Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has been introduced to young people changing their lives for the better through anti-youth violence projects at Newcastle United Foundation’s new community facility.
Ahead of NUCASTLE’s official opening in March, Ms Rayner met teenagers and young adults supported by the YOLO project – an initiative delivered by the Foundation and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner’s Violence Reduction Unit, designed to educate, inspire and engage young people to curb youth offending and anti-social behaviour.
Angela Rayner said: “It is brilliant to see the work being done to support young people in the community.
“I know football is a force for good and it is great to see it in action. Bright young people just need a chance, and everyone involved should be so proud of the work they do to give them that chance.”
Ms Rayner heard how 218 young people have received at least 4,360 hours of direct mentorship and positive interventions since YOLO’s launch two years ago.
During the visit, the deputy Labour leader met with Newcastle United Foundation Trustee Shola Ameobi and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness, who also toured NUCASTLE’s immaculate 4G rooftop pitch, specialist STEM classroom, smart fitness studio, sports hall, and community meeting spaces.
Sarah Medcalf, Deputy Head of Newcastle United Foundation, said: “Welcoming Angela Rayner to NUCASTLE is a significant moment for our charity and we are incredibly proud to introduce her to the inspirational young people receiving support in our new centre.
“More than 100,000 visitors annually will enjoy innovative education, sports and recreation activities with us at NUCASTLE as our charity continues to grow with our community to provide new and meaningful opportunities for all.
“Ensuring everyone is inspired and supported to achieve their potential is at the heart of what we do, and from NUCASTLE we will continue to do this in a purpose-built facility for generations to come.”
She added: “It has been our pleasure to connect Angela with our brilliant young people and to share with her the amazing results of projects like YOLO where 87 per cent of participants report feeling more confident, able to set and achieve goals and have optimism for the future.”
Many of the eight to 18-year-olds involved in the charity’s anti-youth violence initiatives are introduced to YOLO through Premier League Kicks – free, weekly football for children and teenagers from Berwick to Gateshead that provides an informal way to engage youngsters with neighbourhood policing teams and Foundation staff.
Faiequl Alom is one young man who has transformed his life with Foundation support and shared his journey with Ms Rayner.
Anxious, unemployed, and struggling to leave his home during the pandemic, Faiequl stopped participating in football – the one thing he loved. Through diligent outreach work to rebuild Faiequl’s self-confidence, provide employment support and personal skill-building, he is fulfilling his dream of working as a football coach with Newcastle United Foundation.
Faiequl said: “Football has always been a big escape for me and as a kid, watching and playing football was all I did. I’ve always had the dream and the ambition to be a football coach, but I lost sight of this during the pandemic.
“Ever since I’ve been involved with the Foundation, I’ve really matured and grown in confidence and now I’m doing what I love – coaching football.
“I had no idea it would happen as quickly as it has, and I owe that to Newcastle United Foundation.”
After seeing the YOLO and Kicks programmes in action at NUCASTLE, Ms Rayner praised Faiequl and the entire Newcastle United Foundation team, honouring the charity’s commitment to the North East community through life-changing opportunities on their doorstep.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I grew up in the West End of Newcastle and we never had any facilities like this incredible new home for Newcastle United Foundation.
“A rooftop pitch overlooking St. James’ Park – it doesn’t get much more inspiring than that if you’ve grown up here. What a place to show Angela Rayner around on her visit to the city, and for her to see the YOLO project in action was brilliant to see.
“My Northumbria Violence Reduction Unit recognises the power of football. The Foundation has so many wonderful stories where they have taken kids off the streets and given them the chance to be part of something so positive. The more of this we do, the better.”
NUCASTLE, through significant support from partners including Football Foundation, North of Tyne Combined Authority, and Football Foundation, the centre will officially open its doors to the public in March 2022.
Based just five minutes’ walk from St. James’ Park, the facility houses unique spaces for residents of all ages to enjoy sports, leisure, wellbeing, and personal development activities alongside interactive learning for schoolchildren, teenagers and young adults through NU Futures.
Our team are here to help. Make a general enquiry about the Foundation or one of our programmes, share your feedback or make a complaint.