Employees from Northampton Saints Foundation and their families came together to complete the TCS Virtual London Marathon to raise funds that will help give more opportunities to young people.
The event, which took place on Sunday April 23 saw a team of ten walk 26.2 miles from Glebe Farm School in Milton Keynes and finish at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens in Northampton. Both places are locations for the Foundation’s Engage and HITZ programme, which support young people to create positive futures.
The team raised £3,174 as a result of taking on the daunting task, with the young people they support providing the biggest motivation on the day.
Inspired by the history of Northampton Saints, the Foundation uses the power of sport and the values of rugby to inspire, support and educate thousands of people every year. Its education and social inclusion programmes inspire the current generation to learn, develop new skills, increase confidence and, where appropriate, return to education, training or employment.
Leo, a young person at Northampton Saints Foundation, is just one inspirational person who will benefit from the fundraising event. Aged 17, Leo had a tough time as he started secondary school, losing both his dad and nan at just 14 years old, which understandably had a huge impact, affecting his engagement with mainstream education his behaviour, attendance and attainment. Those around him recognised Leo needed something different, and introduced Leo to the Foundation’s HITZ programme, helping him turn a corner to a whole new path in life.
Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby’s shareholder clubs, the HITZ programme develops the personal, life and employability skills of young people providing them with qualifications, work experience and enrichment opportunities.
This new setting, unlike mainstream school, was suggested after Leo’s behaviour became erratic, and teachers found the unpredictability increasingly unmanageable. Due to his challenging behaviour, Leo moved through different routes including with a social worker, the CIRV (Community Initiative to Reduce Violence) and a spell at behavioural school, but it was trying out HITZ that eventually helped give him the fresh start he needed.
Leo immediately took to the HITZ family environment where a tailored approach to his learning and a clear desire to understand him on a personal level helped him to settle. Such was the change, he increased his attendance to ` full timetable, even often turning up even if he was not due to attend.
Describing how far he’s come Leo said:
“HITZ is my safe place and somewhere I feel good about myself. I want to do whatever I can to find ways to get a job and the staff here all help me with that.’’
The initial purpose of getting Leo involved in HITZ was to keep him off the streets and remain safe but now it has grown to be much more. Leo is now studying Level 1 Employability and Functional Skills and working to progress to Level 2, alongside being proactive in finding employment. Leo offers his time during the summer to help with recruitment at open days, continuously looking to improve his CV and seek opportunities to attend interviews to gain confidence in speaking with professionals in industry.