London Irish Foundation partnership to help young people

Published: 01 October 2019

The London Irish Foundation is partnering with Slough Borough Council’s repairs, maintenance and investment service partner Osborne to help hard to reach young people in the borough.

The HITZ programme is part of the Premiership Rugby National programme. It works with young people who are aged between 16 and 24 and not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The programme helps participants to gain recognised qualifications while also offering work experience at partnering companies.

Osborne has partnered with the London Irish Foundation HITZ programme to offer traineeships and work experience to the young people on the course.

Michelle Davies, Account Director at Osborne, said: “This is such a great opportunity to get involved with a scheme which is making a real difference to young people’s lives who have not flourished in the traditional education system for a variety of reasons.

“We can provide the practical element to their core learning skills. Our range of work experience throughout Osborne, from business management and customer service based at our Langley offices, to trade skills like plumbing and electricians who will go out on the road with our operatives means there is a great choice of roles.

“These young people are being given a chance to change their lives for whatever reason has led them to being helped by the London Irish Foundation HITZ programme.

“We are more than willing and delighted to get involved in this programme which effects real change for the good with young people.”

The HITZ programme has recently moved from Reading to Slough and lessons are now based just off Slough’s High Street in the Regal Court business centre.

It is the first year the London Irish Foundation team will be working in Slough and they have joined forces with local schools, Thames Valley Police and the council’s youth team to divert young people into the programme which is funded by Premiership Rugby and the London Irish Foundation.

Ainsley Campbell, London Irish HITZ Officer, said: “In the first three years we have had almost 80 young people on our books, with an 82 per cent completion rate.”

He added: “We have had a high level of repeat offenders on the programme who have changed their lives. One young man came to the programme without many opportunities, he has progressed through the programme subsequently working with students in local schools on matters such as knife crime, as well as youngsters requiring assistance with special educational needs and learning difficulties.

“We are delighted he is now part of the Foundation team as an apprentice.

“We had another young man come to us with ADHD and he could not look anyone in the face or speak in front of people. He recently stood up on stage and spoke in front of 3,000 people at a rugby charity event whilst collecting a parliamentary award.”

The HITZ programme can be flexible as the course is tailored to the individual. The initiative has people participating in study programmes, BTEC sports qualifications, and learning trades via our traineeship programme with Osborne. In addition, the attendees are helped to develop life and interview skills as well as improving their confidence, self-esteem and employability.

Nathan Richardson, the council’s team leader for NEET reduction, said: “This is a great opportunity for the young people of Slough, where they will be able to get both academic and vocational qualifications as well as hands on work experience.

“We are happy to have aided this partnership and very much look forward to working together to achieve fantastic outcomes for the young people of Slough.”

Cllr Mohammed Nazir, cabinet member for housing and community safety, said: “This is a great programme which Osborne is partnering with.

“We hope that the offer of work experience will give these young people an insight into a working life and the confidence and skills needed to gain employment.”