city who need this kind of support. We wish Clifford all the very best.”
Ambition Coventry is a youth employment initiative funded through the European Social Fund. It works with anyone aged between 16 and 19 who lives in Coventry and is not in any form of employment, education or training (NEET).
Every Monday a group of youngsters come to our dance session at Sidney Stringer school, many come for pure enjoyment, others come and use it as a form of exercise and way of keeping busy. However, one youngster by the name of Harvey Powell attends our session to improve his dancing skills, progress and move upwards along the career ladder.
Currently he is attending sessions alike to ours, but hopes in the near future to be able to help deliver similar sessions to the one he is currently attending and hopefully lead sessions just like his tutor somewhere down the line. ‘I want to be at a stage where I can lead and teach sessions like this myself’. When asked about our dance session he replied ‘I come to the session because the teachers are really good and helpful and they help me move forward with my dancing skills’.
Talking about the session, Harvey noted the variety of routines in the sessions, noting that ‘the dances are always different and very helpful, we have a set routine which we have to learn and then perform to each other’.
‘I come to the session because the teachers are really good and helpful and they help me move forward with my dancing skills’. – Harvey Powell
Harvey’s plans for the future are to go to college and study dance before doing a teaching degree and one day run dance sessions alike to those that he attends. He summarised the session as ‘a fun session where you get to meet new people as well as improve your social skills’ and if he had a choice of a specific routine he would like to do, he prefers the ‘sharp, dynamic routines’ in comparison to the hip hop, freestyle and street style routines.
If you are someone who is looking to get into dance, want to keep yourself busy on a Monday evening or even looking for a way to socialise and meet new people then the Positive Youth Foundation Dance Sessions are ideal for you every week from 5pm till 7pm.
Positive Youth Foundation took three youth teams on their first ever cricket tournament and for some it was their first ever competitive match, outside of their weekly session games. They were given the privilege of representing their city as an added bonus against city rivals Birmingham. The tournament was held at Joseph Chamberlain College, Birmingham and was divided into three tournaments based on ages, first one being primary school, second one being secondary school ages and the last one being sixth form students.
‘I can’t believe that he doesn’t play cricket regularly, he is so good’,
Aasim Aziz (Birmingham Chance to Shine Coach) asking about Muaaz Patel
We took two teams for the secondary school tournament and one for the primary. The primary tournament consisted of three teams including our very own, the format was every team played each other twice and then a final. Our youngsters won four out of four and the other two teams scrapped out for a place in the final by who had scored more runs in the tournament between them since they both only won one out of four. Going into the final we were firm favourites, even more so after we made 63, 30 more than the average score but unfortunately we lost in the last over. Likewise, with the secondary tournament we played a very strong Birmingham side in the final, requiring four runs to win and three to draw off the last delivery, we were only able to manage two runs. Losing by one.
However, the attitude, behaviour and passion on display from all Coventry teams was there for everyone to see, with most spectators including coaches from Birmingham being shocked that most of our players didn’t play cricket seriously nor did they see it as their first sport. Aasim Aziz (Birmingham Chance to Shine Coach) said ‘I can’t believe that he doesn’t play cricket regularly, he is so good’, when asked about Muaaz Patel (11) who later on in the week was awarded with a Positive Youth Foundation player of the tournament award for his outstanding contribution to the team as both a captain and participant as on more than one occasion he corrected and helped the umpires on field alter their decision even though it was at a disadvantage to his own team. This just one incident where the youngsters we took did us all proud. Ever since that tournament our numbers for our weekend cricket sessions that are completely free have increased steadily in the wake of their success and the potential for more silverware and the pride of representing your city in national and regional tournaments. The next tournament is in the April half term so if you’re willing to play in a fast, inclusive, tape ball cricket tournament and you’re between the ages of 8-18, then come on down to either our Saturday session at Sidney Stringer school from 1 till 2:30pm or alternatively the Sunday session at AT7 Centre also from 1 till 2:30pm
We’re happy to announce another new exciting post with our growing team. We’re looking for a Youth Engagement Officer (Sport and Physical Activity) to join our dedicated team of youth work staff, supporting a programme designed to engage young people who are referred to us for a range of support needs. The programme will be delivered throughout the day from 9am to 9pm, providing the r ight person with a fantastic opportunity to engage with a genuine youth development program.
For this post, we’re looking for people who can slot right into the team and hit the ground running. As such, we require people who are experience practitioners, with a proven track record of delivering sports programmes in the community. If you think this sounds like you and you’re up for a challenge, this is your moment. To download the job description for this role, please click the download button below.
For further information, please email us at email@example.com – an application pack will be emailed to you.
Deadlines for applications are 5pm on Friday 24th MarchDOWNLOAD
Our Friday evening basketball sessions are structured, inclusive and bring a sense of freedom to participants. These are just a few words Jamie Bunch from Coventry Solihull and Warwickshire Sport (CSW Sport) used to describe Positive Youth Foundation’s basketball session. CSW Sport is funded by Sport England and through its ‘Sportivate’ project, funds us to deliver sporting sessions, including our basketball session just to name one! Just last week, an examiner came to check the delivery of our session and gave us very positive feedback.
‘The Basketball session is a partnership approach between Positive Youth Foundation and Particip8. It is an informal recreational sports session, engaging young people of various faiths and from communities in and around CV1’.
This is just one sentence from Jamie’s review of our session in which he also lauded the balance and interaction our two coaches, Alex and Marian had. Furthermore, the ability for our sessions to keep youngsters away from trouble and crime is clearly evident even for someone attending our sessions for the first time like Jamie was. He continued to say ‘as a Friday tea time session it gives the young people a really good start to their weekend and a structured activity to attend. Thus most likely reducing ASB and giving positive activity’.
Following up on our positive report, we went to interview one of our basketball coaches, Marian Horvat, who lives in the local community and is fast progressing his journey at PYF. Beginning as a participant, he accepted an apprenticeship with PYF and is now a member of staff. We wanted to find out more about what happens behind the scenes at our Basketball session and to find out more about the man behind the (basket)ball!
Written by Usman Khan